GIANFRANCO FERRÉ FOUNDATION

The Gianfranco Ferré Foundation was established with the goal of promoting, pursuing and carrying out projects that relate to the Gianfranco Ferré.

Gianfranco Ferre Foundation Headquarters Milan

Index

  1. The Objective
  2. The Headquarters
  3. Exhibitions
    1. “La camicia bianca secondo me” – Museo del Tessuto, Prato
    2. “La camicia bianca secondo me. Gianfranco Ferré” – Palazzo Reale, Sala delle Cariatidi, Milano
    3. “The white shirt according to me. Gianfranco Ferré” – Phoenix Art Museum, Steele Gallery
    4. “Gianfranco Ferre’ Designs” – Phoenix Art Museum, Ellman Gallery
    5. “Gianfranco Ferré e Maria Luigia: Inattese assonanze” – Palazzo del Governatore, Parma
    6. “Gianfranco Ferré. Moda, un racconto nei disegni” – Centro Culturale Santa Maria della Pietà, Cremona
    7. “Gianfranco Ferré. Sotto un’altra luce: Gioielli e Ornamenti” – Palazzo Madama, Sala del Senato, Torino
  4. Publications
    1. Lessons of Fashion
    2. Drawings
    3. White Shirt
    4. Jewels

The Objective

The Gianfranco Ferré Foundation was established in February 2008 with the aim of preserving, organizing and making available to the public – first and foremost in digital archive form – the patrimony of materials that document the designer’s professional activity. It also has the goal of promoting, pursuing and carrying out projects that relate to the Gianfranco Ferré philosophy and culture of design, to the maestro’s unique idea of fashion and exquisite aesthetic sensitivity.

The Foundation’s first objective is the creation of an archive/museum that houses everything saved and kept during the span of Gianfranco Ferré’s career. This task entails making an inventory of many different types of materials: photographs, sketches and drawings, film and video footage, press reviews, magazines, press releases, as well as the architect-designer’s own writings (talks, lectures, notes). All then go into the databank for easy access both on site and via web.

The database, which is continually being updated and added to, presently contains more than 80,000 items. They are organized on the basis of a straightforward and capillary system, specifically in terms of both subject matter and chronological.

The creation of an archive of this nature offers people from various domains of life the chance to examine and experience Gianfranco Ferré’s fashion work in an effective and hands-on way. Students, scholars, professionals – anyone with a concrete connection to and/or interest in the fields of modern fashion and pure design – may want to take advantage of this valuable opportunity.

The existence of a similar archive facilitates a wide range of initiatives: publication of books on specific subjetcs, organization of exhibitions, educational activities for young people, promotion of in-depth study programs in cooperation with universities and other educational institutions, hosting of talks, on-site visits, as well as participation in conferences or events and meetings focused on topics connected to Gianfranco Ferré’s work and/or, more in general, to contemporary fashion and aesthetics.

The Foundation is responsible for the care and management of the vestimentary archive, which includes about 3,000 pieces of clothing and accessories from the Gianfranco Ferré Women’s, Men’s and Haute Couture’s collections.

The Gianfranco Ferré Foundation Headquarters

Fondazione Gianfranco Ferré Headquarters
Fondazione Gianfranco Ferré Headquarters

Sunlight streaming through floor-to-ceiling windows: this may be what strikes us most upon entering the headquarters of the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation located at the “Tortona 37” complex in the heart of Milan’s new fashion and design district.

The 600-sqm split-level office features a ground floor plus two ample intermediate ones where all in all a primarily rational use of space meets a distinct sense of elegance and refinement. Centering on the idea of multi functionality, the headquarters are divided in work and archive areas, as well as in conference and lecture rooms able to accommodate the exhibition of clothes and accessories.

There are also workstations where the general public may access (both hands-on and by computer) the Foundation’s remarkable patrimony of drawings, photographs, videos, texts – complete with vast library containing decades of major fashion, design and lifestyle magazines from around the globe.

The configuration and aesthetic definition of the headquarters award the Foundation a genuine Ferré feel. This comes through in various aspects, from the clean and clearly architectonic volumes, impressively high ceilings, all the way to the specific chromatic attributes: floors made from matte black resin, white walls offset by lacquer red parts, surfaces lined with sheet iron. As for the actual furnishings, they include large bookcases in white lacquered wood framed by durmast oak support elements, plus tables and capacious chests of drawers in bronzetone metal with black frosted glass top.

