When Fausto Puglisi was just 18 years old he moved from his hometown of Messina in Sicily to New York, where he started to make tsunami-like waves within fashion circles in just a few months. Today you’ll find his eponymous line – which shows this Sunday during Milan Fashion Week - on the well-honed bodies of Beyonce, Madonna, Anna Dello Russo, Nicky Minaj and Miley Cyrus…. His handwriting isn’t shy of Sicilian sexual prowess and stage presence is key. Excess detailing and sensual cuts make these ladies the ultimate Puglisi mannequin line-up. With a relatively new position as Emanuel Ungaro’s Creative Director, Fausto is busier and more in demand than ever. We stole a few minutes in between fittings to catch up with the boy on an upward trajectory…
Fausto with Coco Rocha in Ungaro at the Met Gala 2013 in New York [Rex]
GraziaDaily: You moved to New York at such a young age, how did you start getting into fashion in New York?
Fausto Puglisi: I tried Milan first but I didn’t like it at the time. I always knew I wanted to be in New York, L.A. or London. Even when I was 13 I wanted to get into fashion as soon as possible and I was so curious about showbiz and mega-stardom – my heroes were Madonna, Micahel Jackson, Liz Taylor and Marlon Brandow. So when I finished school I thought ok, I go to NYC, with no money at all. Since I was six year olds I wanted to have my own brand, my own line, my own maison. I wanted to be international; although I am so proud to be Sicilian, at the time if you wanted to grow up you had to get out to London, Paris or New York.
GraziaDaily: So how did your first break arrive?
Fausto Puglisi: Before I went to New York, I met an incredible tailor in Italy and I did a capsule collection. I took the pieces with me and found a job as a waiter in a restaurant in Tribeca, the restaurant to go to, and my friend knew Patti Wilson – the stylist of David LaChapelle and Steven Klein and who was styling Britney Spears and Whitney Houston. She came to the restaurant and I told her I wanted to show her my pieces and she was so cool about it. She came the next day to my home and fell in love with them. That was the first key to the success, after that, Arianne Phillips, Madonna’s stylist helped me.
MIA and Nicky Minaj in Fausto Puglisi at 2012's Superbowl [Getty]
GraziaDaily: Wow. So you managed to get one of your heroes to wear your clothes?
Fausto Puglisi: I had the most incredible shock when I bought Elle magazine and Madonna was there wearing my blouse! I was so young. I don’t want to push celebrities as much now. It’s not the ‘80s or ‘90s [where high profile clients tended to loyally be dressed in just one or two labels] today you are in Gucci, tomorrow you are in Versace then Christopher Kane. What I want to do now is work directly with celebrities to work on a story to work starting with my personal point of view. There must be a story, a really cool one. I am obsessed with the idea of Queen Elizabeth and I think about her personal tailors in the past. In fact, I’m so obsessed with England; my first fabric maker is in England! He is amazing.
GraziaDaily: Who do you look up to in the fashion world?
Fausto Puglisi: Dolce and Gabbana [The duo awarded Fausto with their Young Designers project with a space in their Milan store] and Gianni Versace. Although yesterday I was with Donatella [Versace] at the Conde Nast dinner and I love her, I adore her, she’s amazing and a sweetheart but of course in the ‘90s Gianni was my icon.
Fausto's eponymous collection for autumn/winter 2013 [FaustoPuglisi.com]
GraziaDaily: There’s been a lot of talk recently about the Milanese fashion industry not supporting young designers, what do you think?
Fausto Puglisi: In the last two years is this obsession for new names has become weird. It’s good but not at the same time. I want to have the attention because I’m new, but it’s like politics. I like young people in politics but sometimes there are established people you can learn from. Miuccia Prada is incredible, Dolce and Gabbana are very very good, so is Donatella. In London the young generation are very well supported but in Milan is a mess; there’s confusion, and no support. All of my support has really come from the US, from France and England. I respect so much US Vogue, Suzy Menkes, Emmanuelle Alt from Paris Vogue. In Italy it’s like they are afraid of something new and they are slow to pick up on it.
GraziaDaily: But of course, Anna Dello Russo has been a big fan, hasn’t she?
Fausto Puglisi: Anna launched my style worldwide. We met and she said ‘Oh my god, I know what to do! I’ll wear it to the Christian Dior party in Paris and in New York Fashion Week.’ I still have with her a great relationship - she is my friend now. But again, Anna is more Hong Kong and L.A.
Anna Dello Russo in Fausto Puglisi [Rex]
GraziaDaily: Who your ultimate style icon?
Fausto Puglisi: Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette. And Queen Elizabeth, I’m obsessed with her colourings.
GraziaDaily: How are you finding the workload between Ungaro and Fausto?
Fausto Puglisi: Well it’s about fun. You can get stressed and say I don’t have time, but I actually want more embroidery, more models, more shows, more makeup, more hair… This is my life and I’m so happy. I have no time to go the theatre for example, but even though this is a serious job, we are lucky to do it.
Fausto's Ungaro collection for autumn/winter 2013 [Catwalking.com]
GraziaDaily: How do you separate the brands’ styles?
Fausto Puglisi: Ungaro is about tradition; a French maison which has an amazing history. It was about colour and print and the British and Americans from Park Avenue to Palm Springs loved it. It was iconic in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I have a lot of respect for what Emanuel did, and when I speak to him about ladies like Catherine Deneuve, it’s true that there are no more women like that, but there are women who want to be fast and furious. So I want to put all my energy into Ungaro to rebuild the brand’s image and the commercial side. With Ungaro it’s like going into a church, a place of worship and you think twice about what you create. With my own line I don’t think twice. For Fausto it’s wild. Ungaro is an erotic movie in the 1970s and Fausto is a hardcore porno where you have the wham, bam!
GraziaDaily: Ooh, you are making us blush! What’s sexy now do you think?
Fausto Puglisi: Sexy doesn’t mean boobs and ass. Sexy is an attitude, sexy is freedom, that doesn’t mean to show off or to be covered. You can be covered up or you can be completely naked, like a Helmut Newton picture and still be sophisticated. He is my icon. Really, it’s about freedom.