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What do The Shining, Emilio Pucci and the Olympics have in common?

Posted on 11 February 2014

Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood Oregon in the 1930s.
Timberline Lodge, Mt. Hood Oregon in the 1930s.

 

If you are ever in Oregon, one of the sites on the must see list has to be Timberline Lodge. It was built as a WPA project between 1936 and 1938, during the great depression.  The incredible murals, paintings, and carvings depicting Native Americans, pioneers and wildlife, were commissioned from some of Oregon's most accomplished artists. (Even the beds you still sleep in there were hand made by wrought iron artisans). But perhaps its most infamous claim to fame is that its exterior was used as the outside of the lodge in the original film The Shining.

 

Emilio Pucci on the slopes of Mt. Hood Oregon in 1937 - Reed College archives..
Emilio Pucci on the slopes of Mt. Hood Oregon in 1937 - Reed College archives.

But one of the reason fashion lovers might be interested in Timberline is because of one of Italy's most famous 1960s fashion designers, Emilio Pucci. 

 

Emilio Pucci with ski team at Reed College.
Emilio Pucci with ski team at Reed College.

 

Pucci attended graduate school in Portland, Oregon at Reed College.  While there, Emilio was the captain of  the College Ski Team and coached them at Mt. Hood.  The hill where he took his team has a lift that bears his name - Pucci - that skiers can still take today!

 

Emilio Paolo Pucci dei Marchesi di Barsento - commencement program from Reed College
Emilio Paolo Pucci dei Marchesi di Barsento - commencement program from Reed College

 

Carleton Whitehead, class of 1941, administrator 1952-83: shares her memories of him;

"Emilio Pucci ..was quite a social animal. He got a master’s of liberal studies from Reed. The master’s program felt more ad hoc then. If a person had a particular pursuit and they got together with faculty and constructed a program, they could get their masters. Emilio coached the Reed ski team, which did very well. I think it won an Oregon state school championship that year. And he designed a t-shirt for Reed, the one with the big griffin on it.  Later, in 1958 we brought him back to Reed for a visit. He put on a fashion show at the art museum downtown. Then he took a sentimental journey to his old room at Winch. Later, we had a dinner for him. I gather he cut quite a swath on campus. You could tell because some women were just delighted to see him again and others wouldn't come within 10 feet of him. We asked some of the students if they would like to have Emilio put on a fashion show at the campus, and we got a number who said they would. We had a fair number who were going to come but never did. I asked what was the problem, and they said, “Well, we just felt we’d be too conspicuous, walking from the dormitories to the fashion show.”

Emilio took it in good style. 

 

Reed College T-shirt designed by Emilio Pucci
Reed College T-shirt designed by Emilio Pucci

 

Designing ski wear was a perfect fit for Pucci.  He was an avid sportsman who loved swimming, skiing, fencing, tennis, and even car racing! At the age of 17 he travelled to Lake Placid as part of the Italian team at the 1932 Winter Olympics but did not compete.

These images from the 1950s and 1960s make me wish that Pucci could still be here to design the Team USA Olympic uniforms - especially this year!

Imaging the possibilities!  The Olympic sweater fiasco could have been replaced with bright Pucci colors and his mod signature prints.

I'm proud that Emilio Pucci spent part of his life in my home state of Oregon.  He came back to visit quite often and had a soft spot in his heart for the area.  Whenever I ride on the Pucci lift, I imagine him there in the 1930s, during the construction of Timberline lodge, coaching college students on Mt. Hood.  Was he designing ski fashions in his head as he watched them maneuver down the mountain?  Did he envision replacing the drab colors, most likely worn by everyone on the team, with bold aquas, hot pinks, and lime greens? Was Oregon a tiny bit instrumental in his decision to become a fashion designer?  I would really like to think so! Your are missed Mr. Pucci.

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