European Fashion Heritage Association

Journal Designers

Many Archives, One Fashion Story: Gianfranco Ferré at Christian Dior

1990scoutureFrench fashionItalian fashionTales from the archive

A tale told through sketches and photographs piled together throughout the EFHA archive – by Piotr Szaradowski, head of Muzealne Mody Collection

In 1989 Gianfranco Ferré began designing for the house of Dior. He replaced the main designer Marc Bohan, who had had occupied this position from 1960 (taken after Yves Saint Laurent). When Gianfranco Ferré arrived to the Maison Christian Dior, he was already a recognized and respected designer running his own brand in Italy.

The arrival of Ferré at Maison Dior followed bigger changes in the management and ownership of the brand itself – earlier the company was taken in control by LVMM / Bernard Arnault. During his work the Maison Christian Dior, which covers the period from 1989 to 1996, Gianfranco Ferré designed fifteen haute couture collections, giving him the chance to experiment with materials, constructions and concepts that were different from the ones he was used to in the pret-à-porter. The clear and pure lines he used gave an “architectural” feeling to his creations, confirming the reputation of Ferré as “the architect of fashion”.

Gianfranco Ferré was indeed an architect, and his drawings are of pivotal importance to understand his design method and also the process of creation that went from the idea to the actual garment shown on the catwalk.

The two sketches by Gianfranco Ferré for Christian Dior came into the Muzealne Mody collection over two years ago. They were acquired at an auction at the South of France. They were sold together, in one bid. It looked like they belong to one collection; the condition of the paper, the style of workmanship suggested that they indeed were from the same period of time. Their previous history is unknown.

Gianfranco Ferré’s sketches are created on a cardboard (H: 45 cm, W: 31 cm). The lower right corner bears the inscription: “Christian Dior Collection Haute Couture”. There is also a designer’s signature number on both sketches. However, they are undated.

The research carried out as the head of the Muzealne Mody collection confirmed that they actually were created the same year, but they belong to two different collections. The yellow-gold dress from the first sketch represents the dress from the spring-summer 1990 collection (presented in January that year), while the pink coat from the second one belongs to the July’s couture show for the fall-winter season.

Finally, it turned out that both Dior’s couture shows are represented in the EFHA database. The initial sketches and the final result on the runway are now both present at the EFHA database.