IN PICTURES: the hottest hot pants in history

Italian fashion designer Mariuccia Mandelli, who is credited with inventing hot pants, died on Monday aged 90. The Local takes a look at the legacy of her creation.

IN PICTURES: the hottest hot pants in history
Photo: Christophe Simon/AFP

Mandelli was a risk-taker, having left a secure teaching job to fulfill her dream of working as a fashion designer and beginning her business from a two-room flat in Milan.

Her daring nature showed in her designs, which ignored contemporary trends and embraced pleats, animal motifs and – of course – hot pants. Mandelli was one of the pioneers of the iconic shorts, along with designers including British Mary Quant, and won the Tiberio d'oro award when she debuted the look at Capri.

Mandelli at her label, Krizia's fashion show. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

The trend soon spread around the globe, with hot pants infiltrating all areas of culture from haute couture to the high street. 


Hot pants quickly became hot property on the catwalk and were featured heavily in fashion bible Vogue, before finding their way onto the high street. Even knitted versions proved popular.

The trend spread to the UK, where one town held a Miss Hot Pants competition (and a male equivalent), as documented by this newspaper clipping.

But was there really a need for inflatable Wonder Sauna Hot Pants?


Nadia Cassini, an actress famous for roles in films in the 'commedia sexy' genre, including  L'infermiera nella corsia dei militari (The nurse in the military madhouse).

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Screenshot/Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.


Brands realized the potential of the shorts and used them to advertise products from jeans to motorbikes and even air travel – Texas-based Southwest Airlines introduced a uniform featuring bright orange hot pants (see the video below). Also offering drinks called Love Potions on their flights, the airline clearly believed in the motto 'sex sells' and refused to hire male cabin crew members until the company was sued for discrimination in the 1980s.


The garment even inspired a Singaporean musical, called, well, Hot Pants. How many fashion designers can claim that?
The opening song even contains the line 'hotpants and butterflies and rainbows colour my dreams'.

Despite the abundance of hot pants on the catwalk and high street, some people preferred to make their own, as documented by these vintage patterns. 

Photo: Jeff Robbins/Flickr

Photo: Lisa Yarost/Flickr
The Dukes of Hazzard
Anyone who thought hot pants were nothing more than a '70s fad was proved wrong when they became a trademark of US TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, which ran from 1979 to 1985. Catherine Bach wore denim shorts in many of her appearances as Daisy, cousin of the show's two main characters. Here's one of her costumes, now on display in an American museum.

Photo: Tracie Hall/Wikimedia Commons

Present-day fashion

Mandelli clearly saw no reason to change a design that still worked – here a model wears leather hot pants by Mandelli's label Krizia at Milan Fashion Week in 2004. 

Photo: Patrick Hertzog/AFP

Below, Dolce & Gabbana incorporate hot pants into their 2010-2011 Fall/Winter collection. Yes, you read that right – winter. 

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

Kylie takes hot pants for a spin

The gold pair of shorts worn by Kylie Minogue in the video for her single Spinning Around might be the most famous pair on this list. Bought in an Oxfam shop by her creative director for just 50p, the hot pants were donated to Melbourne's Performing Artists Museum last year.

Hot pants for men
Hot pants are still hot stuff in the advertising world, but this decade, many brands are subverting gender norms by putting men in shorts to sell their product. In the below video, a UK insurance comparison brand tries to sex up their brand by dressing 'Dave' in Daisy Duke-esque shorts.
But hot pants are not always such a good choice for advertisers. In July, a group of men dressed in leather shorts to promote salad (no, we don't see the link either) in Beijing were confronted by police when they marched through the city's streets handing out lettuce.
So whatever happens to Krizia, which she sold to Chinese designer and entrepreneur Zhu Chongyun in 2014, the hot pant ensures Mariuccia Mandelli's place in the cultural canon is assured.

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Inside the world of Italy’s designer to ‘the 0.001 percent’

Florence-based luxury designer tells of super-rich customers who shop by private jet, and his experience of dressing the Pope.