The interior décor is the work of Architect Franco Raggi, university classmate and close friend of Gianfranco Ferré. He is the same architect who cooperated with Ferré in designing other of the fashion maestro’s offices, the headquarters on Via Pontaccio in particular.

Many other things infuse the place with the Gianfranco Ferré style and above all with the designer’s rich and complex personality. First and foremost, the pieces he designed himself: the big sheet iron table from his private office, the chaise longue in brown ponyskin, the Biedermeier armchairs with lacquered lizard upholstery…

Reminders of Gianfranco Ferré are everywhere at the Foundation. There are the creations from his many collections, the souvenirs from his global travels, the gifts from friends and assistants well aware of his love of collecting. Examples? The magnificent Chinese brazier-vase in embossed bronze; the Japanese Kendo armor set; a curious nautical meter stick; Grégory Morizeau’s and Fabius Tita’s singular bird figures in recycled industrial materials; the easel with Ferré ever since his early days on Via Conservatorio. Not to mention all the minor/major objects studding and making special the designer’s diverse work and home surroundings: hats and helmets from all periods of history and corners of the globe, bracelets (some authentic pieces of sculpture), works of art by personal friends and artists (among others, the pinewood “profile” by Ceroli). And then contemporary design items such as the art work by Urano Palma and the chairs, from the “Harp Chair” by Jorgen Hovelskow to the ones by Tom Dixon and Ron Arad until Franco Raggi’s own signature “Metamorfosi 3” chaise longue.

“Tortona 37” – where the Ferré Foundation headquarters are located – is a mixed-use architectural complex designed by Matteo Thun. It consists of five buildings arranged around a garden-courtyard with trees in the center. The project is part of a major low-environmental impact urban revitalization process featuring the use of energy-saving technologies (geothermal air conditioning, radiant panel heating) and the accurate definition of the exterior walls.

Interior design Franco Raggi, with the collaboration of Karim Contarino

Lighting: XAL. Xenon Architectural Lighting

Systems furniture ZEUS

Treated metal surfaces AMIMETAL

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Exhibitions

February 1, 2014 – June 15, 2014: “La camicia bianca secondo me” – Museo del Tessuto, Prato

“The White Shirt According To Me. Gianfranco Ferré” exhibition was devoted to one of the great fashion talents of the modern age. Ideated to focus attention on the designer’s exquisite sartorial poetics, this exhibition co-organized by the Prato Textile Museum Foundation and the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation and curated by Daniela Degl’Innocenti guides the visitor on a unique journey of discovery. Point of arrival: a deep understanding of the white shirt, true paradigm of the Ferré style, thanks to an itinerary that on multiple levels highlights a vision remarkably rich in innovative design elements and enthralling creative interpretations.

A constant presence throughout his career, the white shirt became for the designer in the “lexicon of contemporary elegance” a supreme “hallmark” of his style.

Aiming to give force to the figurative languages intrinsic to Ferré’s imaginative rethinking of the shirt, the exhibition plays evocatively with an impressive array of corollary materials: sketches and drawings, technical details, photographs, advertising and editorial images, videos and installations.

The itinerary begins with a system of hanging fabric screens across which flash giant reproductions of autographed Ferré fashion drawings. All perfect expressions of his creative vision, they serve to introduce the visitor to the universe immanent to every distinct design project.

The initial room reveals principles of construction and novel architectural elements through large photographic installations (unprecedented x-ray simulations) that offer a fascinating poetic/tech slant on a selection of shirts, reasserting for each the structural shape and material substance by heightening the impact of layers and textures.

The airy lightness of this immensely engaging language derives from technical research conducted jointly with the Workshop of Semi-Precious Stones in Florence and then brought to fruition by Florentine photographer Leonardo Salvini. Here it marks the first time a similar photographic expressiveness adds interpretative depth to a fashion exhibition.

Next comes the fulcrum of the exhibition. There they are, in the center of the main room: twenty-seven white shirts, a stunning sequence of sartorial masterpieces, bearing silent witness to twenty years of absolutely ingenious and peerless creativity.

In chronological order, the shirts are keenly swathed in light so that they may assume varying tones of brilliant whiteness and find in shadow areas the ideal counterpoint for capturing a plastic effect. Sculpture style.

Taffeta, crepe de chine, organza, satin, tulle, cottons and silks, mechanical embroidery and lace, hand stitching, components macro and micro interact in a magnificent crescendo of virtuosity and equilibrium.

