Gianfranco Ferrè: the architect of haute couture

Gianfranco Ferrè: the architect of haute couture

Born in Legnano in August 1944, Gianfranco Ferrè brought the rules of architecture into the fashion system, creating a special revolution for the haute couture.


His debut in the world of fashion takes place when he started to design bijoux and accessories, which then gave to him architecture classmates.

His creations were noticed by Rosy Biffi, owner of an avant-garde boutique in Milan, she won over by the genius of these handcrafted objects, introduced them to her store and offers them to her buyers.

As fate would have it, these jewels were seen by some fashion editors and photographed in the magazines of the sector. In the weekly “L’ Espresso “, Camilla Cederna talked about Ferrè productions, offering him new notoriety.

In 1973 Ferré decided to embark on the first of his trips to India where, on behalf of a Genoese clothing company, “San Giorgio Impermeabili”, he designed and had the “Ketch” collection produced on site. Ferré was fascinated by this country, and never missed the opportunity to visit it, studying its craftsmanship and its possible potential in the field of fashion.

The stay in India, which lasts until 1977, maintaining a series of collaborative relationships with already established names, such as Walter Albini and Christiane Bailly, and with knitwear and swimwear companies. In 1974, here are the first fashion shows and collections with Franco Mattioli, an entrepreneur who will become his partner in 1978. In fact, it was in May 1978 that the company “Gianfranco Ferré” was founded, with headquarters in Via San Damiano, then moved to Via della Spiga.

At the Hotel “Principe di Savoia” in Milan, the first exciting women’s prêt à porter fashion show takes place in October of the same year. In 1982 the launch of men’s clothing and the creation of a wide range of accessories and products with leading companies in their respective product sectors took place, up to 1986, the experience of Haute Couture, with fashion shows in Rome that take place for six seasons.

Fil rouge of his entire career, a classic garment in which tradition and innovation are combined, the white shirt has been defined by the designer himself: “a sign of my style”, “a term of universal use in the contemporary lexicon of elegance, which however each he pronounces as he wishes », that is, susceptible of infinite interpretations.

“It’s all too easy to tell about my white shirt. It is all too easy to declare a love that runs like a red thread along my entire creative path. A sign – perhaps “the” sign – of my style, which declares a constant search for novelty and a no less constant love for tradition “.

Not just fashion shows, in fact, in 1983 Ferré participated in the didactic development for the nascent “Domus Academy”, a post-graduate school of Design and where, until 1989, he directed the “Design of the suit” course. In the early 90s Gianfranco Ferré was appointed Artistic Director of Christian Dior, a position he held until 1996.

A new important and well-deserved recognition took place in March 2007, when Ferré was appointed President of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, the harsh law of the market decreed, in 2014, the definitive closure of the Ferré brand, announces Paris Group Dubai, the company that owns the company.

Balance, elegance and rigor are the distinctive features of his production as well as of his lifestyle. That “analytical and logical method that teaches how to educate creativity” that derives from his architectural studies leads him to take care of every detail.

The fashion architect elaborates one of his styles, very personal and modern, made of perfect cuts and dresses structured and built around the body.


On June 15, 2007, the designer was hospitalized for checks at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. On the morning of June 17, he was struck by a severe cerebral hemorrhage, which led him to go off peacefully in the evening of the same day.

Creating a dress therefore requires knowing how to dream rationally. Many have defined my clothes as ‘textile architectures’. I like the definition. It gives a good idea of ​​what the dress is for me: the result of an encounter between form and matter, ‘guided’ by the hand of the creator. I would not use other definitions. I would simply complete this one: my clothes are textile architectures designed for the body. Which the body makes alive.
(Gianfranco Ferrè)

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