A native from Legnano in northern Italy, Gianfranco Ferre, born on August 15, 1944, began his exciting and highly successful career in the world of fashion in 1970. Although he earned a degree in architecture in 1969, he chose to follow a different path. He began to design an array of fashion accessories for the owners of a boutique in Portofino.
Gianfranco Ferre: Functional Elegance
Ferre did not step far from his architectural learning. He maintained meticulous attention to the balance and structure of each of his creations. The Fashion House of Ferre has had extremely successful collections of fashionable wear for women and men. It had thriving lines of classy fragrances and stylish accessories. It was thanks to its founder’s love for classic proportions and simple yet grandiose beauty.
Gianfranco Ferre’s expansion history
After two years of designing accessories, Ferre began designing raincoats for a manufacturer in Genoa. Then, he continued this line of work for the next two years. This position also required extensive travel and led to his fascination with Asia, especially India. His experiences in this country flavored his designs by combining a tang of the East with a taste of the West. This would later give his collections an air of relaxed sophistication.
The Beginnings of the Ferre Label
Ferre’s fashion company was launched in 1974 under the distinctive label ‘Baila”. Two signature collections for women were introduced in 1978- a ready-to-wear line and a sportier line. Ferre fashion immediately took on a look of its own with simple lines. Those created a bold and distinctive look that was characteristically recognizable as a Ferre creation.
This look was appreciated by women tired of the “power-suit” look, and the Ferre designs which were feminine and powerful at the same time catapulted their creator into fame and fortune. In fact, not long after, the white dressmaker blouse became a staple for Ferre, albeit with original stylistic touches. This when Ferre earned the nickname of “Frank Lloyd Wright of fashion” because of his nod to the architectural discipline in his designs.
The launch of unique perfume fragrances in 1982’s collections
Shortly thereafter in 1982, a well-received collection for men was introduced by Ferre. In 1984, he launched a fine, unique perfume for women, and a distinguished fragrance for men in 1986. The same year, his first couture collection was presented to the world of high fashion in the city of Rome. Ferre met with immediate success as buyers and the press were wowed by his bold collection of elegant and sophisticated fashion.
Gianfranco Ferre at Dior
In 1989, LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault chose Ferre as the creative director of Christian Dior. Gianfranco Ferre replaced Marc Bohan at the time, amid French surprise at the placing of the House of Christian Dior in the control of an Italian. Nonetheless, Gianfranco Ferre met with great success and was awarded the “De d’Or” in July 1989 for the Haute Couture collection presented in Paris. In1996, Ferre decided to end his relationship with the House of Christian Dior. In 1997, after Dior’s spring collection hit the ramp, the two parted and went their separate ways.
Ferre’s collections have been distinctly different than those of Dior, presenting a more relaxed look. The add-ons to outfits, such as pockets, have been functional, practical, and appealing.
Gianfranco Ferre’s Style – Several awards over the fashion industry
Ferre consistently veered away from trends, publicity stunts, and stylistic gimmicks. He preferred instead to rely on the appeal and interest of careful designs and balanced forms for his collections. His clients included Sharon Stone, Elizabeth Taylor, and Oprah Winfrey, to name just a few.
Starting from 1983, Ferre was awarded several times over in the fashion industry for his great talent and magnificent contributions to fashion.
Moreover, among the many awards that he earned through his creativeness and stylistic talent and rightfully received are the “Occhio d’Or” in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, and 1989, the “Modepreis” in 1985, the Cutty Sark Men’s Fashion Award in 1985, and the “Milanese dell Anno” in 1989.
Gianfranco Ferre – The end of an era
In 2002, Gianfranco Ferré SPA became part of IT Holding, though Ferre remained the creative director of the brand, retaining the simple yet elegant lines that had become his signature over the decades.
What happened to the brand? – A fashion philosophy until the end
Ferre continued to carry the brand forward until 2007. Then, he tragically succumbed to a brain hemorrhage at the age of 62. In a statement after Ferre’s demise, Giorgio Armani said in a statement: “I always observed his work and particularly admired him for his coherence and the intellectualism and artistry upon which he based his fashion philosophy until the end.”
The brand was subsequently put under the creative direction of Lars Nilsson. He presented the autumn/winter 2008-9 menswear and then left. The Gianfranco Ferré’s autumn/winter 2008-9 womenswear was designed by the in-house creative team. In 2008, Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi became the creative directors of Ferre womenswear.
The House of Gianfranco Ferre, a legacy that stays forever
According to Michela Piva, CEO of Gianfranco Ferré SpA, “Tommaso Aquilano e Roberto Rimondi shift easily between cool classic and contemporary femininity. Moreover, their designs are rigorous, their feel for quality infallible. These characteristics correspond exactly to what Gianfranco Ferré always upheld.” This was amply proved in the Spring 2009 collection where the duo came out with a collection that carried on Ferre’s legacy and created a look of “rigorous softness” that can easily translate from the fashion ramp to real life. This has given the fashion world new hope that the House of Gianfranco Ferre would live up to its illustrious name in the years to come.
The Gianfranco Ferre brand, nowadays – Gianfranco Ferre Home
Nowadays, the brand is still growing and expanding, having representative and reseller shops in Italy and all around the world, presenting the “made in Italy” tag everywhere. All starting with shops in Italy, with several shops in Ukraine, Bologne, Indonesia, Philippines,s and many more. Now, it is owned by a Paris group based in Dubai and it’s mostly specialized in home interior designs, furniture, and accessories.
The Gianfranco Ferré Home line for created in 2014 and is known for exclusive and elegant expression eclectic style furnishings that keep alive the creative heritage of the designer. Seen as an Icon of the Italian style and innovative designer of patterns, Ferre has his legacy alive in key factors of the home furnishings. The materials and fabrics used are of the highest quality. The craftsmanship and experimentation of new techniques are the key factors that the designer used during his lifelong work.
Also, The modern minimalism and creative essentials make this collection constantly evolve. The diverse needs of customers worldwide designed the versatility which characterizes those furniture pieces and home accessories, reassuring the comfortable elegance that has always been Gianfranco Ferre’s key to success.
By Susan M. Keenan
Edited and updated by Damyanti, December 2008