Accompanying the shirts are many pertinent materials on loan from the Ferré Foundation Archive. Arranged along the sides of the room, they include technical drawings, catwalk exit sketches, advertising and editorial images, shots by world-class photographers. The original drawings are particularly interesting, for they illustrate the designer’s amazing ability to define the primogenital idea behind each creation – silhouettes, volumes, details, fabric weights and textures – in a few sharp lines. Quick, sure, succinct. Flawless.

In the final part of the exhibition a captivating presentation of video footage from the most important fashion shows (1978 to 2007) makes the shirts on display come alive. Namely, in the studied gestures and elegant motions of the runway models the shirts embody once again the pure sensibility, elegance and refinement emblematic of Gianfranco Ferré’s poetic universe.

The exhibition catalog, a Skira publication under the masterly art direction of Luca Stoppini, so entailing an inventive use of fresh shots of the shirts, is an outstanding book that opens with greetings from Andrea Cavicchi and Alberto Ferré, respective presidents of the two Foundations.

Immediately following is an explanation of the motivations behind the exhibition, written by Filippo Guarini and Rita Airaghi. Subsequently the catalog discusses the exhibition’s themes through both an introductory essay by Daniela Degl’Innocenti and a series of articles where major figures from the realms of style, architecture and design, Quirino Conti, Anna Maria Castro, Margherita Palli, Daniela Puppa, Franco Raggi, talk in depth about the creative vision of the great architect of Italian fashion. Alessandra Arezzi Boza’s thoughts on the meaning of heritage in Ferré Foundation activities, plus some words on the Prato Textile Museum and its history, conclude the book.

From February to June “The White Shirt According To Me. Gianfranco Ferré” will also feature an exciting calendar of exhibition-inspired events and collateral activities, as well as didactic programs expressly for fashion students and/or for students from schools in the spheres of design, architecture and applied arts.

Students will have the opportunity to explore the exhibition contents thanks also to special multimedia tools and to workshops on Ferré’s extraordinary design vision and methodology. The latter will involve a profound analysis of key elements of his style.

In addition to all types of practical info and exhaustive press kits, detailed information on these various events, activities and programs will be available at ferre.museodeltessuto.it, official website for the exhibition complete with dedicated social network links.

March 10, 2015 – April 4, 2015: “La camicia bianca secondo me. Gianfranco Ferré” – Palazzo Reale, Sala delle Cariatidi, Milano 

“Talking about my white blouse is all too easy. It’s all too easy to declare a love that  covers the span of my creative path. A hallmark – perhaps the ultimate signature – of my style,  which enfolds a constant pursuit of innovation and a no less unfailing love of tradition.

A combination of tradition and innovation is what originally triggered the Ferré white shirt, set the story in motion. Tradition in the form of the men’s shirt, ever-present and encoded element of the wardrobe. Which tickled my fancy for invention, incited my propensity for rethinking the tenets of elegance and style in an interplay of pure fantasy and contemporary design. Read with sense of glamour and poetry, freedom and energy, the formal and quasi-immutable white shirt took on an infinity of identities, a multiplicity of inflections. To the point of becoming, I believe, a must of modern-day femininity…

In the lexicon of contemporary elegance, I like to think that the white blouse is a universal term every woman can ‘pronounce’ the way she prefers…”

This process always entails a keen rethinking of shapes. The white blouse is never the same yet always unmistakable. It may be light and floaty, flawlessly severe (if the mannish cut remains), as sumptuously enveloping as a cloud, as skinny and snug as a bodysuit. Some parts, primarily collar and cuffs, can become emphatic; others expressly lose ‘force’ and may even disppear (back, shoulders, sleeves). It billows delicately with every motion, almost free of gravity.

It frames the face like a fabulous corolla. It sculpts the body in a slick second-skin mode. It is the eclectic interpreter of all types of materials: sheer organza, crisp taffeta, glossy satin, duchesse, poplin, chiffon, georgette, too…” – From the notes of Gianfranco Ferré

The exhibition, promoted by the City of Milan, Department for Work Policy, Fashion and Design and Department for Culture, is organized and produced by Palazzo Reale and the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation jointly with the Prato Textile Museum. It is edited by Daniela Degl’Innocenti and devoted to the talent of one of the most illustrious names of the international fashion of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

“The exhibition is a tribute of the city to a great player of the Italian fashion and his unique style, which has always been far away from excesses, connecting creativity to precise and firm references in forms, materials and colors”, so the Councillor for Work Policy, Fashion and Design, Cristina Tajani, who continues: “An exhibition useful especially to the many young people who are taking their first steps in the fashion world and can learn a real lesson in style and creativity in order to continue the great tradition of the Made in Italy”.

