OSMANNORO, Italy — Fulvio Rigoni is unflinching.
His clear ideas about the Salvatore Ferragamo woman’s look secured him the role of women’s ready-to-wear design director at the storied Florence-based house after working with former creative director Massimiliano Giornetti, who exited the company last March. Rigoni joined Ferragamo in September 2015 after runs at Prada, Gucci, Jil Sander and, most recently, Christian Dior, where he designed both rtw and haute couture.
Greeting WWD at Ferragamo’s Osmannoro factory ahead of the fall show, which will take place in Milan on Feb. 26, it is clear that Rigoni is methodical and organized. Notes about the collection are precisely typed up, his mood board on one side, his sketches on another and photographs of the looks neatly divided by categories on a desk.
“I was asking myself about the meaning of beauty and I found the answer in this Serge Lutens image,” said Rigoni, pointing to a TV advertising campaign for Jun Ropé from 1978. “It’s extremely refined, very chic and very rich but also outside the schemes, almost experimental.” The photo shows a veiled woman and a younger man. “Beauty is all of the above for me, far from anything too harmonic and precise in proportions. Here there are so many contrasting elements; they are wealthy, driving around in a luxury car, but their age difference, the fact that they wear a cotton trench — I found the contrasts intriguing and sensual,” he explained.
Rigoni’s appointment was made official in November, although he did take a bow after the spring show in Milan a month before, which was perceived as a transitional season. For fall, the designer has evolved and further developed his guidelines for the brand. His lineup is luxurious and sensual, he said, yet “always comfortable and dynamic.” Compared to his approach for the spring collection, which he defined as “almost naif and softer,” with several floral patterns, fall is “more architectonic,” with dramatic cuts, slits and structured pieces.
Rigoni translated the hat and the veil shading the woman’s face in the Lutens photo into big collars and feminine hoods, in some cases reminiscent of a flower’s corolla. He admitted that his previous experiences working for Basile and Prada telegraphed structured designs and “twisted classics,” although he confessed he found this expression “more banal” than the final product. He referred to Helmut Lang hoods that have sporty and practical touches but are decorative around the face. There are also mixed-media hoods with zips so they can be detached.
His passion for and research into fabrics resulted in innovative solutions. Cashmere was treated to have a feel similar to felt, which also makes it “more durable” and gives the designs more structure. Wool had a foam finishing, resulting in almost a technical fabric, eliminating the need for any lining. Jersey was blended with cashmere and wool. Rigoni also mixed different furs, such as stardust mink, greenlander beaver and Persian breit.
Outerwear, beginning with a classic trench with a vaguely Eighties look, was a starting point for the designer, who said structure helped him “define the direction” of the collection. The silhouettes are either straight or fitted at the waist but “soft and comfortable, never constrictive, with slits that add sensuality to the movement.” A number of designs blend the two silhouettes, fitted in front and straight in the back. Rigoni’s woman “loves versatile” pieces, so sleeves can be detached, with a more casual flair for a look that can be worn from morning to evening.
The designer harked back to Ferragamo’s history with colors, lighting up the looks with shots of orange or fuchsia on a natural palette that included white and a birch hue, or blue and black.
Pants were stretch, almost conelike, with a Sixties look, and skirts always came with slits and elongated, sometimes held at the waist by a stretch grosgrain strap. There were many dresses, some in silk cady or a very light silk organza with a “furry” effect.
Rigoni redesigned and combined three animal patterns: a tiger print, almost geometric and inspired by a Chinese carpet; a jaguarlike print reminiscent of a flower, and a larger, softer and blurred version.
Knitwear, always very important to Ferragamo, was presented in dresses combined with napa or an evening tuxedo in an innovative thread of velvet and stretch viscose.
Looking back to the founder’s original footwear designs, Rigoni worked with Paul Andrew, design director of women’s footwear, on a lineup of column heels, a version of his Opanka construction and a bootie with a deep slit on the vamp.
Rigoni said Ferragamo “is not about over-the-top fashion, but I feel this is happening in general. It is not the time now to be randomly hyper-creative in a delirium of freedom.” He would rather focus on attention to detail, proportion, structure and techniques and “the way you wear clothes.” His challenge is to “make the Serge Lutens mysterious woman real.
“Ferragamo represents an extraordinary past that you can’t forget and every time I can, I will underscore and remember this. I feel really close to this brand, which has one of the most extraordinary archives in terms of numbers and quality, similar to Dior’s. This is a fantastic way for me to challenge myself in the restyling of such an exceptional brand. I am putting all my energy into this,” he said.