Gianfranco Ferré

Giulia Bussinello

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA064

Gianfranco Ferré was born in Legnano, near Milan, in 1944 and graduated in architecture from the Milan polytechnic in 1969. During his time as a student, Ferré began to design and make accessories and jewelry by hand; these caught the attention of various fashion magazine editors, among them Anna Piaggi, who would mention his work in the magazines. This almost chance recognition of his talent led the young Gianfranco to collaborate with such well-established names as Walter Albini and Christiane Bailly.

In 1972, a new and important collaboration permitted him to get to know the world of industrial production and to travel. It was while working for San Giorgio Impermeabili, a clothing firm from Genoa, that he went to India for the first time in order to design and produce a collection. India deeply fascinated him and was to continue to influence his creativity.

In 1978, he founded the Gianfranco Ferré firm in Milan. The first menswear collection was presented in 1982, followed a year later by the Gianfranco Ferré Jeans line. In 1984 the new Gianfranco Ferré Night collection was shown at the Cooper and Hewitt Museum in New York; this then developed into the couture collection, which was to be presented in Rome every year until 1989. In 1987 the experimental Studio 000.1 by Ferré menswear and women’s wear lines made their debut and, in 1988, he launched Gianfranco Ferré Fourrures (furs).

In May 1989 Bernard Arnault, of the LVMH group, nominated Ferré as artistic director of the haute couture, prêt-à-porter, and fur collections of Maison Christian Dior in the place of Marc Bohan. He held this post until 1996.

New lines were also established in 1996: Gianfranco Ferré Sport and GIEFFEFFE/GFF, a line of clothing for young men and women; in 2003 this was combined with Gianfranco Ferré Jeans and was later substituted by GF Ferré. A children’s collection was launched in 2000, while 2003 saw his first collection of jewelry.

In 1998 the fashion house marked the twentieth year since its foundation with the opening of new headquarters in Via Pontaccio, in the heart of Milan. In November 2002 the Gianfranco Ferré society was taken over by IT Holdings, Turin, and Gianfranco Ferré became its artistic director. In 2007, after being elected president of the Accademia delle Belle Art di Brera, Gianfranco Ferré suddenly died of a brain hemorrhage on 17 June.

In January 2008, Lars Nilsson was nominated creative director of the fashion house; he left the post shortly after and was replaced by the young duo of Tommaso Aquilani and Roberto Rimondi. In 2011 another duo—Stefano Citron and Federico Piaggi—inherited the legacy of the designer known as the “architect of fashion.”

Gianfranco Ferré, Spring/Summer 1998 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Airaghi Rita , ed. Gianfranco Ferré: disegni . Milan : Skira, 2010.

Find in Library Alfonsi Vittoria. Gianfranco Ferré: l’architetto stilista . Milan : Baldini Castoldi Dalai, 2008.

Find in Library Frisa Luisa , ed. Lezioni di moda: Gianfranco Ferré . Venice : Marsilio, 2009.

Gianfranco Ferré. Website.