“Hosting this exhibition, Milan pays tribute to one of the symbol designers of the Italian and Milanese fashion: Gianfranco Ferré”, declares the Culture Councillor Filippo Del Corno, who underlines: “In the gorgeous Sala delle Cariatidi of the Palazzo Reale, the exhibition with a plenty of preparatory drawings, sketches, photographs, sartorial looks is focused on the white shirt, a proper icon of the Ferré’s style. An exhibition devoted to a great master of fashion, who right in Milan has developed the creativity and talent that made his style famous throughout the world”.

Conceived to showcase the creative and sartorial poetics of Gianfranco Ferré’s work, the exhibition uses various art forms to guide the visitor on a discovery of the white shirt – authentic paradigm of his style – highlighting the most innovative design elements and deeply fascinating interpretations. A constant presence and major theme throughout Ferré’s career, the white shirt became for the designer a “hallmark of my style” and a “contemporary lexicon of elegance”.

The shirt is element of continuity and item elected to an icon of style, design culture and creativity of Gianfranco Ferré, “architect of fashion” and undisputed protagonist of Made in Italy. On this garment the author focuses the aptitude to transform and innovate the language and aesthetics of fashion.

Aiming to give force to the different figurative languages inherent to Ferré’s work in examining, taking apart and rethinking the shirt, the exhibition itinerary at once plays with suggestions and the valorization of different elements, making the most of various materials as a corollary to the creations put stunningly on a manikin. They include drawings, technical details, sketches, photographs, advertising and editorial images and installations. The focus is on  twenty-seven shirts – an army of sartorial masterpieces that exemplify about twenty years of Ferré’s creative (Ready to Wear collections 1982-2006).

Setting the exhibition in motion is an initial passageway where giant images of Ferré’s autographed drawings are projected onto swathes of tulle. This enables the visitor to grasp instances of his remarkable creative vision while getting a first hint of the shirts on display.

The main section of the exhibition is in the great Sala delle Cariatidi, dominated by the shirts as sculptures bathed in light. The idea is to bring out the full beauty of the shades of white, the interplay of light and shadow, thereby attaining an evocative plastic effect. Taffeta, crêpe de chine, organza, satin, tulle, cottons and silks, mechanical embroidery, lace, hand stitching, macro and micro decors follow one another in a crescendo of pure mastery and counterpoise.

Along the sides of the hall various materials from the Ferré Foundation Archives are  displayed. The original drawings spark particular interest, for they illustrate the designer’s  amazing ability to synthesize all the elements intrinsic to creating every shirt – silhouettes,  volumes, detailing, fabric weight and texture – which he describes in his distinctive, elegant script.

On the ceiling there is a series of exquisitely oneiric images. They are photographic  projections (x ray simulations) which capture the shirts from an eloquenty technical  perspective, recreating each one’s structural and physical framework while clearly showing  layers and textures, yet above all imbuing the designs with a unique delicacy and a poetic lightness.

Completing the itinerary, the images shot by Luca Stoppini underscore again how a sense of levity and transparency are a key to understanding the whole project.

Published by Skira, a catalog under the artistic direction of Luca Stoppini, accompanies the  exhibition. The book explores diverse topics of relevance, starting with an introductory essay by Daniela Degl’Innocenti and then proceeding with thought-provoking contributions by prominent figures in the realms of Italian style, fashion and architecture. One by one, Quirino Conti, Anna Maria Stillo Castro, Margherita Palli, Daniela Puppa and Franco Raggi offer valuable insights into the creative vision of the great architect of fashion. A piece by Alessandra Arezzi Boza on the meaning of the heritage concept in the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation activities concludes the catalog.

November 4, 2015 – March 6, 2016: “The white shirt according to me. Gianfranco Ferré” – Phoenix Art Museum, Steele Gallery

“Ferré was part of a pivotal generation of Italian designers that included Gianni Versace and Giorgio Armani. Their designs solidified the importance of Italian fashion internationally during the late 1970s. We are excited to bring Ferre’s vision and history to the Valley directly from the archives in Milan.” – Dennita Sewell, Curator of Fashion Design, Phoenix Art Museum.

From next November 4 to March 6 2016 the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona, the most prestigious institution of the entire South West of the United States which celebrates its fifty anniversary of activity, will host in the Steel Gallery the exhibition dedicated to the Gianfranco Ferré’s iconic garment, conceived in cooperation with the Museo del Tessuto di Prato and already presented last March in Milan’s Palazzo Reale.

