Gianfranco Ferre, the Italian fashion designer dubbed "the Frank Lloyd Wright of Italian fashion" and known for his years as stylistic director of the French firm Christian Dior, died Sunday in a Milan hospital at the age of 62.
In a statement from his family reported by the Associated Press, Ferre had a massive brain hemorrhage Friday and was taken to San Raffaele Hospital, where he died Sunday night.
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Ferre created structured and stylized clothes marked by simple geometric shapes, precise tailoring and clearly defined lines. "The design of a dress, furniture, a house, a room, a street and a city are all the same process," he told a writer for Esquire magazine in 1988. "As an architect, I learned to think and express myself on flat forms, on paper, and to imagine the contour of the lines of a design."
Since the late 70’s he had been dressing women with strong personalities including; Sharon Stone, Barbra Streisand, Elizabeth Taylor, Oprah Winfrey, the Queen of Jordan, Paloma Picasso, Bernadette Chirac, Claude Pompidou, Sophia Loren, Princess Diana, Princess Michael of Kent and Marie-Helene de Rothschild. Ferre said his collections were meant for a woman "who looked at tradition but was making her own choice."
In 1988, Ferre was named artistic director of the French house of Christian Dior, thus making him one of the first foreign-born designers to hold that position. It was a choice that did not go over well in France. Ferre’s design style made designing a ‘Dioresque’ collection of ultra-feminine shapes and frills and the critics were not kind. However, he remained for 11 years.
Ferre studied architecture at Milan’s Polytechnic Institute and upon graduating in the late 1960s, difficulty finding work. He briefly worked in interior design and then making jewelry.
In the mid-1970s, Ferre joined forces with Franco Mattioli, a Bolognese clothing manufacturer, and produced a collection of silk dresses for Mattioli’s Baila label.
Impressed by Ferre’s originality, Mattioli agreed to back the designer’s own label. With just $100,000 in capital investment, the two men started Gianfranco Ferre SpA, a holding company for his designs, in 1978.
Although his style remained consistent over the years, some fashion observers said his sense of stiffness and structure shifted in the early 80s to more fluid shapes in seemingly lighter fabrics. During the 1980s, he expanded his lines, debuting menswear, fragrances, watches, eyewear, bath accessories, furs and a haute couture collection.
Upon leaving Dior in 1998, Ferre opened two London stores and a new headquarters in Milan the next year. In 2000, Ferre and Mattioli sold control of the company, and Ferre stayed on as creative director.
His spring-summer 2008 menswear collection is to be presented in Milan next week.
Source: LATimes & WWD Photos: Style.com