Age-old techniques and crafts traditions recount an everlasting tale, sweeping across the ages from the India of a thousand years ago to the India of the twenty-first century, capturing through colors, fibers and fabrics an integral part of the country’s anthropological culture.
India is a land of inimitable textiles, rich with esoteric symbology. Whether lavish or humble, they accompany every Indian throughout his or her life. Important prints featuring elaborate motifs - as in the boteh ones - appear even on inexpensive fabrics. Embroidery becomes authentic artwork, while other amazing forms of textile art - precious applications, dazzling metallic inserts, unique types of topstitching - set India a class apart.
Shawls made by using a special shuttle weaving system to create the pattern date all the way back to ancient times in the Indian region of Kashmir, where Napoleon Bonaparte "discovered" them during his Egyptian campaign (1798-1801). Subsequently imported into Europe, they are famous for the twisted teardrop motif called boteh.
Soon textilers in France were imitating the design by using the less expensive jacquard weaving technique. In the process the typical boteh motif took on an increasingly elongated shape.
Great Britain too made an important contribution to the trend: the Scottish town of Paisley, major production center for this type of fabric, became synonymous with the cashmere design.
The rare beauty of every paisley pattern comes from a particular delicacy of hue - thanks to the use of natural dyes - and from the infinite variety of combinations.
In the Spring/Summer 1991 Prêt-à-Porter collection the vibrantly rich embroidery serves as lavish counterpoint to the traditional silk print motif.
Ever intent upon staying true to traditional arts thanks to Italian expertise in producing artisan textiles, Gianfranco Ferré infused the boteh with a fresh force while in no way misrepresenting its ancient origins.
“Primitivism of form is instrumental in heightening the impact of the material. As for the woman’s body, it makes quite a strong statement even when clothed in a fabulous semi-sheer boteh print”.
Indian art - linked to the tangible, visible world - brings Man closer to the Gods.
Gianfranco Ferré perceives in representations of divinities the principles of feminine beauty, a supersensory spiritual dimension, and with emotional intensity explores reference sources. All in pursuit of ornate detailing on Indian temples, magnificent stage sets for the culture of this land.
"Vibrating between legendary enchantment and latest-generation software, India tells a magical story that I let myself be enthralled by, paraphrasing it in exquisite fashion mode, completed by a tech twist.
In narrating this passionate exploration of mine, I made deliberate mention of all that’s pure and strong, vibrant and free, modern and stimulating in the ancient soul of this amazing land".
Through body ornamentation art makes a joyously sensuous statement, expresses sheer exuberance.
“In India people appreciate the refinement at once complex and sublime of henné skin decorations. While perfectly common, the art has a distinct element of virtuosity.
Even if unfathomable to me, I understood that each one of these marks holds a message, has a meaning, tells a story.
And stopping to admire them involves getting taken away to a universe that transcends rationality and crosses over into a fascinating realm embedded deep in the Indian soul”.
“Gold in dull or dazzling form, silver with a varyingly lustrous sheen, poor metals apparently as fine as precious ones, stones of a phantasmagorically kaleidoscopic beauty...
Indian jewelry plays richly with symbolic values, serves an essential - possibly even ostentatious - role in decorating the body.
I made this jewelry my own, integrated it into my creative imagination, reinterpreted it in my collections, always pairing it with exquisitely simple looks, unequivocally Western of style”.
India is a land of myths and legends, infinite energy and creativity, where a piece of jewelry is much more than an artistic creation. Ferré grasps the aesthetic essence of the jewel as a talisman, a mark of social status, an attestation of some important ritual, an ornament in the sense not of pure decoration but of indispensable complement.
He reproduces it as a product of the modern technology.
Bearing in mind Indian tradition - according to which jewelry plays a crucial symbolic/decorative role, as without them nothing seems to be completed - Ferré adorns and defines the sensual beauty of this uniquely shaped dress.
When the superfluous becomes absolute necessity: that’s the essence of the ornament’s function.
Stunning design, golden patina, spiral shape, artful craftsmanship merge in what for Indians is never a mere symbol of elegance. Jewelry is, rather, an identity mark encompassing and revealing spirituality, social group and rank, a sense of magic.
In this case too the modern technology reproduces the shape of the object, yet making them lighter and more flexible.
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.
Gianfranco Ferré, “I colori dell’India”, Ulisse 2000 magazine, January 1988.
Gianfranco Ferré, “A colori indelebili”, Capital magazine, December 1991.
Maria Luisa Frisa, “Un sogno lungo vent’anni”, Amica fashion weekly, October 9, 1998.
Guido Vergani, “Ferré”, Sette news weekly, October 10-16, 1998.
Maria Giulia Minetti, “I miei primi 20 anni”, Lo specchio della stampa news weekly, October 31, 1998.
Brigitte Benkemoi, “Gianfranco Ferré, Carnets de voyage”, AOM Magazine, December 1998/January 1999.
Karin Hesedenz, “Das Mode-Monument”, German Vogue, November 1998.
Olivier Lalanne, “La force tranquille”, Vogue Paris, September 1998.
Samantha Conti, “Hip Hip Ferré”, W Magazine, October 1998. Silvia Paoli, “Il leone non dorme”, Vanity Fair (Italy), August 10, 2004.