Friday, January 30th
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"A fragrance is like a dress, an expression of personality. It can be both erotic or powerful, or both, but it always combines femininity and sensuality."
Known as “The architect of fashion” Gianfranco Ferre was born and raised in a small town outside of Milan, Italy. Growing up Ferre did not intend on becoming a fashion designer but gained an appreciation for the craft because of his elegant, well-to-do family members who wore opulent jewels and owned beautiful homes. In 1969 Ferre graduated from the Polytechnic Institute of Milan (Politecnico Milano) with a degree in architecture. After graduation, Ferre had a hard time breaking into the architectural world and began working as an interior decorator and jewelry designer. For the next few years Ferre was employed by a variety of designers like Walter Albini and Elio Fiorucci to design jewelry, raincoats, scarves, and belts. In the early 70s, Ferre decided to travel the world, spending a majority of his time in the East, particularly India.
Returning to Milan in 1974 Gianfranco Ferre launched a women’s ready-to-wear label called ‘Baila’ and won the Tiberio d’Oro for his collections. Four years later, in 1978, Ferre established the new fashion house, ‘Gianfranco Ferre’ with yet another womenswear collection and in 1982 introduced a menswear line. During 1986 he presented his first haute couture eveningwear collection in Rome featuring colorful fabrics, ostrich feathers, fur trims, jeweled details and Japanese Obi’s (sashes), all influences of the East. Thanks to his elegant and fabulous eveningwear his celebrity clientele started building and included the likes of Barbara Streisand, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and most notably Diana, Princess of Wales.
In 1989, Ferre was hand picked by Bernard Arnault to work as creative director for the prestigious house of Christian Dior. It was unheard of for an Italian to design for a French house but Ferre took the challenge head on and created designs that combined Dior’s original style with a more modern look. Within a couple of months Ferre successfully presented his first collection under the Dior name. He received the Dé d'Or Award for the best Paris collection of the year and garnered even more clients like Princess Michael of Kent, opera singer Jessye Norman, and infamous Eva Peron (Ferre’s muse and one of Dior’s original customers). After effectively revitalizing the house of Dior, Ferre left in 1996 to concentrate on his own company. Once back at ‘Gianfranco Ferre’ fulltime he expanded his label to include production on fragrances, sportier ready-to-wear, fur, high-end accessories, children’s wear, eyewear, and a line of jeans. For the next decade Gianfranco Ferre was a continued success, collaborating with companies like Ducati, Korean Air, and Galadari Investment Office (GIO), where he oversaw the design and style of their real estate ventures.
Gianfranco’s signature womenswear look consisted of crisp lines, exact cutting, and visible seams. Ferre received numerous awards in his lifetime including the ‘Occhio d'Oro’ Award for Best Italian Designer (six times), the Gold Medal from the City of Milan, and the decoration ‘Commendatore del Ordine’ from the President of the Italy. Sadly, Gianfranco Ferre passed away in June of 2007