“In the late ‘60s I was still student at the Polytechnic… as a proper autodidact I made my first jewelry: some belts, unusual objects for the time, avantgarde compared to what you could see in the fashion magazines of that age. In a way, they were examples of authentic craftsmanship. The rigor of the forms and the precise sense of design went hand in hand with direct intervention in the material”.
“Row-cut leather, metal, hardware elements, plastic: materials I molded and modeled by hand. I showed these objects to some female friends and fellow students at the university, gave them some of them and in the end people in the industry noticed them. They were liked, made an impression and they were photographed”.
“My ‘objects’ win the attention of both the buyers and the press. So, my first professional partnerships start with the creation of accessories lines, with Christiane Bailly and especially with Walter Albini, one among the founders of the Italian ready-to-wear, the very first designer who connected the fashion of the traditional atelier to the industrial sector.
Among my first collections, maybe my very first important step, the KETCH line, entirely produced in India and commissioned by San Giorgio Impermeabili, a Genoa based company.
This induced my great love for India, with its culture, its colours and flavours…”.
Between 1973 and 1978, a plenty of new professional partnerships:
“I remember the Baila debut, at the 'Elefante Bianco' restaurant, on Via San Maurilio in Milan, in 1974. With no catwalk, the guest were seated around tables. The press showed up, even not in great numbers. And obviously my friends were there. I remember the wild applause, lots of enthusiasm, a good degree of astonishment”.
… the accessories lines, scarves and bags…
“Accessories have always catalyzed people's emblematic interest in what makes for a special detail and/or particular nuance. In addition to serving as a complement to the outfit, the accessory plays a fundamental role in terms of its expressive value, its function as a distinctive element or identifying feature”.
The assonance “Ferré - Architect”
“Creating fashion is certainly an operation of the imagination, an expression of sensitivity and intuition, but indispensable to it is the contribution of method, an aptitude for design that is founded on the conception of the garment as the result of a planned and conscious intervention in forms”.
“A process of construction that starts out from a two-dimensional reality - that of the design traced on paper in the form of a drawing - but with the human body as an indispensable referent from the very beginning”.
“Dressing a woman or a man thus means reasoning in terms of lines, volumes, proportions. Just like in ‘dressing’ a physical space.
The essential difference lies in the fact that for a fashion designer the primary reference is the human body, i.e. an entity in motion to be considered as such right from the preliminary sketch.
In both situations moreover the emotional factor - intrinsic to fantasy and sensibility - can not and must not be missing”.
“Without ever forgetting that fashion means also dreaming”
“From material fashion derives its own substance and even its physical and tangible existence. Technological experimentation offers unheard-of possibilities for the utilization of materials, optimizes their qualities and potentialities, makes possible unprecedented mixes, combinations and treatments and ‘invents’ new ones…”
“Color represents an inseparable category with respect to the idea of the garment, to its form and its nature, right from the very first idea and the very first sketch on paper.
… Research for new shades and highlights, surprising tones and nuances that form in turn a more multifaceted vocabulary of their own that expresses energy, poetry, magic, allure, purity”.
Having to choose a single, recurring theme in the Ferré fashion shows, we can not fail to mention the white shirt: “It is never the same, yet always unmistakable in its own identity. The white blouse may be light and floaty, flawlessly severe if the mannish cut remains, as sumptuously enveloping as a cloud, as skinny and snug as a bodysuit…”
“Some of its parts, primarily collar and cuffs, become emphatic; others expressly lose ‘force’ and may even disappear: back, shoulders, sleeves. The blouse comes with precious lace and embroidery; turns sexy thanks to the use of sheer fabrics; acquires ultra importance with gorgeous ruffles and ruches”.
Reason or feeling?
“Creating fashion is an emotional process that presupposes impulse and inventiveness, that brings into play suggestions, sensations, impressions. Yet the methodological approach is an indispensable aspect of creative activity. The emotional and sensory input has to be rationalized, analyzed, codified and brought within a perspective of design. Thus creating a garment means knowing how to dream rationally”.
“A man is what he does, what he accomplishes in life... And I'm convinced it's my work that tells my story best: the clothes I create, the style I've developed over the years, the aesthetic values I strive to express in a fully consistent way, the objectives I've achieved, the projects I'm excited about pursuing in the here and now, the challenges I never tire of taking up and meeting...”
Drawn from his notes, lessons and interviews, the words, thoughts and ideas of Gianfranco Ferré - here in the form of quotes - express the designer’s passion for the real, yet mostly imaginary “neverending journey” that always inspirited his style, his collections.
Ferré Gianfranco, "Lettres à un jeune couturier", Editions Ballard, Paris, 1995.
Ferré Giusi (curated by), "Gianfranco Ferré. Itinerario", Leonardo Arte, Milan, 1999.
Frisa Maria Luisa (curated by), "Gianfranco Ferré. Lezioni di Moda", Marsilio, Venice, 2009.
A.A.V.V., "Fashion Intelligence", Edizioni del Sud, Bari, 2016.