Ferre’s Elegant Fashions Carry the Day

As fall collections continued here, Gianfranco Ferre triumphed with a strong, sure show; Genny hung in there and Fendi faltered with a few great ideas strung out over too long a time.

Ferre’s early training as an architect used to make his clothes look like superstructures imposed on a body. Not any more. This season, even when encased in a voluminous coat, the figure beneath has small shoulders and a curved hipline shown off beautifully in pleated pants or narrow skirts that always stop just above the knee.

Ferre does not confuse his customers with a lot of options: there are one skirt length and two pant silhouettes, one slightly narrower than the other. Coats are to the knee or to the ankle. And, as always, he offers sensational sweaters and blouses.

It’s all put together with fabrics and colors that add up to totally modern luxury; a look that obviously costs a lot, but doesn’t flaunt the fact. A long, ivory cashmere hooded cardigan and pullover are shown with elegant ivory cashmere pants. The cardigan is cuffed to the elbows in lynx. Equally glamorous is the red cashmere evening sweater and pants outfit, with much of the sweater back sliced away to reveal bare skin.


One of the themes of this collection is what Ferre calls his “imaginary zoo.” Fabrics look like zebra, elephant or reptile, with fake crocodile showing up in every texture from stamped leather to organdy. The knockout is a speckled ivory and black tweed suit with a jacket in reptile-printed wool.

One of Ferre’s strongest subjects is coats. His ankle-length, cognac iridescent taffeta has a drawstring waist. Alpaca styles are often collared or cuffed with ruffs of ostrich feathers, or point d’esprit scarfs.

Browns, (cocoa, bitter chocolate, tobacco, cognac) were mixed with ivory and off-white and flamed with several shades of red.

Owner Donatella Girombelli took a bow at the end of the Genny show, but everyone knows the collection is more or less designed by Gianni Versace. Girombelli’s group manufactures Genny, Byblos and Christian Lacroix ready-to-wear.


As everywhere else this season, coats in strong colors were the strong point. Models wearing chartreuse, magenta, flame, peacock and hot mustard flyaway coats moved down the runway enveloped in hoods or big shawl collars, all shown over narrow black wool jersey leggings and black turtlenecks. For evening, some great tuxedo looks and curvy black crepe dresses framing beaded bras with satin shawl collars.

Versace has been the design input at Genny for more than 16 years. Starting next fall he will join the ever-growing rank of designers producing a lower-priced line, much like Giorgio Armani’s Emporio Armani, Ferre’s Studio 001 and, as of next season, Valentino’s Oliver.

Versace said his line will be “very young and modern” so that younger people can afford it.

Retailers here welcome this new awareness of price on the part of designers, especially since many are privately saying that nothing at the high end of the design spectrum is new enough to make customers want to rush out and spend money.

At Fendi, aware of the ever growing backlash against wearing fur, everything was done to make those Fendi furs look not like furs. Most were reversed to show the skin side out, or were rolled-up and zipped into what looked like airline carry-on bags. Unzipped, the bags indeed became fur coats.

Shapes looked like monks’ robes, free-floating over ribbed wool tunics with leggings and low suede booties. The look worked for some of the less expensive furs, such as mole. But as one observer commented: “If I’m paying for sable or chinchilla, I expect the coat to be lined.”

The collections continue with Giorgio Armani showing Wednesday night.