At the same time, a different area of the space, the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery, will be the setting for a story of the creative journey of Gianfranco Ferré : this exhibition brings together images and more than 100 sketches, both illustrative and technical along with examples of how the sketches are translated into three-dimensional garments, exposed on mannequins, from the Haute Couture and Ready to Wear collections.

November 4, 2015 – March 6, 2016:  Gianfranco Ferré Designs” – Phoenix Art Museum, Ellman Gallery

A companion exhibition, Gianfranco Ferré Designs, will also be on view in Phoenix Art Museum’s Ellman Fashion Design Gallery. This complementary exhibit features over 100 of Ferré’s illustration and photographs paired with 8 striking ensembles that exemplify Gianfranco Ferré’s iconic design style. Visitors will have the rare opportunity to explore a world renowned designer’s creative process from concept to sketch to finished product.

August 30, 2016 – January 15, 2017: “Gianfranco Ferré e Maria Luigia: Inattese assonanze” – Palazzo del Governatore, Parma

It is an honor that the Gianfranco Ferré style plays a starring role in a singularly important exhibition part of the bicentennial celebrations marking the arrival in Parma of Austrian archduchess Marie Louise of the House of Hapsburg-Lorraine, former Empress of the French who became the Duchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla. Gianfranco Ferré always had a deep appreciation for and interest in women of power: great women in history, from Maria Theresa of Austria to Catherine of Russia, from Elizabeth the Great to Christina of Sweden. Surely, the “Good Duchess” — as long ago her adoring subjects and now the ever-reverent citizens of Parma called/call her — enjoys a solid place among the female characters who so keenly sparked the designer’s fancy during his lifetime.

Nevertheless, it would be misleading to say that Marie Louise numbered specifically among the women who populated Gianfranco Ferré’s ideal landscape. His collections make continual reference to the fashions of past eras, therefore also to the Empire Style. But that in no way explains the presence of Ferré’s designs on display in Parma. The actual reasons and respective dynamics are of quite a different nature. In particular, they reflect the logic that the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation follows in managing the full scope of the designer’s creative legacy, starting with the magnificent fashions which in addition to attentive conservation and cultural diffusion are a constant object of study, research and interpretative scrutiny.

The analysis of this patrimony, multifaceted and heterogeneous as to both contents and inspirations/influences, enables the Foundation to deal with it according to a flexible, subtly  unfolding logic. Thanks to which it’s not impossible (on the contrary, proves very natural) to draw from what Ferré created ever new and different impressions able to surprise and often amaze even people who witnessed the birth, growth and development of the Ferré universe.

Along with the sensibilities we have acquired over the years, working every day with the clothes and relative documentary materials affords us the ability to keep discovering unexpected contents — or, more pertinently, unexpected ways of evaluating and valorizing them. They are contents which, not uncommonly, have lain hidden in the cracks of a fabulously rich aesthetic horizon where, by contrast, other more evident and immediate elements have predominated.

With this quietly in mind, the Foundation made every effort to divine assonances with the world of Marie Louise of Parma, her tastes and passions. They are assonances we enjoy defining unexpected. Also, a keen sense of analysis and a propensity for research enfold the distinct use of philological methodologies and the clear aspiration for unusual perspectives equally intrinsic to the message behind the Gianfranco Ferré style.

We are talking about a woman who grew up according to the strict yet substantially bourgeois principles of the royal court of Vienna, not at all taught how to govern a vast territory. All the same, the “Good Duchess” — more out of feminine pragmatism than due to political training — turned her duchy into a happy place during the darkest years of the Restoration period. An enlightened woman, she also took an interest in social matters, so introducing Parma and surrounding areas to a new era and to the world.

Essentially, this is another reason why the at once methodological and imaginative process of discovering in the designer’s collections probable liaisons with Marie Louise’s tastes and passions came easily to the Foundation.

We loved thinking of her as a contemporary figure. Better still, we loved discerning the virtual points of contact between her and the Gianfranco Ferré style. All very much in the spirit of today. – Rita Airagi, Director of the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation

About the exhibition:

The pure fashion genius of Gianfranco Ferré and the photographic artistry of Michel Comte identify, respectively, two exhibitions part of the bicentennial celebrations marking the arrival in Parma, of Marie Louise of the House of Hapsburg-Lorraine, Austrian archduchess who ruled as Empress of the French as the Duchess of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla.

