On 15th August 1944, Gianfranco Ferre was born in Legnano, in northern Italy. He shares a birthday with Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French General and Emperor. His mother was a widow of an engineer, and Ferre and his brother were brought up by her and his two aunts who were perfectionists who influenced him a great deal.
In 1967, he qualified as an architect in Milan, and supported himself by making belts while at college. After getting his degree in 1969 in architecture from Milan Polytechnic Institute, his first job was in the design studio of a furniture company. 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. From 1970 till 1973 Gianfranco spent in India, where he had been sent to study the crafts. The colours and craftsmanship made a great impression on him. 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. In 1973, on his return to Italy, Ferre met Franco Mattioli, who had a faltering clothing house. Ferre agreed to do the design work for Mattioli and in 1974 brought out the first womens ready-to-wear collection for Mattioli's Baila label. In 1978, after 4 years designing for Mattoli, Ferre decided it was time to founded his own label. He gave a 50% partnership to Franco Mattoli, which is still there.
In 1978, he presented womens ready-to-wear, his Oaks line, and a line of garments, reflecting the free spirit of Sportswear. In 1982, he presented his first Menswear collection and accessories. In 1983, Ferre became a professor of Fashion at the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy.
Ferre has beeen awarded the Italian Fashion Oscar the "Occhio D'Oro six times, from 1984 to 1987.
In 1984, he was named Designer of the Year. The international trade Press awarded him the Womens Ready-to-wear award five times over the following years. In the same year she released his first women’s fragrance “Gianfranco Ferre”.
In 1986 Ferre introduced his first Couture collection. In this year, the President of Italy made him a Commander of the Italian Republic. In the same year, he launched Studio OOl, a new line and also his fur Collection Fourrures. Furthermore he also brought out his first men’s fragrance “Gianfranco Ferre”.
Ferre became Stylistic Director of Christian Dior in Paris in 1989, when he was chosen by owner Bernard Arnault to replace Marc Bohan. He managed to capture the traditional Dior spirit and interpret it in a modern fresh manner, while retaining the elegance and attention to details that define haute couture. He continued creating clothes on his own label during this time.
In 1996, it was announced that Ferre would end his engagement with Dior with the Spring 1997 collection after 7 productive years. In this year He introduced his own Jeans line.
In 1997, he opened a Jeans Boutique in Rome, And Boutique Gieffeffe in Milan. There was a "Ferre Week" in Tokyo and he held a Costume Exhibit of 18th and 19th century historic clothing in Turin. Ferre opened his Boutique in Geneva, and a new U.S. Showroom as well as Duty-free shops.
In 1998 there was the opening of the new headquarters in the Former Gondrand building at via Pontaccio 21, Milan.
He continues to produce his couture collections, fur collections, ready-to-wear for men and women, the Oaks and Jeans collections, Studio collection for Marzotto Europe's biggest textile giant, 11 over lines and 15 licences. Bergdorf Goodman in New York alone sells more than $1 million per year of his clothes.
Ferre has a passion for travel, and visits several countries every year. He also enjoys relaxing at his lakeside house in Lake Maggiore not far from Milan.
Gianfranco Ferre pictures the women who wear his clothes as "in movement, dark-haired, scintillating and brilliant." He likes his women to be dressed in feminine curved lines, asymmetric or subtly restrained silhouettes. His garments are usually graphically created in strong shapes and bright colours. Highly sensitive to form and outline, Ferre shows collections that bear the hallmarks of one whose early training was in the careful study of detail, in analysis and in planning. His intellectual approach to design, produces powerful and controlled clothes which are often folded and layered to create his precise statements. Ferre has become noted for his expert use of stark colours, especially red, black, white and gold, and his extravagant use of luxurious fabrics such as fur, leather and taffeta. He is however still able to insert a little fun into his garments, like this dress made of cane in a basket weave, for Spring 2000. One of the garments with which he is always connected, is the white blouse. He is renowned for the way he sculpts white cotton, silk, or his favourite organza into so many shapes. He has taken the white shirt and made it his own, elevating it far above a humble shirt. He uses beaded cuffs, lace ruffles, collars that soar like birds or that cut loose with billowing sleeves. He is the king of the white shirt. Harmony, geometry, finesse, free-flowing silhouettes, volume and fullness, classic yet modern, are some of the expressions used to describe the creations of Gianfranco Ferre. He has been called the "Frank Lloyd Wright of Italian fashion" comparing him to the great American architect.