By Stuart Mesires
1969 advertisement for Pucci for Formfit Rogers.
Being a huge fan and collector of vintage Emilio Pucci, I was surprised to find that the beloved Pucci lingerie pieces I collect were actually produced by a company formerly headquartered in Chicago called Formfit Rogers.
1960s Formfit Rogers by Emilio Pucci hang tag.
Formfit Rogers produced intimate garments and gowns. Established 1917 in Chicago, it was one of the largest—if not the largest—manufacturer of intimates in the world. Formfit Rogers’ Chicago branch was located at 5150 W. Roosevelt Road and housed manufacturing, shipping and sales. It stood a block long and eight stories high.
In 1957 Emilio Pucci decided that he wanted to develop a lingerie line. He was advised to work with an established lingerie company that could handle production, so Pucci signed a contract with Formfit Rogers. His first order of business was to develop a lightweight girdle. Pucci preferred designs without girdles, but realized that American women were not going to stop wearing them. He did not like the way traditional heavy girdles looked under garments and decreed that “women must move with elegance and freedom that entails a streamlined quality, which is part of contemporary living.” With the help of Formfit Rogers, Pucci developed a revolutionary panty-girdle called “Viva” that was lightweight while still showing the natural curve of a woman’s derriere—something that had not been done before.
1950s advertisement for the Viva girdle.
February 15, 1958 advertisement for the Viva girdle.
Pucci’s Viva girdle set the stage for lighter-weight undergarments throughout America. Pucci’s promotion to Vice President of Formfit Rogers’ design and merchandising was also due to its success.
Pucci supervised every part of creation— he draped fabric, worked with the designers, approved samples and created prints specifically for the intimate apparel line, never reusing ready-to-wear designs.
Prints created by Pucci for his Formfit Rogers intimate apparel line.
The first print that Pucci created for Formfit Rogers was designed in 1966. It was a linear pattern, but he went on to design floral, geometric, ribbon and diamond patterns. Each print was signed with “EPFR” which stood for “Emilio Pucci for Formfit Rogers.”
Prints were signed, “EPFR” which stood for “Emilio Pucci for Formfit Rogers.”
Pucci used luxurious nylon tricot fabric for his lingerie. It was shipped from the United States to Como, Italy for printing and then shipped back to the United States in Nashville, Tennessee, where it was cut and sewn into garments.
1960s photo of lingerie designed by Pucci for Formfit Rogers.
The 1960s saw lingerie moving away from structured girdles and garter-belts to something much more fun—matching sets of bras and panties in playful patterns and colors, shorter lengths, baby-doll looks and soft bras.
1960s Pucci for Formfit Rogers night gown and matching robe. Collection of Stuart Mesires.
1960s Pucci for Formfit Rogers baby-doll gown. Collection of Stuart Mesires.
1960s Pucci for Formfit Rogers slip. Collection of Stuart Mesires.
1968 advertisement for Formfit Rogers by Pucci lingerie at Bonwit Teller.
Pucci also developed a soft bra for Formfit Rogers in this period. It had no padding or underwires and celebrated a woman’s natural shape. Pucci said that the bra provided the best look for the bosoms of women who wore his dresses and tops.
Pucci’s 1960s soft bra and matching slip for Formfit Rogers. Collection of Stuart Mesires.
1960s advertisement for the soft bra that Emilio Pucci designed for Formfit Rogers.
The partnership between Pucci and Formfit Rogers was a very successful one. It ended, however, in 1979 when Formfit Rogers was sold by its parent company to a European conglomerate. Production was moved to Mexico, the company was not managed well, and soon Formfit Rogers went out of business.
Vintage Emilio Pucci for Formfit Rogers pieces can still be found today on the vintage market and are as vibrant in color as when they were first made. They are some of my favorite pieces to collect and even more so now that I know they were produced in Sweet Home Chicago!