Gianfranco Ferré: a neverending journey

Introduction

Gianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano

Gianfranco Ferré, 1999Gianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano

“I believe that the revisitation of periods and places, the fusion between past and future, East and West, is a key component of the ‘global intelligence’ of fashion which, in pursuit of the facts and findings, motivations and emotions that go into constructing its messages, has an innate need to ignore the limits of time and space”.

World map produced in Amsterdam, 1689 by Giovan Battista NicolosiGianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano

In view of current geopolitical issues and events, talking now about the multicultural vision of human knowledge and endeavor seems quite natural.

This synchronic and diachronic vision accompanied Ferré from the very start of his career, forming a bond with his own unique way of perceiving the "world". So his intelligent curiosity, ever multifarious and passionate, came very much into play in his work as a fashion designer.

Gianfranco Ferré, 1996Gianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano

Merging together in this process of diligent and thoughtful scrutiny are sense of pathos, thirst for knowledge, quest and need for the widest possible of horizons, yet also deep awareness of the world at large and the certitude that the comparative analysis among different ways of living and thinking is a factor of enrichment in every sphere of human endeavor.

Gianfranco Ferré, 1993Gianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano

For Ferré, East and West are not antipodes of an ideal panorama where fashion can fit in as some new ephemeral trend.
His concept of creativity involves the sense of freedom that travel provides through encountering, experiencing and exploring other dimensions and universes. His artistic eye generates acts of creation, evolves into new aesthetic hypothesis, all within the context of a concrete design methodology.

"Journey along impressions of West and East that cannot be taken here as realities... rather it is the possibility of a difference, of a mutation, of a revolution in the propriety of symbolic systems".

("Empire of Signs", Roland Barthes)

Picture collageGianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano

Bearing in mind the designer’s attitude toward travel, ever an indispensable form of sustenance in the development of his style, the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation has put together an exploratory narrative that sets out from images of the most enticing creations inspired by distant lands and cultures for which he had a true affinity.
Collectively, the photographs spark metaphorical comparisons among various elements: the creative matrix behind Ferré’s designs, the anthropo-geography of traditional costumes and textiles, examples of architectural works, artistic expressions, as well as many other relevant historical, cultural, religious and even everyday aspects of life elsewhere in the world.
This narrative at once interprets and ennobles Gianfranco Ferré’s love of the travel experience and of traveling fancifully with heart, mind and soul, all in an uncommon balance between reason and emotion, between design project and pure poetry.

World flagsGianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano

The narrative will travel across:
India complete with colors of spices, traditional textiles and garments, the otherworld beauty of temples, the splendor of maharajas and maharanis.
China, with imperial Ming and Qing dynasty cloaks, mythical dragon symbol, fabulous patterns in red and gold, the lacquers, enamels and ceramics...
Japan, with samurai uniforms, ritual kimonos, feudal architecture, Utamaro paintings, Hokusai prints...
... and then South America, Africa, the Mediterranean, Mitteleurope...

Gianfranco Ferré, 1996Gianfranco Ferré Research Center, Politecnico di Milano

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.

Publications:
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.

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