The Alchemist of Fashion Show Unveils Gianfranco Ferré’s Wunderkammer

Understanding the complex universe of a great designer such as the Italian couturier Gianfranco Ferré is not easy, but aspiring talents can make it easier by observing with attentive and curious eyes. We are confident that the Maestro would approved.


By Guia Rossi. Cover image: The Alchemist of Fashion. Unveiling the Formula of Gianfranco Ferré. Preview of the work-in-progress set-up at WP Relais LOFT. Photos: Nikola Tomova.

Istituto Marangoni Firenze, together with WP Archivio, collaborated on an exhibition titled The Alchemist of Fashion. Unveiling the Formula of Gianfranco Ferré, which will be showcased in Florence the hot week of the 104th edition of Pitti Immagine Uomo.
The event promises to be one of the most interesting exhibition projects and a unique opportunity for Master’s students in Art Management and Curating Art and Fashion at Istituto Marangoni Firenze to explore iconic garments and previously unseen objects from the Ferrè historical archive.
The Bologna-based group acquired the archive in 2014, representing a lesser-known side of the reserved couturier from Legnano.

“When I design, I don’t think of a specific outfit. I think rather of an attitude. To a way of moving, to ideas in motion.”
– Gianfranco Ferré

Why Gianfranco Ferré’s exhibition in Florence is a must-see project

The students learned about both the architect and designer, as well as the behind-the-scenes of his work and the ideas that influenced him. They gained insight into Ferré’s creative process by examining over 5500 books, including volumes on art, history, photography, costume and fashion and a collection of Polaroids taken throughout his career.
The exhibition takes place in two venues – the WP Store in Florence on Via della Vigna Nuova and a historical Florentine residence above the store named WP Relais LOFT. It is divided into five thematic areas that have marked Gianfranco Ferrè’s artistic production.
Upon entering, visitors will see a reproduction of the designer’s studio, resembling a 16th-century craftsman’s workshop with a cosy, intimate atmosphere.
Here fabrics, mannequins, unfinished clothes and memorabilia from all over the world are crowded on the work table, creating an authentic Wunderkammer restitution.

The Alchemist of Fashion. Unveiling the Formula of Gianfranco Ferré. Preview of the work-in-progress vitrine at WP Store. Photo: Nikola Tomova.

Discovering Gianfranco Ferré’s Wunderkammer is an amazing experience, complete with a precious music playlist filled out by his long-time collaborator Matteo Ceccarini. The journey includes visiting the ELEMENTS room with naturalia and botanic-inspired elements; the MEDIOEVO area from which Ferré took metallic knitwear (cotta) to adapt it to the female body; VOYAGE, a space filled with objects and suggestions from his countless trips to the East that stimulated the designer’s love of colours; and finally ARCHITECTURE RUNWAY, which features mannequins wearing clothes with plastic volumes reflecting Gianfranco Ferré’s background as an architect. Come in – the door is open.

The exhibition is open to the public from June 13 to 16 at the WP Store on 75/R, Via della Vigna Nuova, and WP Relais LOFT on 17, Via della Vigna Nuova, Florence.

Guia Rossi is a fashion and design journalist.
Nikola Tomova is postgraduate student in Master Curating Art & Fashion at Istituto Marangoni Firenze.

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