Activities /



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Skira Publishing House, 2017

edited by Rita Airaghi

The Whys

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 Airaghi

Gianfranco Ferré Foundation


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Skira Publishing House, 2014

edited by Rita Airaghi

Whys and Wherefores of the Exhibition

The joint decision on the part of the Prato Textile Museum Foundation and the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation to devote an exhibition to the designer’s iconic white shirt is clearly a tribute to an outstanding protagonist in the world of contemporary style. Expression of an optimal consonance between the two institutions, it is an initiative within the sphere of the museum’s long-term program of cultural events centering on the theme of fashion in very much of a modern context. Dealing directly with the subject of fashion involves, for the Textile Museum, ranging beyond the realm of fabrics and yarns to spark the interest of a wider audience by considering materials in a diffferent and creatively rich form (clothes) while exalting an age-old manufacturing heritage through one of the most significant socio-economic phenomena of the times.

In reality, the exhibition is about much more than the title seems to suggest. The truest and deepest intent of the two foundations is to portray an overall vision, a philosophy, a world where the white shirt emerges possibly as the tip of an iceberg that enfolds Gianfranco Ferré’s infinitely enthralling aesthetic credo.

Recalling and reliving Gianfranco Ferré’s magnificant fashion adventure is instrumental to having it endure in a vital and meaningful way, to making it easily accessible and, thereby, inspiring others – everyone, young people in particular – to understand and appreciate its wealth of facets and features. As do all of the individuals who had the chance to discover in an upfront, personal manner the mighty universe of Gianfranco Ferré, so remarkably full of references and influences thanks to the endless curiosity that led the designer and the man to explore the whole entire world. Books, travels (both real and imaginary), in-depth study of fashion history, love of the arts, fascination with distant horizons and cultures. A sum total of experiences that kept resurfacing under multifarious guises in a professional lexicon nevertheless ruled by absolute respect for design methodology.

So, rendering homage to Gianfranco Ferré means showing how pure creative genius can find the highest of expressions through design rigor. It means rendering homage to a passionate work culture and to the finest of craftsmanship. In addition, it means offering companies near and far a further opportunity to grow, new generations of designers and creatives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn by listening to the voice of an all-time Italian fashion great.

The exhibition is also perfectly in sync with the general attitude Gianfranco Ferré always had toward his work, viewing it as something to share with and explain to others, never keeping it to himself shut up in an ivory tower.

To facilitate the transmission of skills and values, what is better than a museum where making major experiences come alive again can stimulate creativity, engender people’s desire for knowledge?

Comprising an integral part of this project of ours are the texts in the catalog that serve to enhance an understanding not only of the exhibition per se but also of the designer’s creative cosmos. They present the thoughts, ideas and reflections of various friends and professionals who had a particularly close bond with Ferré or who have shown a singular bent for illustrating his world.

To the authors of these firsthand accounts of Gianfranco Ferré and his shirts we owe a deep debt of gratitude.

Therefore, our sincere thanks to:

  • –  Quirino Conti. One of Italy’s most eclectic cultural figures and creative minds, a unique painter with words re the realms of beauty, art, fashion and living.
  • –  Margherita Palli. A major stage designer and exquisite personality, co-author with Ferré of the enchanting visual landscapes imbuing the “Altre Emozioni” exhibit at the Pitti Palace in June 2000 with an otherworld dimension.
  • –  Anna Maria Castro. Professor, researcher, fashion and costume history scholar, an expert in narrating the design dynamics behind the definition of style and elegance.
  • –  Franco Raggi. Prominent Italian architect and designer, classmate and longtime friend of Gianfranco Ferré, creator of many emblematic Ferré work spaces, from the fashion house’s storied headquarters on Via Pontaccio to the foundation’s current home on Via Tortona.
  • –  Daniela Puppa. Architect, professor, friend and classmate of Gianfranco Ferré, for many years a valuable collaborator of his in the name of a common love for design and design culture.

Filippo Guarini, Director of the Textile Museum Foundation

Rita Airaghi, Director of the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation


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Skira Publishing House, 2010

Why make a book on the drawings?

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 Airaghi

Director of the Fondazione Gianfranco Ferré


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A MarsilioMODE book published in cooperation with Fondazione Pitti Discovery

edited by Maria Luisa Frisa

Lessons in Fashion is a collection of the lectures Gianfranco Ferré gave over a span of years, from 1994 to 2007. The last one is dated June 14, 2007, just a few days prior to his death.

The person responsible for putting this series of lectures together is Rita Airaghi, director of the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation. As such, she is also imparting order, form and visibility to an archive of extraordinary importance to the history of Italian fashion.

The entire world served as the backdrop for these lectures, for they were given in cities ranging from London to Tokyo, from Milan to Istanbul, passing through Shanghai, Turin and Florence. And on each occasion Ferré addressed a different audience, whether students at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan or at Central Saint Martin’s College in London, or the super elite of fashion circles as in the case of the Luxury Conference that Suzy Menkes coordinated in Istanbul for the International Herald Tribune.

Lessons in Fashion also includes the photographs that Gianfranco Ferré presented in the form of slide projections during his lectures to add substance to his words. In these texts the architect of fashion – to use the term the international press coined to define Ferré – talks about his creative processes and practices with generosity and intelligence. As an architect he knew quite well what giving concrete shape to an idea, an intuition means: drawing a fashion sketch on paper and then transforming it into the technical design that in essence is the pattern from which the article of clothing is made.

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Collana. Prêt-à-porter A/I 1993 Ph. Andrea PassuelloBracciale. Prêt-à-porter P/E 1993 Ph. Andrea PassuelloBracciale. Prêt-à-porter A/I 1993 Ph. Andrea PassuelloCollana. Prêt-à-porter A/I 1985 Ph. Andrea PAssuelloBracciali. Prêt-à-porter P/E 1993 Ph. Andrea PAssuelloCanone Inverso. Prêt-à-porter A/I 1986La Ronde. Prêt-à-porter P/E 1993Calice. Prêt-à-porter A/I 1982
Ph. Luca StoppiniPicaresque. Prêt-à-porter A/I 2001
Ph. Luca StoppiniCalice. Prêt-à-porter A/I 1982
Ph. Leonardo SalviniOrigami. Prêt-à-porter P/E 2004
Ph. Leonardo SalviniPrêt-à-porter A/I 1981Prêt-à-porter P/E 1985Alta Moda P/E 1988