“Ferre and Comte DETTAGLI. Two Great Fashion/Art Expressionists Delve Into Details” — a project ideated by Alberto Nodolini and produced by Ankamoki — will grace the halls of the first and second floors of Palazzo del Governatore in Parma from September 30, 2016 to January 15, 2017.

The first floor will host “Gianfranco Ferré and Marie Louise: Unexpected Assonances”, an exhibit curated by Gloria Bianchini and Alberto Nodolini in collaborations with the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation, while the second will exclusively feature Michel Comte’s installations in the “Neoclassic” show curated by Jens Remes in collaboration with Alberto Nodolini and Anna Tavani.

April 21, 2017 – June 18, 2017: “Gianfranco Ferré. Moda, un racconto nei disegni” – Centro Culturale Santa Maria della Pietà, Cremona

The why and wherefore of an exhibition on Gianfranco Ferré’s drawings 

“For me drawing means jotting down on paper a spontaneous idea which I can then analyze, check, verify and finetune,reducing the basics to precise concise lines set on diagonals and parallels within geometric shapes and figures… as both a fashion designer and an architect I see fashion as a form of design…” (Gianfranco Ferré)

Gianfranco Ferré takes his method from his study of architecture, an art which pivots on and ensues from drawing, finds in drawing its means for giving shape to ideas, substance to distinct insights, a way to “set impressions down concretely in sketch form”; as such, drawing becomes “necessity and passion all in one, both arrival point in the dimension of reality and starting point for a design project.”

Thus the exhibition on Ferré’s drawings aims to retrace an intellectual path, the evolution of an inner world built on study and research, cultural and design synthesis, so that it will continue to play the role of testament and mental stimulus. In this particular context, drawing emerges significantly as an expression of freedom and rigor, creativity and method, yet at the same time a work tool, an everyday exercise, a mode of thought and a concrete approach. Above all, a work method.

Gianfranco Ferré’s drawings encapsulate his entire inner universe, for all while promptly defining the compass points of the human body – shoulders, waist, legs – they also capture the designer’s interests, passions and personality. And this is clear even to people who know little or nothing about fashion.

His constant inventiveness develops into signs on paper, into stunning silhouettes that with a few quick lines in soft-tip pen evoke a dynamic figure, often fixed in place thanks to pencil marks, sparkles and gold glints (possibly using tin foil or glitter dust), or that create images of clothes as splotches of color, calligraphic entanglements, explosive lines, or as the synthesis of a highly textural detail. What’s so striking about Ferré is the utter precision of details even in the simplest of sketches. -Rita Airagi, Director Gianfranco Ferré Foundation

A return to origins, connecting with creativity 

Cremona is a magnificent city of music, violins and sound studies. But it is also hub of the territory from which the family of Gianfranco Ferré’s mother came. Now in a synergistic partnership with the municipal administration, the Foundation that bears the designer’s name plays the lead in a major return to roots that brings to the fore the strong affective bond Ferré always had with this corner of Lombardy.

It’s a return consisting of two parts: From April 21 to June 18, 2017, the exhibition “Gianfranco Ferré. Moda, un racconto nei disegni” (Gianfranco Ferré. Fashion, Drawings Tell the Story) presents more than a hundred autographed drawings by the designer. Arranged in groups on the basis of thematic and chromatic affinities, as well as a commonality of graphic elements, they take center stage at the extraordinary Santa Maria della Pietà Cultural Center in Piazza Giovanni XXIII – as ever, an important reference point in Italy for the display of graphic artworks (etchings, drawings, comics).

The exhibition also includes some of the designer’s fashion creations, which here become concrete transpositions in the form of shapes and volumes, materials and techniques, lace and embroidery of the design concepts and poetic impulses that Ferré expressed through his drawings.

On May 18th, in honor of Cremona and her celebrations for the 450th anniversary of the birth of Claudio Monteverdi, father of opera, a lecture on “Gianfranco Ferré. Moda, un racconto nella musica” (Gianfranco Ferré. Fashion, Music Tells the Story) will take place. All about the role soundtracks play during fashion shows, the lecture will focus on how – with the aid of outstanding sound designers – the designer succeeds in creating novel arrangements, bold mixes, surprising sounds of diverse origin. So spotlighting how music is a complementary component of the emotions sparked by clothes.

