The late Fernanda Gattinoni was celebrated by Hollywood stars of the 1950s and 1960s for creating strikingly elegant designs worn both on and off the silver screen.
The Lombardy-born designer Fernanda Gattinoni left for London at the age of 17 to master her beloved trade at the house of Molyneaux. During this time it was widely rumored that Gattinoni had rejected an opportunity to work along side the legendary Coco Chanel in Paris, preferring to return home, instead.
Through her work with European royals and the flourishing film scene of Fellini-era Italy, Fernanda Gattinoni inaugurated her namesake atelier in 1945. Gattinoni sought to abandon the austerity that plagued wartime fashion, re-introducing the polish and perfection of ladylike dressing with such silhouettes as the empire waist. Gattinoni was favored by such fashion pioneers as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Ingrid Bergman, Eva Perón, Gina Lollobrigida and Audrey Hepburn, for whom she designed her Oscar-winning costumes of the 1956 film War and Peace.
In the mid-eighties, Fernanda’s son, Raniero Gattinoni, had taken the reigns as designer of the Italian fashion label. Wanting to catapult his mother’s house to even further recognition, Raniero Gattinoni launched the first ready-to-wear collection. After his sudden passing in 1993, creative direction was handed down to Guillermo Mattiolo.
Under Mattiolo, considered “a bit of an Italian Alexander McQueen, Hubert Givenchy and Nicholas Ghesquiere rolled into one,” the Gattinoni fashion house has become synonymous with statement-stirring styles that exuberantly dance between the controversial and political and the refined and demure. Mattiolo’s designs vary from $500,000 diamond-dripped denim to a collection painted in imagery inspired by Picasso's Guernica. The looks may seem eccentric and fantastical, but they are more than just that: they are a demonstration in the exquisite workmanship that is very much in accordance with Gattinoni’s own couture craft.
His shows are daringly avant-garde (in recent years he has paraded pregnant brides and hired a fresh-faced Monica Lewinsky as well as ‘60s style icon, Twiggy, to walk his runway) and have animated the Roman fashion scene.
Years after Fernanda Gattinoni’s death in 2002, the courtier was commemorated at the Italian Cultural Center of Paris, where some of her most famed designs were exhibited. While Gattinoni’s label may now be in the hands of Mattiolo’s dramatic creativity, the designer has indubitably re-envisaged the unparalleled elegance that brought Gattinoni its initial fame.