Showing posts with label Giorgio Armani. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Giorgio Armani. Show all posts

25 September 2018

Nino Cerruti - fashion designer

Turn of fate led to a life in haute couture 

Nino Cerruti ran the family business for more than 50 years
Nino Cerruti ran the family business
for more than 50 years
The fashion designer Nino Cerruti, who used the family textile business as the platform on which to build one of the most famous names in haute couture, was born on this day in 1930 in Biella in northern Piedmont.

At its peak, the Cerruti became synonymous with Hollywood glitz and the movie industry, both as the favourite label of many top stars and the supplier of clothing ranges for a string of box office hits

Yet Cerruti might have lived a very different life had fate not intervened. Although Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti - the textile mills set up by his grandfather, Antonio, and his great uncles, Stefano and Quintino - had been the family firm since 1881, Nino wanted to be a journalist.

But when his father, Silvio, who had taken over the running of the business from Antonio, died prematurely, Nino was almost obligated to take over, even though he was only 20 years old.

However, despite the sacrifice of his ambitions and his studies, Cerruti threw himself into developing the business. He saw the potential in repositioning Cerruti as a fashion label and invested in a modernisation plan for the family weaving workshops in Biella as wells as acquiring two further factories in Milan.

Giorgio Armani learned his trade working for Cerruti
Giorgio Armani learned his trade
working for Cerruti
He launched his first men’s collection, which he called Hitman,  in 1957, the range putting him at the cutting edge of modern design.  Giorgio Armani, still to launch his own fashion range, worked for Cerruti on the Hitman collection between 1964 and 1970.

Cerruti as a high-end name was born in 1967, when Nino opened a boutique in Paris and launched the Cerruti 1881 fashion house.  His arrival in Paris was greeted as a sea change in men’s couture, one newspaper article speaking of “the year in which Italian style dethroned English fashion.”

Again, men’s clothing was his speciality, although by 1976 he had designed his first ready-to-wear women’s wear line.

The house launched Nino Cerruti pour Homme in 1978, marking the first of a long line of fragrances and Cerruti 1881 Sport launched in 1980, making clothes for tennis, skiing and running with an haute couture style.

It was in the 1980s that Cerruti became inextricably linked with Hollywood and the movie business.

After being heavily involved with dressing Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas in Miami Vice, the company provided clothing for films including Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Wall Street (1987), Pretty Woman (1990) and Basic Instinct (1992).

Cerruti still works even in his 80s
Cerruti still works even in his 80s
The decade also saw the company start to dress cinema stars including Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Sharon Stone, Julia Roberts, Robert Redford, Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford.

In October 2000, Nino Cerruti sold 51 per cent of the company to investors, who less than a year later bought the remainder of the company.  Cerruti, by then 71 years old, stepped down in rather unfortunate circumstances, citing a “perpetual conflict of interest", although he is on good enough terms with the latest owners of the brand to attend every Cerruti fashion show, with a seat on the front row.

The Spring Summer 2002 collection, however, was the last he designed himself.

Since his departure, he has concentrated on the original family textile mill business in Biella, which still operates as Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti and now owns the Italian furniture design company Baleri. He remains involved even at the age of 88.

A view of Biella, the town where Cerruti was born, which lies in the foothills of the Piedmontese Alps
A view of Biella, the town where Cerruti was born, which
lies in the foothills of the Piedmontese Alps
Travel tip:

Biella is a well-established town of almost 45,000 inhabitants in the foothill of the Alps, about 85km (53 miles) northeast of Turin and slightly more than 100m (62 miles) west of Milan. Its attractions include a Roman baptistery from early 1000s and the church and convent of San Sebastian. Wool and textiles have been associated with the town since the 13th century and although the best years of the industry have now passed, with many mills and factories closed, in addition to Cerruti, brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Vitale Barberis Canonico and Fila still have a presence.

The Via Monte Napoleone is Milan's most famous street for big-name fashion houses
The Via Monte Napoleone is Milan's most famous
street for big-name fashion houses
Travel tip:

Milan’s fashion district is known as the Quadrilatero della Moda, sometimes the Quad d’Oro. It can be found a 10-minute walk away from the Duomo in the centre of the city. The area centres on Via Monte Napoleone, a long street is lined with designer fashion boutiques, antiques shops and neoclassical mansions. Most of the major fashion houses - such as Armani, Gucci, Hermès, La Perla, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Ralph Lauren and Versace - Nearby, the Palazzo Morando museum displays period costumes.

More reading:

The hotel lift boy who became a giant of the fashion world

Salvatore Ferragamo - shoemaker to the stars

Ottavio Missoni - war prisoner, Olympic athlete, fashion king

Also on this day:

1773: The birth of Agostino Bassi, the scientist who rescued Italy's silk industry

1955: The birth of singer-songwriter Zucchero


15 August 2016

Gianfranco Ferré - fashion designer

Sought to create clothes for real women 

The Italian fashion designer Gianfranco Ferré
Gianfranco Ferré
Gianfranco Ferré, who became one of the biggest names in Italian fashion during the 1980s and 1990s, was born on this day in 1944 in Legnano, a town in Lombardy north-west of Milan, between the city and Lake Maggiore, where in adult life he made his home.

Ferré was regarded as groundbreaking in fashion design in the same way as Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent in that his clothes were created with real people rather than catwalk models in mind, yet without compromise in terms of aesthetic appeal.

At the peak of his popularity, his clients included Sharon Stone, Elizabeth Taylor, the Queen of Jordan, Paloma Picasso, Sophia Loren and the late Diana, Princess of Wales. 

