Felice “Phil” Ferrante, Saks Fifth Avenue’s master men’s tailor, died Oct. 15 after a long battle with cancer. He was 68.
“He was a master craftsman and a lovable guy,” said Stephen I. Sadove, chairman and chief executive officer of Saks Fifth Avenue. “The talent he had for hand-sewn suits, designing, cutting and making a garment fit, is a diminishing art form.”
Born in a small town outside Naples, Ferrante came from a poor family. With nine brothers and sisters, he had no choice but to start working at age seven as an apprentice to a tailor in Italy. With skills under his belt, Ferrante in 1966 immigrated to the U.S. to earn money to send home to his family. In the Flushing section of Queens, he opened the Ferrante Custom Tailor Shop in 1967 where he remained until 1986. A year later, he became the supervisor of the Battaglia shop in Manhattan. In 1988, he shifted to Sulka, where he served as head tailor until 1996. Then he shifted to Harrison James until 1998, when he became the head tailor at the Alan Flusser shop inside Saks Fifth Avenue. After Alan Flusser and Saks parted company, Ferrante remained at Saks. He established his own private couture line at the store, which bore his name, and he ran the men’s tailor shop at the flagship.
Ferrante is survived by his wife, Anna; his son, Guido; a daughter, Maria; son-in-law Jay, and two grandchildren.