MILAN — The family of the late Gianfranco Ferré, who created a foundation in the name of the Italian designer in 2008, said Friday it was donating its archives and headquarters to Milan’s Politecnico University.
This is leading to the establishment of the Gianfranco Ferré Research Center. The designer graduated from the Politecnico in 1969 with a degree in architecture and throughout his career was known as the “architect of fashion” for his sculptured silhouettes.
The general director of the foundation and cousin of the designer, Rita Airaghi, worked over the years to digitize its assets, which comprise more than 150,000 documents and artifacts ranging from sketches, technical designs and photographs to clothes and accessories.
The archives have been recognized as a patrimony “of particular cultural interest” by the minister of cultural heritage and become part of the system of the Politecnico’s Historical Archives.
Alberto Ferré, president of the foundation and the late designer’s brother, expressed his pride in “having honored [his] commitment to keep [the designer’s] memory and value alive. From now on, the baton will pass to those who will certainly know how to use the most advanced tools to further spread a cultural heritage of immense value.” He touted the academic prestige of the Politecnico, where “the newest technologies” will allow to inject new life in his brother’s “poetry, creativity and dream that are at the foundation of his fashion.”
The center will be coordinated by the design department of the Politecnico and is based on an interdisciplinary vision that will blend tradition, sartorial and artisanal craftsmanship with innovation, technology and digital expertise, such as augmented and virtual reality; reverse modeling, digital prototyping and 3D prints; haptic and sonic perception; holographic rendering; animated graphics, and movie production.
The innovative research and experiments, coordinated by the Fashion in Process Laboratory of the design department, will involve several disciplines, from mechanical, bio or mathematical engineering to computer science.
The first year of activities will conclude with an initiative open to the public that will present a number of unique pieces from the Ferré archives in the context of the new digital transformation of the cultural and creative industries.
“The value of heritage is to stand the test of time, grow and look to the future. To preserve means to continue to make sure that thoughts and objects relive in new shapes. This is the objective of the center, with the intent to promote the digital innovation of the creative and cultural industries,” said Ferruccio Resta, dean of the Milan Politecnico. He described Ferré not only as a “great designer,” but also as an artist, and an ambassador of Italy and of the university in the world, “one of those names that make us proud.” His designs blended “technique and art, method and inventiveness,” which the Politecnico also stimulates by blending technology and creativity, he contended.
Ferré founded his namesake fashion house in 1978 and was among the group of designers who contributed to the development of Italian fashion in the ’80s and into the ’90s, with the likes of Krizia, Missoni, Valentino, Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace. WWD dubbed Ferré the “Frank Lloyd Wright of Italian fashion.”
His clothes were powerful, he loved a good suit and offered countless variations on the white shirt theme, playing with cuffs and collars, embroideries, ruches and ruffles.
Ferré was also Christian Dior’s couturier from 1989 to 1996, when an Italian leading a French couture house was almost scandalous. He died in 2007 aged 62.