Roberto Capucci was born in Rome, Italy, on 2nd December 1930. He studied at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Rome. His first job was working for designer Emilio Schuberth. When he was 20, a Florentine businessman put on a fashion show, where it was his intention to show five of Capucci's creations. However, the other couturiers felt up-staged by his gowns and refused to allow it. The press however insisted the next day, to see the gowns, which sold immediately. He was so talented that since then he has been included in the shows representing Italy's finest designers.
Capucci was considered a "boy wonder" right from his debut because his gowns were regarded as fabric sculptures, with forms and colours that sometimes followed the body and sometimes exaggerated it. They gave a magical aura to the women who wore them.
In 1950 he opened his own house, and for ten years he was acclaimed in Italy.
In 1956 he was awarded the Medal of Gold of Venice and in the same year, he received a message of admiration from French designer Christian Dior.
In 1957, the fashion writer Alison Adburgham called him the "Givenchy of Rome" and said that he designed for an abstract woman, the woman you can never meet. His extravagance meant that the wearer becomes secondary to the gown.
In 1962, he opened his couture salon in Paris in the rue Cambon. In 1968, he returned to Rome, where he re-established himself in the via Gregoriana.
Capucci has called his work a "study in form". In his approach to the female figure, he refuses to limit himself to a curved cylinder. One of his most important collections was based on the box shape: each tunic or dress had two seams stiffened and squared away from the body.
His dresses may fly out like weightless balloons after the belt is removed, or conform to the torso only to take off below the hip or at the shoulder as a butterfly wing, a fan, the petals of a flower, the fins of a fish. His most famous dress, immortalized in Cadillac ads of the 50's, featured a skirt of nine layers, each more cutaway than the one underneath, each one more curved away from the body.
Although perfectly adept at producing an elaborately beaded, sensational and traditional ball gown, Capucci is known for his choice of unusual mediums. For one collection, he gathered garden pebbles and applied them to stone-coloured dresses: for another he used clear plastic "quilted" with pockets of coloured liquids, complete with liquid-centred buttons.
He makes clothes his own way, weaving together hand-span-wide bands to achieve miraculous harlequin dresses. Intrigued by phosphorescence, he sought to reproduce its effect with beaded embroideries. Capucci cut and draped fabric into daring clothes that give the impression of being created for a woman whose own presence is rarely felt; she is there only to display Capucci's mastery of line and cut. The purity of Capucci's work extended to his selling technique. His fashion shows were conducted in silence, he refused to ever duplicate a gown, and a client wishing to own a Capucci would have to buy it from the collection show, if she could fit into it. He hated publicity, or even recognition.
Around 1980 Roberto retired from the day-to-day running of his house, although he did design many dresses in the 1980's.
Since 1982 he has arranged for collections of his clothes to be shown in exhibitions all over the world. On the 50th Anniversary of his first success, an exhibition was held in Florence in February 2001. A book was published on that occasion called "Roberto Capucci - Timeless Creativity." In 2002, from February to May, an exhibition has been held in Tokyo, Japan, showing the most breathtaking of his dresses.
In 1995, at the age of 65, Roberto Capucci accepted teaching posts in China, at the Universities of Beigin, Xi'an and Shanghai, of the invitation of the Chinese Minister of Foreign Trade. Gianbattista Valli was a designer at the house of Capucci from 1988 to 1990, when he joined Fendi.
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