Since its merger with Net-a-Porter around two years ago, online retailer Yoox – which started out selling in-season lines and the previous season’s designer collections – has adopted exclusive collaborations in order to create its own design projects. Tie-ups with Italy’s Margherita Missoni and Marni made sense for Milan-based Yoox, and while the website’s latest partnership follows the same domestic route, that is the only predictable thing about it.
Fausto Puglisi is a Sicilian designer whose baroque-meets-biker take on fashion reflects both his homeland and years working in Los Angeles. Flamboyant prints, lashings of gilt accessories and studded leather are his stock-in-trade, high-octane glamour his style – he was formerly at Ungaro and many see a wistfulness for 1980s Versace in his work. Yoox’s decision to ask Puglisi to design kimonos that would appeal to both Japanese and international customers might therefore seem like something of a gamble. That the collection works brilliantly is down to Puglisi’s bold signature prints, superimposed on an entirely traditional garment.
Celebrating the Japanese firework festival of Hanabi in July (when, in a revived tradition, many people wear the informal summer cotton kimono known as a yukata), Puglisi’s kimonos (£305, available from Thursday June 29) take the rectangular panels that make up a yukata, print them onto a roll of fine-cotton gauze and then cut them out and assemble them. Using two of his signature symbols – the flaming sun and the palm tree – he has composed two designs, one with both motifs in geometric “frames” on ivory, the other with suns and cherry blossom on pink, while his graphic obis (sashes) feature the sun’s flames.
“I’ve always loved Japanese culture, and when Yoox asked me to develop a project on the traditional summer kimono I accepted without hesitation,” says Puglisi. “The perfect geometric shape of the yukata and its adaptability to the female body makes it an impressive canvas.” The kimonos are handmade in Japan and traditionally packaged, and only 50 of each design have been produced. Wear with anything from jeans to an evening dress, but there is one rule – fold the left side over the right. The reverse is regarded in Japan as extremely rude.