Gianfranco Ferré was a groundbreaking Italian fashion designer born in Legnano near Milan on August 15, 1944. He went to high school in Legnano and graduated at the Politecnico di Milano University with a degree in architecture, which years later gave him the nickname “the architect of fashion”. His first job was in the design studio of a furniture company. He loved to travel and when he made some special designed chains for a girl friend that were noticed by the owners of a boutique in Portofino, he found himself designing accessories for them.
In 1972 he went to work for a manufacturer of raincoats in Genoa which permitted him to travel all over the world, fueling his passions, design and travel. In 1974 he founded his own company Baila and 4 years later he launched the first collection of pret-a-porté (ready-to-wear) for women, which was followed the same year by a more sporty line, Oaks by Ferré, and subsequently his first man’s collection was released in 1982.
His first high fashion couture, rich and luxurious, designed all by himself was presented with great success in Rome in 1986 and was received with enthusiasm by press and buyers. Not surprisingly, when the French House of Dior launched a search for a stylistic director to replace Marc Bohan, the choice eventually fell on Ferré. The announcement was made in May of 1989. Many insiders of the fashion world were shocked that the prestigious French House of Dior had decided to put their future collections in the hands of an Italian, but Ferré was a happy solution and he was immediately awarded with the prestigious “Golden Needle.” He has managed to capture the traditional Dior spirit and interpret it in a modern, fresh manner, while retaining the elegance and attention to details that defines high fashion.
Gianfranco Ferré’s clothing had and still has a distinctive look, with simple lines making a strong, bold statement, looking especially good on tall and intellectual woman. The important dressmaker’s white blouse with original touches soon became a Ferré trademark. Ferre’s first perfume for women appeared in 1984, followed by the men’s fragrance in 1986.
Ferré’s clothes are especially popular among American women looking for an elegant, sophisticated alternative to the cookie-cutter look of “power dressing.” In fact the main market for his fashion were and are the United States holding a large part of the 80% export sales, followed by the italian market with 20%. Ferré’s suits and pants suits and distinctive accessories were snapped up by executives. For the evening Ferré brought the important ball gown back, designed to make a grand entrance, with important skirts supported by layers of crinolines.
Looking at the business side, we can state that the Gianfranco Ferré S.p.A. company with its different branches and divisons, like GF Ferrè, Ferré Milano, Gianfranco Ferré main line, Gianfranco Ferrè fragrances and many more, grosses more than 800 million dollars a year. Worldwide there are more than 250 sales points and 17 exclusive boutiques and recently investments in the luxury real estate have been made in collaboration with Dubai-based GIO Developments.
His favourite top model was Eva Riccobono, who reflected the perfect body language and ideal attitude for his fashion design vision.
Ferré had a great passion for travel in his free time, but he also enjoyed relaxing at his lakeside house at the beautiful Lake Maggiore not far from Milan.
Gianfranco Ferré died on July 17, 2007 in Milano after suffering from a brain haemorrhage.