Conserving a Pucci classic

This bikini with a classic Pucci pattern required an interventive treatment and mounting process before it could be displayed in the upcoming exhibition.

The polyurethane foam padding in the bust had severely degraded and had become brittle and powdery. This had caused the bust to become stiff and deformed and the foam had begun to stain the fabric, causing yellowing in the pattern. This is a typical degradation pattern seen in polyurethane foams.

Pucci bikini. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The best course of treatment was to remove the foam from the bust in order to preserve the outer fabric. The inner bust lining stitching was undone and the foam layer revealed that the foam had lost all of its structure and powdered very easily.

The foam had lost all of its structure and powdered very easily. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

It was carefully removed using mechanical and solvent cleaning and a low suction vacuum ensured the last of the powder was removed.

A low suction vacuum ensured the last of the powder was removed. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The lining stitching was then stitched back using the original stitch holes

The lining stitching was stitched back using the original stitch holes. © Victoria and Albery Museum, London.

Fitting the bikini on the mannequin. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The bikini was made for a bust measuring larger than the mannequin, so bespoke alterations had to be made. To minimise handling and to help the mannequin makers, Proportion London, a toile was made of the bikini.

A pattern is taken from the bikini. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The toile made from similar cotton. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

A temporary form was then made to fit under the bikini to help to visualise the finished shape of the bust.

A temporary form was then made to fit under the bikini to help to visualise the finished shape of the bust.

You can see the finished bikini and other beautiful examples of Italian design from 5 April to 27 July in The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 – 2014. We’ll be revealing more behind-the-scenes insights on this blog over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

The finished bikini on the mannequin. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

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