By the late 1950s, the Italian take on modernity was being exported worldwide. This took the form of cappuccino bars, Vespas, cinema of Fellina, and not to mention voluptuous actresses. Italian fashion was also taking the world by storm, with its global cutting edge, uniting slick, urbane styling, beautiful materials and unparalleled craftsmanship. The clothes and accessories were crisp and attention-grabbing.

Emilio Pucci (1914-1992), an aristocratic Florentine designer, had perhaps caught the Italianite zeitgeist of the 1960s. His instantly recognizable clothes and handbags had combined sharp silhouettes in brilliant psychedelic patterning. It exquisitely echoed the Pop Art and Op art movements of that decade.

An Emilio Pucci bag with gold chain handle from 1966

It was only fitting that Pucci added this vivid note to some of the iconic moments of the time. In her burial in 1962, Marilyn Monroe wore a chartreuse Pucci dress. The Apollo 15 moon mission also was inspired by Pucci’s three-bird motif.

1960s Emilio Pucci Velveteen Box Handbag

Pucci handbag with waterfall front and gilt metal chain handle

The cocktail bag from the 1960s is a perfect embodiment of Pucci. The bold colors, ostentatious gold fittings, and slick form may take the design to the edge of kitsch. But with a hint of the Mediterranean sun and Sophia Loren’s bronzed arm, it could not have been more picturesque and stylish than that.