Gianfranco Ferré SS84: 'From Architect to Suede and Satin' 

FIDM MUSEUM & GALLERIES

Runway Photography from the Michel Arnaud Archive at the FIDM Museum, Los Angeles

Low-slung
Much of the press circling Milan’s fashion shows for Spring/Summer 1984 focused on the concept of Japanese inspiration executed with Italian deftness.  “This is the Italian view of spring fashion to date, as Milan’s most famous designers reinvent the kimono,” reported The Los Angeles Times in 1983. [1] Native Milanese designer Gianfranco Ferré enthusiastically embraced the direction towards a lack of clutter, hinging heavily on hip-centric styles reminiscent of obis.  When interviewed about the Japanese parallel, the outspoken designer retorted “Please don’t say these clothes look Japanese.  It’s really from my trip to India.”  Ferré goes on to compare his breezy, wrapped styles to Indian saris and kurtas. [2]

The designer long championed a hip-centered fit, seen here accentuating the figure of what is otherwise a loose, menswear-inspired ensemble.

He “likes the double blazer for spring--the first one worn as a blouse secured with a hip-hugging corselet belt, and its photocopy worn as a jacket-jacket.” [3]

Architectural Fashion
The influence of architecture on Ferré’s work was not a mere coincidence; he graduated with a degree in architecture from Milan University in 1969.  After finding a lack of opportunities in the field, the designer embarked on a career in fashion, stating “I had no interest in becoming an interior decorator, which was the only other alternative.”  The clean, simple lines of architecture translated seamlessly to fashion, and although Ferré’s label was in its infancy in 1984, his efforts were already met with much acclaim. [4]

The designer’s hallmark of uncluttered, purposeful lines is identifiable, but rather than cause “his fashions to be criticized as stiff and structured,” his creations now fall lightly and loosely. [5]

Color Pop
Grey, white, and navy are predominant in this collection (Ferré himself comments on a penchant for “plain fabrics in neutral colors” [6]) but peppered with glimpses of bright acid pink and orange in delicate calf leathers. [7]

In the sea of subdued navy, oyster gray, and white, vibrant flashes of hot pink, brick red, and orange appear, as seen in this two-piece ensemble paired with the de rigeur flat shoes of 1984. [8]

Flat shoes prevailed on this season's runways, ushering in an era where women needn’t sacrifice comfort for style.

Spirit of Flashdance
Off the shoulder styles were deemed in “the spirit of ‘Flashdance’” by The Washington Post writer Nina Hyde [9], this example combining a “loose-fitting knit in creamy white” with a “hip-length, oversized, all-revealing white satin tank top.” [10]  

Flashdance,” released by Paramount Studios in 1983, featured Jennifer Beals as lead character Alex Owens, who sported iconic dancewear ensembles by costume designer Michael Kaplan. [11]

White Satin
As seen here with a racy, deep V-neck silk blouse, daring décolletages meant clothing did not always behave as intended on the runway, seen here with a racy, deep v-neck white silk blouse.  Gianfranco Ferré Spring/Summer 1984 was hardly the only show suffering from such mishaps, as one fashion journalist noted similar exposure at Luciano Soprani.  “The clothes flipped open far wider than the models realized, and they passed signals to one another when their bare chests were showing.” [12]
Personal Style
At the time, Ferré had only been designing for his label for four years; already he advocated that clothing should be comfortable, well-made, and enhance the personal style of the wearer.  “The woman has to be comfortable,” said Ferré.  “She has to feel that the clothes she puts on have her own style, not one that is imposed on her by a designer.” [13]
Credits: Story

© FIDM Museum & Library, Inc.

Research and text by Yvonne Sone.

Photography by Michel Arnaud.

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ENDNOTES
1. Marylou Luther, “Japan to U.S. via Italy in a Year of Contradictions,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Oct. 7, 1983.
2. Nina Hyde, “Loose & Leathery in Milan,” Washington Post (Washington, DC), Oct. 1, 1983.
3. Marylou Luther, “Japan to U.S. via Italy in a Year of Contradictions,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Oct. 7, 1983.
4. Janet Stobart, “GIanfranco Ferré: From Architecture to Suede and Satin,” Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), Oct. 20, 1983.
5. Ibid.
6. June Weir, “Italy/Ferre,” New York Times (New York, NY), Feb. 27, 1983.
7. Mary Russell, “Backstage, Paris/Milan: Spring-Summer ‘84 in the Making,” Vogue (New York, NY), Nov. 1, 1983.
8. Jill Gerston, “The Classic and Simple in Milan,” Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), Oct. 4, 1983
9. Nina Hyde, “Fashion Notes,” Washington Post (Washington, DC), Oct. 9, 1983.
10. Janet Stobart, “GIanfranco Ferré: From Architecture to Suede and Satin,” Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), Oct. 20, 1983.
11. “Flashdance,” IMDB, accessed May 1, 2017, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085549/.
12. Nina Hyde, “Fashion Notes,” Washington Post (Washington, DC), Oct. 9, 1983.
13. June Weir, “Italy/Ferre,” New York Times (New York, NY), Feb. 27, 1983.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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