Nino Cerruti

Giulia Bussinello

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA072

Nino Cerruti was born in Biella in Italy in 1930, and his personal history coincides with that of postwar Italian fashion. His family owned a woolen firm, Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti, founded in 1881 by the brothers Antonio, Quintino, and Stefano Cerruti; Nino abandoned his studies in journalism and philosophy when his father died in 1950, and took over the reins of the firm.

His decision to enter men’s fashion—a world where he is now considered to be the great codifier of Italian style—sprang from his knowledge and experience in the field of textiles together with a deep sense of identification with the world of fashion. In fact, in 1957 in Corsico, in the province of Milan, he founded Hitman, a firm specializing in the production of menswear, which marked the beginning of luxury ready-to-wear men’s clothing.

The first line to be launched, a collaboration with the tailor and fashion designer Osvaldo Testa, was Flying Cross. This combined Italian tailoring tradition with an Anglo-Saxon taste in textiles. Cerruti 1881 was set up in 1967, and a single-brand Parisian boutique, designed by the important Italian architect Vico Magistretti, was opened. The new line also presented a women’s wear collection followed, in 1968, by the first fashion show in which male and female models wore the same clothing, in harmony with the new unisex ideas current at the time.

From the very start, Nino Cerruti understood the importance of linking his status as a businessman with a strong design sense to people with great creative talent in order to create a productive union that could become a fundamental aspect of Italian fashion. This saw Hitman’s interaction with such creative talents as Narciso Rodriguez, Peter Speliopoulous, and Giorgio Armani—who entered the firm in 1965 with the idea of creating a completely new and modern kind of elegance. Hitman produced a new, deconstructed and self-assured man’s jacket, one of the iconic garments of Italian fashion. It was unlined, flared, with wide shoulders and, in order to soften its outlines, made from fabrics previously considered to be the domain of women’s wear.

Nino Cerruti’s casual chic was a worldwide success: in Hollywood in the 1980s he was asked to create exclusive clothing for renowned actors Clint Eastwood, Michael Douglas, Tom Hanks, Jeremy Irons, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, and Harrison Ford. In 1980 he launched the sports line 18CRR81 followed, in 1986, by the Cerruti Brothers collection, devoted to leisure time.

In 2000 Cerruti sold Cerruti 1881 to the Fin.part group and returned to Lanificio to start working on a new project for interior design; in order to do so he acquired Baleri-Italia, a leading firm in the sector, and created a new brand: Cerruti Baleri.

Nino Cerruti, Fall/Winter 1999 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Bianchino Gloria et al., eds. La moda italiana . Milan : Electa, 1987.

Cerruti. Website. .

Find in Library Fiorentini Aurora. Moda italiana anni Cinquanta e Sessanta . Florence : Cantini, 1991.

Find in Library Gastel Minnie. 50 anni di moda italiana: breve storia del prêt-à-porter . Milan : Vallardi, 1995.

Find in Library Vergani Guido , ed. Dizionario della moda . Milan : Baldini Castoldi Dalai, 2009.