October 12, 2017 – February 19, 2018: “Gianfranco Ferré. Sotto un’altra luce: Gioielli e Ornamenti” – Palazzo Madama, Sala del Senato, Torino

From October 12, 2017, to February 19, 2018, the stately Hall of the Senate of Palazzo Madama in Turin will set the stage for the exhibition Gianfranco Ferré. Under Another Light: Jewels and Ornaments. Organized and produced jointly by the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation and the Turin Museums Foundation, the exhibition will present a world premiere of 200 jewel objects that cut across the entire creative narrative of the famous Italian fashion designer.

Ferré always had a passion for ornamentation – a passion inseparably linked to his fashion collections and significantly determined by an enthusiastic and often innovative approach never inferior to the one he took in designing clothes. As Francesca Alfano Miglietti, curator of the exhibition, underscores: “Ferré constructs a free zone within a personal realm of reference, elaborating every object in the wake of a system of general classification of concepts that become objects. And so we see lustrous stones, enameled metals, smooth shells, painted woods, Murano glasses, retro ceramics, Swarovski crystals, as well as wood and leather and iron and copper and bronze, follow one another along an enchanted horizon of pins, necklaces, belts, rings, bracelets, bangles. For Ferré the ornament is not the ‘lesser child’ of a precious jewel, but a concept of eternity that must represent the immanence of the present.”

The objects on display, created for fashion shows dating from 1980 to 2007, tell a story that is complementary to the clothing and relative accessories. Yet they are exhibited together with designs where it is precisely the jewel-material that invents and shapes the dress, becoming its substance and soul. In this case too, Gianfranco Ferré’s attention to materials is determinant, an essential part of his research.

The exhibition project – ideated by architect Franco Raggi – plays upon the contrast between the Hall of the Senate of Palazzo Madama, a place of immense architectural value, and the simple minimalist structures in iron and glass of the exhibition set-up. Thus highlighted is the imaginative beauty of the jewels designed by Ferré, which seem to soar in the semi-darkness.

Gianfranco Ferré’s “Jewels”: installation notes

The protagonists are two: on the one hand, the imposing Celebrations Hall in Palazzo Madama with its vertiginous height, masterly proportions and the austere minimalistic beauty that distinguishes the royal Savoy residences.

On the other hand, we have the Gianfranco “jewels”, which we prefer to characterize anthropologically as “ornaments,” and which are rich in material, formal rarities, aesthetic hazards, quotations, and even exotic and microscopic beauty.

A balanced installation between these two excesses that find its characteristic in an orderly series of six iron structures, such as cages in which fragile and strange creatures could be gathered, as body ornaments conceived for limbs, gestures and sinuous feminine curves.

The entire structure of the installation is covered by rust – an extreme exposition of material poverty. In this way, kept in the shade, the installation doesn’t want to be compared with neither the grandeur of the space nor the richness of the ornaments. All the six large structures lie on a technical platform, also a rusty one, that slightly elevates the temporary display of the objects. is also rusty. Gianfranco was fascinated by rust. I don’t know why. – Franco Raggi, Project Creator

Publications

Lessons of Fashion

Frisa Maria Luisa (a cura di), Gianfranco Ferré. Lezioni di Moda (Lessons of Fashion), Marsilio, Venezia 2009

Gianfranco Ferre Foundation Lessons in Fashion
Lessons in Fashion

Drawings

Airaghi Rita (a cura di), Gianfranco Ferré Disegni (Drawings), Skira, Milano 2010

From Gianfranco Ferré’s notes: “To me, drawing means throwing a spontaneous idea onto a piece of paper in order to analyze it, check it, assess it, clean it up, stripping the basic elements down to simple, precise lines, grafted onto diagonals and parallels and enclosed in geometrical forms and figures… as a designer and architect I conceive fashion as design…”

And it is from his training as an architect that Gianfranco Ferré draws his method, which finds its fulcrum, its starting point, his way of giving shape to ideas, concreteness to insight, in the drawing itself, “by stopping impressions and giving them an outline of consistency”: hence, the drawing as “necessity and passion together, a point of arrival in the dimension of reality, but at the same time a point of departure for a project.”

The aim of this book of Ferré’s drawings is therefore to piece together his intellectual development, the evolution of an inner world of research, interpretation, cultural and stylistic synthesis, that will survive as proof and as a source of reflection: drawing as the expression of freedom and rigor, creativity and method, but also a working tool, a daily exercise, a mindset, a concrete approach. But mostly a modus operandi.

If, in fact, for Ferré creating an outfit means starting a process of formal construction through the elaboration of simple geometrical forms into complex structures developed into their three dimensionality, the first stage required in this process of elaboration is the “definition” of the forms themselves by means of a bozzetto, a sketch.