Ferré first trained to be an architect, placing emphasis on the structure of his garments in which strong seams were often a prominent feature. He was once dubbed the Frank Lloyd Wright of fashion, which was taken to be a reference to the powerful horizontals in his designs.  His staff addressed him as "the architect".

He was also well known for inevitably including variations of white dress shirts in his collections, adorned with theatrical cuffs or multiple collars.  At one point, Ferré blouses were an essential in the wardrobe of high-flying career women.

Ferré won the Italian fashion industry's 'Oscar' - the Occhio D'Oro Award - six times and became the first designer from outside France to be made artistic director of Christian Dior in Paris, for whom he worked between 1989 and 1997.

From high school in Legnano, Ferré moved to the Politecnico di Milano University, where he graduated with a degree in architecture.  His first job was in the design studio of a furniture company but amused himself by designing accessories for a girl friend that were noticed by the owners of a boutique in Portofino, who asked him to design for them.

The Basilica of San Magno in Legnano, where the funeral of Gianfranco Ferré took place in 2007
The Basilica of San Magno in Legnano, where the funeral
of Gianfranco Ferré took place in 2007
After a period working for a rainwear company, he founded his own company, Baila, in 1974, and four years later in 1978 founded his own fashion house in the Brera district of Milan with his friend and business partner, Franco Mattioli.  He launched his first collection of pret-a-portér (ready-to-wear) clothing for women, which was followed the same year by a more sporty line, Oaks by Ferré. His first man's collection was released in 1982 and added a perfume range in 1984.

On leaving Dior, he returned to full-time to working on the Ferré clothing and accessory lines, which by now had substantial export sales in the United States.  But he and Mattioli fell out over the direction of the company and in 2000 they sold 90 per cent of Gianfranco Ferré SpA, although Ferré stayed on as creative director. 

Ferré died in 2007 at the age of 62, a few days after being admitted to hospital in Milan, having suffered a massive brain hemorrhage.  A big, bear-like figure, nonetheless always beautifully dressed in one of his trademark three-piece suits, he had always struggled to control his weight and had had at least one stroke previously. 

He was buried in his home town of Legnano after a funeral attended by giants of the fashion world, including Giorgio Armani, Valentino Garavani and Donatella Versace.

Travel tip:

Legnano is famous for being the only town, apart from Rome, to which reference is made in the Italian national anthem, thanks to the historic Battle of Legnano, in which the Lombard League inflicted a heavy defeat on the forces of Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in 1176.  Almost 700 years later, Garibaldi referred to the battle as an inspiration in the struggle for unification of Italy.  The 16th century Basilica of San Magno, where Gianfranco Ferré's funeral took place, is the town's most important building.

Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore
Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore
Travel tip:

Lake Maggiore is the largest lake in Italy at some 34 miles (64km) long, its most northerly extremity extending into Switzerland.  While the upper end is of alpine character, the lake in general enjoys a mild climate all year round and is famous for the greenery of its surrounding terrain and for its gardens, many growing rare and exotic plants, in particular those located on the Borromean Islands and Isola Bella.

(Photo of Basilica of San Magno by Heimdall CC BY-SA 2.5)
(Photo of Isola Bella by MbDortmund GFDL 1.2)

11 July 2016

Giorgio Armani – designer

Former army medic forged brilliant career in fashion

Fashion designer Giorgio Armani, who is 82 today
Giorgio Armani
Giorgio Armani, who is considered by many to be Italy's greatest fashion designer, was born on this day in 1934 in Piacenza in Emilia-Romagna.

Known for his menswear and the clean, tailored lines of his collections for women, Armani, who celebrates his 82nd birthday today, has become a multi-billionaire.

His original career plan was to become a doctor and he enrolled in the Department of Medicine at the University of Milan but after three years left to join the army. Due to his medical background he was assigned to the military hospital in Verona.

After he left the army, Armani decided to have a complete career change and got a job as a window dresser for La Rinascente, a Milan department store.

He progressed to become a sales assistant in the menswear department and then moved on to work for Nino Cerruti as a menswear designer.

In 1973 Armani opened a design office in Milan from where he worked as a freelance designer for fashion houses. He founded his own company, Giorgio Armani, in Milan in 1975.

La Rinascente in Milan, with its rooftop garden, as seen from the roof of the neighbouring Duomo
La Rinascente in Milan, with its rooftop garden,
as seen from the roof of the neighbouring Duomo
He began producing designs specifically for the United States and his label soon became one of the leading names in international fashion. He also designed costumes for the film industry and suits for many sports teams, including the England football team.

Armani has built up a network of hundreds of boutiques and stores across nearly 40 countries.

He was also the first designer to ban models who had a BMI of less than 18, following the death of a model from anorexia.

Travel tip:

La Rinascente in Milan, where Giorgio Armani once worked, is right in the centre of the city in Piazza Duomo, close to the entrance to the Duomo metro stop. The store, which sells clothes and cosmetics as well as house wares, was nominated the Best Department Store in the World at a Global Department Store Summit in 2016.

Milan's Via Montenapoleone, home of the original Armani store
Milan's Via Montenapoleone
Travel tip:

The original Giorgio Armani store in Milan is in Via Montenapoleone in the centre of the city. It reopened in April 2015 after Armani and his team of architects had completely redesigned the store to bring out the original architecture of the building. This was part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the company.

(Photo of Giorgio Armani by GianAngelo Pistoia CC BY-SA 3.0)
(Photo of Via Montenapoleone by Geobia CC BY-SA 4.0)

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