Italian fashion designer Gianfranco Ferre, 62, died Sunday after suffering a brain hemorrhage on Friday in Milan. He was an architect both in his heart and in his work. His flare for structure and volume along with his love of travel, particularly to Asia, defined his work throughout his career.
After graduating with a degree in architecture from Milan Politechnico, Ferre set off for India where the colors and materials inspired him to pursue a career in fashion. He opened his own label, Baila, in 1974 and then another signature label, Gianfranco Ferre, in 1978. It was there that he earned the nickname, the Frank Lloyd Wright of fashion, for his attention to form and structure and his use of innovative techniques such as laser cutting-. His fashion signatures the billowing white shirt, or the structured pant suit became favorites of Hollywood icons like Elizabeth Taylor and Julia Roberts.
In 1989 LVMH Chairman Bernard Arnault chose Ferre to be the artistic director of Christian Dior, replacing Marc Bohan who had been at the helm of the house for 30 years. Commuting between Milan and Paris, Ferre reinvented the iconic French label’s signatures, including the voluminous floral ballgown, the 1950s-style suit, and the strict evening column with his own sense of drama and proportion. A private man, Ferre was known for his fantastic sense of humor and his love of travel and architecture.