Designers

Fashion Biography

Gianfranco Ferre, Fashion Designer

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Gianfranco Ferre was born in 15th August 1944 in northern Italy. His mother was a widow of an engineer. He and his brother grow up with his two aunts who were perfectionists which influenced his life. In 1967, he qualified as an architect in Milan, and supported himself by making belts while at college. He received a degree in architecture in 1969 at the Politecnico di Milano university. In 1983, he joined Domus Academy as founding Professor of the Department of Fashion Design.


He made some jewellery for a girl friend which was noticed by the owners of a boutique in Portofino, and he found himself designing jewellery for Walter Albini, a successful designer of garments made of silk and luxurious fabrics, and Christiane Bailly. Ferre also started working as a freelance designer, completing commissions for Lagerfeld and Fiorucci.


Ferre began his fashion career in 1970 by designing accessories, then worked as a raincoat designer in 1972-74. He also spent much time travelling in India designing and advising the new fashion industry. The dazzling country with all its crafts, traditions and colour schemes, was a revelation to him.


He started his own company Baila in 1974 and launched his signature collection for women in 1978. His first men"s collection appeared in 1982, followed in 1986 by his first couture collection in Rome. Ferre became Stylistic Director of Christian Dior in Paris in 1989, when he was chosen by owner Bernard Arnault to replace Marc Bohan. In 1996, it was announced that Ferre would end his engagement with Dior with the SS1997 collection for the label.


Ferre died on June 17, 2007. The previous Friday, he had suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. Ferre was hospitalized at the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, where he was pronounced dead a few days later.He was replaced by Swedish designer Lars Nilsson. It was to be a short-lived tenure with his designs scrapped before the SS2008 shows and replaced by a team effort that aimed to more closely reflect Gianfranco Ferre"s legacy.

Selected Products
Forma Zero by GFF
Oaks by Ferre, a sporty line for women
Ferrejeans (for men and women)
Studio .0001
GFF, the bridge line of Ferre

Selected Awards
Occhio d"Oro Award (six times) for Best Italian Designer
Gold Medal from the City of Milan
Commendatore del Ordine decoration from the President of the Italian Republic
De d"Or (Golden Thimble Award) for his first Dior haute couture collection (1989)

Ownership
The Gianfranco Ferre S.p.A. is the holding company that coordinates the fashion business of the Ferre label. It is owned by Gianfranco Ferre (Creative Director) and Franco Mattioli (Chief Financial Officer) in equal shares. Recently, Ferre announced that the group plans to become listed at the Milan stock exchange in 1999. In order to prepare for this movement Ferre started to rearrange the holding significantly. First step was the recruitment of experiened management personnel under the guide of Giuseppe Cipriano. Next step is the reduction of the number of subsidiaries from today 21 to four or five in the future. Another move is the acquisition of the apparel producer Dei Matttioli, which is owned by Franco Mattioli. Ferre also seems to be interested in acquiring some of his contractors, in order to have more control over the production.

Performance
The company achieved total sales of 950 billion Lira ($589 million) in 1994, an increase of 15% over 1993, which had shown enjoyed a similar increase over 1992 sales. Ferre"s 14 licences contributed 58% to total sales in 1994. In 1996, total sales were already at 1250 billion Lira ($811 million).

Exports
70% of Ferre sales are achieved in export, where the US appears to be the biggest market with growing importance. Italy still holds 20% of the sales, but the success of the Ferre Jeans business in the US seems to shift the focus here. The Studio .0001 by Ferre line, produced by Italian garment manufacturer Marzotto, is basically targeted at the US market.

Distribution
Ferre distributes in 17 exclusive boutiques worldwide (1994) and has over 250 sales points in total.

Production/ Licenses
Studio .0001 and Forma O is produced by Marzotto, one of the biggest Italian garment manufacturers. The sportswear collections Oaks by Ferre and Ferrejeans used to be manufactured by Italiana Manifatture S.p.A., but recently Ferre contracted those lines for the next ten years to Ittiere, who also furnish the bridge collections of Dolce&Gabbana, Verace, and others. The range of licenced products is wide, including shoes, stationary, luggage, home furnishings, and perfumes. The latest addition to this list is the license given to the Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch.

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By Courtney Lynne
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