Byline: Rusty Williamson

DALLAS — A week before confirming that he might take his fashion empire to Wall Street, Italian designer Gianfranco Ferre had another kind of public offering on his mind — a pre-spring trunk show for his adoring fans at Neiman Marcus’s flagship here.
Ferre presented his fall collection for women and men on the runway last month at Neiman’s, where he was the featured designer at the chain’s annual best-dressed luncheon. It’s staged in conjunction with this city’s Crystal Charity Ball, which benefits children’s charities.
A spot on the best-dressed list, which is limited to 10 honorees each year, is highly coveted among Dallas’s high-style crowd. Those making the cut this time included Marilyn Augur, Nancy Duncan, Faye Gould, Kelly Green, Deborah Gunter, Sharon McCullough, Mary Joe McIlroy, Su Su Meyer, Bessy Lee Penland and Jennie Reeves.
Annette Simmons was this year’s Hall of Fame inductee, and Sharon McCutcheon was also recognized with a special award for her devotion to the Crystal Charity organization.
Though Ferre’s apparel hangs in Neiman’s second-floor designer salon, his presence was felt the minute customers walked in the front door. A fashion retrospective chronicling his recent career was staged on the first floor, and several windows featured his fall line.
In a chat with WWD, Ferre said he’s looking forward to opening new U.S. offices and showrooms in New York on Fifth Avenue The site is planned at about 9,000 square feet and will carry all Ferre’s lines.
Previously, the designer’s American businesses were handled from Milan, except for bridge collection Gieffeffe and Gianfranco Ferre Studio, which are operated by Marzotto USA.
Dressed in a blue jacket with black piping made by his Bavarian tailor, Ferre said he’s tired of fashion’s recidivism.
“Today’s designers rely too much on the past for inspiration,” he said. “I believe in looking to the present and the future.”
For spring, his collection will likely mix romantic elements with a masculine touch, including lots of pants, Ferre explained.
“The duty of modern design is to reply to our culture,” he continued. “It’s also important to keep in mind the bodies of those who wear it — the clothes must be wearable.”
At the Ferre pre-spring trunk show, top-selling looks included a black wool crepe sleeveless column dress with mock turtleneck, a red silk ottoman pantsuit with covered buttons and Mao collar, and a navy silk charmeuse jacket with jewel buttons. While the store would not comment on volume done, one source put the figure at “considerably over $100,000.”

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