Inside the world of Italy's designer to 'the 0.001 percent'
Italian luxury designer Stefano Ricci (C) poses with his sons Niccolo (R) and Filippo, during a preview of his Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Photo: AFP

Italian luxury clothing designer Stefano Ricci and his sons are touring the sumptuous Reggia di Caserta near Naples by horse-drawn carriage as they unveil their latest clothing collection.

The tour the vast gardens at sunset, stopping to sip champagne as models in impeccably-tailored suits in grain yellow, flaming red and galactic blue pose near an ancient fountain.

The grounds of the Reggia di Caserta palace  near Naples. Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

The decision to host an intimate preview of their Spring/Summer Collection 2020 at the UNESCO world heritage site, rather than during Milan's frenetic fashion week, is emblematic of a brand the New York Times dubs “Clothier to the 0.001 Percent”.

The Florence-based menswear and accessories brand, founded in 1972, has outfitted celebrities from Andrea Bocelli to Morgan Freeman and Tom Cruise, as well as world leaders like Nelson Mandela, and even Pope Francis.

The latest collection, which features pinstripe suits, colourful knitwear, field jackets and a tux, is named “King for a Day”.

Models wearing Ricci's creations. Photo: ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

In an era where designer goods can be bought online or snapped up in outlets, Ricci says he offers the world's wealthiest men a personalised experience in buying Made in Italy items created using traditional Florentine sartorial techniques.

“Our customer still needs to experience the emotion, to touch the product. Have it explained to them in person, see the tailor, have his measurements taken, be told a story,” Niccolo Ricci, the company's CEO, told AFP at the preview this week.

“He wants to be pampered for an hour,” he said.

Collected by private plane

“Sometimes we have superstitious customers who want trousers, a suit, shirts for example for important appointments, and given the extremely tight deadlines they give us to deliver the clothes, they send their private plane to get them on time”.

Whether hankering after a 5,050 euro suede jacket or a 1,600 euro silk-and-crocodile baseball cap, the typical client is an “alpha-male”, preferably an outdoorsy type with “a love of antique art”, according to Stefano Ricci.

Stafano Ricci. Photo: AFP

“The Ricci man loves the mountains, the woods, dogs and – I'm not afraid to say it – hunting,” he said.

The bearded designer, 67, a keen hunter himself, says his passion for high-end tailoring is “a virus”.

“When it gets hold of you, you produce more, more, more, until you say 'what the heck can I invent now to better this?'”

His latest challenge? “Creating a material which has a compact structure but is at the same time extremely soft… and luminous, not like polished glass but like the skin of a beautiful young girl”.

“No price limit”

Focusing on the richest segment of society in emerging markets like Russia, China and the Middle East – the brand is about to open a shop in Turkmenistan – has shielded it from factors weighing on sales at other luxury houses.

“We've found there is no price limit if the customer finds himself with a quality product,” Niccolo Ricci said.

READ ALSO: The richest Florence families in 1427 are still rich today

“So even for a suit that costs 25,000 euros, if the customer understands the work that has been done on it, the quality of the fabric, our commitment to sourcing quality raw materials for our exclusive collections, then the customer is on board”.

The 2018 financial year closed with a turnover of 150 million, and the company registered a five percent growth in the first quarter of this year “despite difficulties such as the tariff war between the US and China, (and) Brexit or no Brexit”.

Photo: AFP

“I have been lucky enough to do something I love, to work with my wife, my family, and I've now passed the baton to my sons,” Stefano Ricci says as he stands at the top of a vast marble staircase leading to the royal apartments.

“I design the collections a bit, I give guidelines, I participate in the process, but I'm much more relaxed now”

Among the highlights of his career is a white silk vestment made for Pope Francis in 2015.

“I dressed the pope! I can't do better than that, it's the truth,” he laughs. “I couldn't hope for more”.

READ ALSO: The little-known tax rule that's got the super-rich flocking to Italy