Posted on November 15 2018
Gianfranco Ferré was a multi-talented man with many nicknames, and for good reason. He was a rare species with a logical point of view towards creativity who was also rational, balanced, calm, and happy- basically a unicorn in the fashion industry. Known as L'architetto, or "The Architect," Ferré initially entered fashion by way of architecture. His years of architecture study at Milan's Polytechnic University defined his approach towards fashion, design, and construction. What started out as a few gifts for friends while in school turned into a side hustle when he was scouted for his jewelry and accessory creations, which immediately attracted the attention of buyers and magazine editors, eventually resulting in a successful career. Ferré went on to create multiple branches of his own namesake lines, become the "King of the White Shirt," and completed a lauded tenure at the house of Dior.
Gianfranco Ferré's studied background in architecture was seen through his thoughtful designs, clearly visible through intricate construction details and seaming, meticulous fabric and material selections, and his observance of the form and function of the human body. Consistency was one of his strengths, and here we examine some of the telltale signatures of our fave five Ferré creations, and how he became the Frank Lloyd Wright of fashion.
Gianfranco Ferré's career began with jewelry and accessories, though they were eventually overshadowed by his showstopping gowns and runway creations. This asymmetrical crystal beaded fringed skirt by Ferré displays his deft skill at translating his inspirations and thoughts into wearable pieces. Whether around the neck, on the fingers, or wrapped at the waist, jewelry is a form of adornment, and this skirt does just that. Ferré intelligently questions the distinction between clothing and accessories, when they both embellish and emphasize the beauty of the body beneath. Ferré's inspiration drawn from India's beading and embellishment techniques is also apparent in this encrusted piece; both sophisticated and loud, blinding and austere, it's full of Ferré's contradictions.
Early years spent in India to absorb design inspiration and new techniques fostered Ferré's love for the country and its colorful culture. This mixed-media brocade tiger sleeve top by Ferré features clean, sophisticated lines in a combination of fabrics and textures inspired by his many travels throughout the region and surrounds. A romantic blend that marries the simple lines of the saree blouse, intricate Indian embroidery, and tiger-inspired Tibetan robes all combine to form a wearable top that be dressed in celebratory fashion, or paired with jeans for the modern woman.
This allover sequined skirt by Ferré is an exercise in contradictions. The straight silhouette features a defined border at the seam that is reminiscent of an Indian saree skirt. An austere, simple, straight silhouette is then tastefully covered in sequins, from edge-to-edge. Ferré's use of various sizes of sequins, and main use of the tiny, extra-small sized discs keeps the whole combination balanced, maintaining movement, comfort, and a level of sophistication not usually found on sequined garments. We love this piece for its opulent simplicity and lavish ease. He understood how to achieve a harmony that echos his studied observations and experience of human nature.
These three pieces embody Ferré's fashion philosophy: a well-thought out skirt, wrap, and top that are both well-constructed yet free, ornate and austere, and a variation of the 3-piece suits that made his signature style. In a colorful east-meets-west baroque print, each piece is timelessly designed for a powerful woman with personality. A structured, classic pencil skirt is transformed in the allover print, and the matching quilted wrap shawl is given details from the home, borrowing from regally printed drapes, throws, and wallpaper. The two can be styled like a saree and pallu, or any number of ways. The coordinating top has all of the coziness of a knit sweater, yet features structured details such as a full zipper. We love the many parts to this style of dressing, but also love the idea of wrapping ourselves in a silk throw and calling it a day.
Gianfranco Ferré was a master of the blouse, known as the King of the White Shirt. He was fascinated with all of the different shapes and moods he could create within the parameters of the shirt, and consistently created variations on the shirt body. He frequently like to focus the drama on sleeves and cuffs, creating a Ferré signature style in voluminous organza, but was never afraid to change it up. Ferré brought his shirt stylings to Dior while artistic director from 1989 to 1997, leaving his mark on the house where he made history as the first foreigner to hold the position. Given only 9 weeks for his first collection, he diligently studied the archives and got to work, winning France's prestigious Golden Thimble Award after its release. Of the collection, Vogue commented, it was "A matter of Dior discipline and Ferré flourish." This sheer dotted organza blouse by Gianfranco Ferré for Christian Dior is perfect representation of Ferré's interpretation of Dior's aesthetic, seamlessly blended with his own signature blouse.