Ferré’s relentless inventiveness becomes a sign, in his incredible silhouettes that with just a few strokes of the felt-tip pen bring to mind a dynamic figure, often fixed by the line of a pencil, by glimmers of light and gold rendered with foil or with a sprinkling of tiny diamonds, or create outfits resembling patches of color, the twists and turns of calligraphy, an explosion of lines, or the synthesis of a detail endowed with incredible textural impact. This is what we always find striking about Ferré: that even when the image he draws is just a sketch it reveals the precision of the detail.

His entire universe, then, is condensed in a quick sketch, usually made in pencil: just a few lines, precise, essential, a silhouette set down in its essential points—shoulders, waist, legs—that spread out on the sheet. They may only be a few lines, but the figure is already there.

Another thing that strikes us about Ferré is his ability to perceive things immediately. Not a lifeless outfit on a clothes-hanger but something that’s alive, with animation setting the pace and the movement. Just a few lines that in the very next phase develop according to the geometrical principles of a technical drawing, where the forms and details of an outfit are reduced and analyzed in elementary terms, where the sizes and proportions acquire definite contours, so that everything can be read and understood. Even by those who are not wholly at ease with fashion, but who do know how to appreciate the art of drawing and a mind’s inexhaustible creative capacity.

– Rita Biraghi, Director of the Fondazione Gianfranco Ferré

Gianfranco Ferre Drawings
Gianfranco Ferre Drawings

The White Shirt

Airaghi Rita (a cura di), La camicia bianca secondo me. Gianfranco Ferré, Skira (White Shirt), Milano 2014 

The creativity and the stylistic genius of Gianfranco Ferré illustrated through the icon leader of his sartorial poetry: the white shirt.

The exhibition “The white shirt in my opinion. Gianfranco Ferré “and the volume-catalog published by Skira with the artistic direction of Luca Stoppini are the result of the collaboration between the Prato Fabric Museum Foundation and the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation.

Conceived with the intent of highlighting the creative talent and design of the designer, the catalog and the exhibition offer different methods of analysis and reading of the Ferré white shirt, a constant presence that runs like a common thread throughout his career, defined by himself “sign of my style”, or lexicon “contemporary elegance”.

In perfect harmony with the concept of the exhibition, Skira’s book proposes a content articulated in multiple elements that aim at enhancing the white shirt and a vision of Gianfranco Ferré’s design applied to this must, highlighting the most constructive elements innovative and endless, fascinating interpretations.

The content of the catalog: contributions and insights from protagonists of Italian style, fashion and architecture; a compelling sequence of photographic images by Luca Stoppini and one by x-ray simulations by Leonardo Salvini, the result of a technical research developed in collaboration with the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence; drawings and original sketches by Gianfranco Ferré and photos of the catwalk. An integral part of the volume are the 27 cards edited by Daniela Degl’Innocenti, conservator of the Prato Museum.

– Edited by Rita Airagi, artistic direction by Luca Stoppini.

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Jewels

Airaghi Rita (a cura di), Gianfranco Ferré. Sotto un’altra luce: Gioielli e Ornamenti (Jewels), Skira, Milano 2017

This book deals with a particular aspect of Gianfranco Ferré’s creativity and design: the jewel as an object. The intention is to highlight the special attention he has always devoted to it, both in terms of forms and materials and in terms of inspiration, with results that have often been innovative and surprising.

The volume must also be intended as a tribute and recollection of the very beginnings of Ferré’s creative trajectory, which actually started with bijoux and accessories – following an interest spurred by curiosity more than by a firm conviction, by the pleasure of manipulating materials more than by the resolution to become a fashion designer, which he would make several years later.

These objects testify to the consistency of a passion and an interest based on two main postulates, one methodological and the other aesthetic- stylistic. The first: just like a dress, a jewel is an unlimited landscape of confrontation with materials – in their countless peculiarities – and innovation, trials and progresses: an approach that is reminiscent of Galileo’s experimental and scientific method. The second: just like a dress, a jewel is meant to cover and decorate the body and emphasize its key points. It is bound to the human figure as if it were a part of it.

Ferré’s love for the jewel-ornament has never been confined in the background: the jewel and the dress merge into one another, as if one couldn’t do without the other. It’s an inseparable bond in terms of design and inspiration, experimentation and fascination.

– Rita Biraghi, Gianfranco Ferré Foundation

Gianfranco Ferre Foundation Jewels
Jewels