Prato Textile Museum, 1 February 2014 – 15 June 2014
“The White Shirt According To Me. Gianfranco Ferré” – exhibition devoted to one of the great fashion talents of the modern age – opened to the public on Saturday, February 1st.
Ideated to focus attention on the designer’s exquisite sartorial poetics, this exhibition co-organized by the Prato Textile Museum Foundation and the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation and curated by Daniela Degl’Innocenti guides the visitor on a unique journey of discovery. Point of arrival: a deep understanding of the white shirt, true paradigm of the Ferré style, thanks to an itinerary that on multiple levels highlights a vision remarkably rich in innovative design elements and enthralling creative interpretations.
Shirt CANONE INVERSO, (F/W) 1986
A constant presence throughout his career, the white shirt became for the designer in the “lexicon of contemporary elegance” a supreme “hallmark” of his style. Aiming to give force to the figurative languages intrinsic to Ferré’s imaginative rethinking of the shirt, the exhibition plays evocatively with an impressive array of corollary materials: sketches and drawings, technical details, photographs, advertising and editorial images, videos and installations. The itinerary begins with a system of hanging fabric screens across which flash giant reproductions of autographed Ferré fashion drawings. All perfect expressions of his creative vision, they serve to introduce the visitor to the universe immanent to every distinct design project.
All X-RAY simulations by L.Salvini
The initial room reveals principles of construction and novel architectural elements through large photographic installations (x-ray simulations) that offer a fascinating poetic/tech slant on a selection of shirts, reasserting for each the structural shape and material substance by heightening the impact of layers and textures. The airy lightness of this immensely engaging language derives from technical research conducted jointly with the Workshop of Semi-Precious Stones in Florence and then brought to fruition by Florentine photographer Leonardo Salvini. Here it marks the first time a similar photographic expressiveness adds interpretative depth to a fashion exhibition.
Next comes the fulcrum of the exhibition. There they are, in the center of the main room: twenty-seven white shirts, a stunning sequence of sartorial masterpieces, bearing silent witness to twenty years of absolutely ingenious and peerless creativity. In chronological order, the shirts are keenly swathed in light so that they may assume varying tones of brilliant whiteness and find in shadow areas the ideal counterpoint for capturing a plastic effect. Sculpture style. Taffeta, crepe de chine, organza, satin, tulle, cottons and silks, mechanical embroidery and lace, hand stitching, components macro and micro interact in a magnificent crescendo of virtuosity and equilibrium.
Accompanying the shirts are many pertinent materials on loan from the Ferré Foundation Archive. Arranged along the sides of the room, they include technical drawings, catwalk exit sketches, advertising and editorial images, shots by world-class photographers. The original drawings are particularly interesting, for they illustrate the designer’s amazing ability to define the primigenial idea behind each creation – silhouettes, volumes, details, fabric weights and textures – in a few sharp lines. Quick, sure, succinct. Flawless.
In the final part of the exhibition a captivating presentation of video footage from the most important fashion shows (1978 to 2007) makes the shirts on display come alive. Namely, in the studied gestures and elegant motions of the runway models the shirts embody once again the pure sensibility, elegance and refinement emblematic of Gianfranco Ferré’s poetic universe.
CALICE, (F/W) 1982, ph.L. Stoppini
The exhibition catalog, a Skirà publication under the masterly art direction of Luca Stoppini (so entailing an inventive use of fresh shots of the shirts), is an outstanding book that opens with greetings from Andrea Cavicchi and Alberto Ferré, respective presidents of the two Foundations. Immediately following is an explanation of the motivations behind the exhibition, written by Filippo Guarini and Rita Airaghi. Subsequently the catalog discusses the exhibition’s themes through both an introductory essay by Daniela Degl’Innocenti and a series of articles where major figures from the realms of style, architecture and design – Quirino Conti, Anna Maria Castro, Margherita Palli, Daniela Puppa, Franco Raggi – talk in depth about the creative vision of the great architect of Italian fashion. Alessandra Arezzi Boza’s thoughts on the meaning of heritage in Ferré Foundation activities, plus some words on the Prato Textile Museum and its history, conclude the book.
SAILOR GLAM, (S/S) 1982, ph.L. Stoppini
From February to June “The White Shirt According To Me. Gianfranco Ferré” will also feature an exciting calendar of exhibition-inspired events and collateral activities, as well as didactic programs expressly for fashion students and/or for students from schools in the spheres of design, architecture and applied arts.
Students will have the opportunity to explore the exhibition contents thanks also to special multimedia tools and to workshops on Ferré’s extraordinary design vision and methodology. The latter will involve a profound analysis of key elements of his style.
THE WHITE SHIRT ACCORDING TO ME. GIANFRANCO FERRE’