The multifaceted nature of Gianfranco Ferrés approach
Starting with methodology, a word not often applied in fashion practice, which is more commonly interpreted through the filter of pure talent and creativity. The conception of methodology as characterizing several technical and scientific universities since the mid-twentieth century has changed progressively from belonging to the Positivist vision that simplistically pretends to unveil the original program of the Enlightenment and was based on the total trust in the “scientific method.” Indeed, the “method” was intended by Positivists as a linear succession of logically hierarchized phases, linked by the cause-effect principle that would guarantee the certainty of results, assigning to humanities 13and philosophy a merely ancillary role.
“The methodological approach is an indispensable aspect of creative activity.The emotional and sensory input has to be rationalized, analyzed, codified and brought within a perspective of design.”
Gianfranco Ferré, lecture “The Forms of Emotions.” Politecnico di Milano, June 14, 2007
shaping the future
Gianfranco Ferré’s search for harmonizing his emotional intuition with both the rational conception of methodology and the technical dimension of making found fundamental sources for inspiration in history and memories. The relationship between new design principles and goals and historical memories and archetypes was continuously questioned by Ferré. Ferré moves from this cultural imprinting along an endless and very personal deepening of this controversial relationship between modernity and the layered dimensions of materiality and history. Today Gianfranco Ferré’s design principles can be rediscovered in light of the actual digital transformation, which is breaking in new ways the relationship between the tangible and the intangible, giving birth to a cyber-physical reality transforming materiality and memories into data, as well as enabling the translation of data into a new “matter.”
“The color represents an essential category within the whole idea of a new garment, of its shape and nature, embedded in it since the very f irst concept and sketch on paper.”
The chromatic research run by Gianfranco Ferré is clearly expressed by this cluster of drawings. Color is not only a superficial dimension characterizing the appearance of a garment: it shapes the dress itself. At times it fills volumes, or shines as colored glow, sometimes transforming into a touch of shimmering or materializing into encrusted gems. Details and decorations have a rather unique function, expressing Ferré’s tension to transform his creations in theatrical plots, searching for what he defines “effects”. A watercolors floral carpet gently lied down the shoulders, glittering tridimensional polkadots, fluffy exaggerated bows, are intentionally applied on his volumetric or slick silhouettes, in search for that “wonder,” as important to him as the rational composition of the garment.
“My garments are born to dress living and moving figures, that respond to precise requirements of freedom and comfort.”
Gianfranco Ferré’s design approach is codified through six principles rooted in the fundamentals that have characterized Italian fashion and the polytechnic culture that – as shown in the previous chapter – strongly characterized the designer’s methodology. These design principles: the body, the matter, the color, the detail, the volume, and the movement describe a creative approach and a unique and original vision that reinterpreted the forms, languages, practices, and meanings of fashion. At the same time, this material and immaterial knowledge preserved in the Ferré archive has become a driver of innovation, challenging conceptual categories and suggesting multiple languages and interpretations. With this premise, Ferré’s methodological approach is becoming increasingly relevant and contemporary, offering new perspectives on fashion design that have learned from the great masters and look at the future through encoding new meanings and exploiting cutting-edge technologies.
Ferré’s conception of the construction of dresses belongs to his architectural approach. He often creates a dialogue between the natural silhouette of the body and the geometry of the garment. Through an interplay between harmonizing and contrasting, and mixing and overlaying circles, triangles, cones, he creates a new “living space” for the human figure.
“The essential form is the one of the human body, with its physicality, its real moving requirements, its dynamic of interaction with what it wears and its surrounding environment.”