What the “most stylish man in Italy” brought to fashion

Nino Cerruti, who passed away on Saturday, was the master of relaxed refinement. If Cerruti is a global brand, which also sells perfumes, leather goods, watches, jewelry, eyewear, ties, scarves, shoes, writing instruments, underwear, socks, pajamas and homewear, it all started with a designer, a weaving wizard. , who has written the history of Made in Italy fashion for the last seventy years. Following a simple rule, “clothes are our second skin and must be in harmony with the body, being beautiful and of high quality: I have never believed in artistic ugliness”, he liked to say. A retrospective of the contribution of “Italy’s most stylish man” to fashion.

Innovation for new yarns and fabrics

Born on September 25, 1930 in Biella, Italy, Nino Cerruti dreamed of becoming a journalist. However, he abandoned his philosophy studies in 1950, aged only twenty, to take over Lanificio Cerruti, the family spinning and weaving factory, Lanificio Fratelli Cerruti, founded by his grandfather in 1881.

Installed in Biella, Italy, at the foot of the Alps, the spinning mill takes advantage of the exceptional purity of the water that allows it to wash and dye wool from Italy or Australia or cashmere from Mongolia, reworked to create fabrics such as flannel, tweed, cashmere or wool.

At the head of the spinning mill, he reveals his talent as a creator and business leader. Nino Cerruti is convinced that true elegance lies in clothes that make you feel comfortable.

Under his leadership, La Lainière Piemontaise became a research laboratory that multiplied technical innovations to create new yarns and fabrics – increasingly fine, robust and precious – such as the super 100 (1 kg of wool for 100 km of yarn), followed by the super 120, 150, 180 and even 210! Even today, Cerruti fabrics are made in these workshops.

“My family has been in the fabric business since the early 19th century and I took over the business shortly after I started designing. Since then, we have seen an evolution towards more comfortable clothing, an evolution that corresponds to changes in our lifestyles and in our social behavior”, he explained in April 2004 to our colleagues at the Italian edition ofThe Official.

A “casual chic” men’s wardrobe

Nino Cerruti invests in two Milanese factories to produce his first men’s lines. In 1957, he opened the Hitman boutique in Milan, where his first men’s ready-to-wear collection was sold – mainly ultra-luxurious soft suits, in 1962 he founded the Flying Cross brand with Osvaldo Testa.

His credo: rhyming elegance and relaxation. The “casual chic” was born, a combination of the Neapolitan tailoring tradition, sportswear elements and luxurious yet comfortable fabrics.

The “deconstructed jacket”, the centerpiece of “casual chic”

Nino Cerruti is considered to be the first to create the deconstructed jacket for men. A lightweight, flowy jacket that dispenses with traditional tailoring interfacing, with minimal fabric just on the shoulders and nothing else, making the jacket as flexible and light as a shirt that you no longer know if it’s at the door or not. .

A style of jacket that would be popularized by Richard Gere in American Gigolo in 1980 and Don Johnson in Miami Vice between 1984 and 1989, both worn by Giorgio Armani.

In the 1960s, Nino Cerruti met the latter, who was then a window set designer at the Milanese department store La Rinascente, and named him a menswear stylist. Nino Cerruti supplies fabrics and clothes, and Giorgio Armani does everything his way and invents a “stylist” profession. A banality today, then unheard of, that makes the duo’s success.

Stars showing a lifestyle

Jean-Paul Belmondo in a three-piece striped suit in Borsalino (1970), Kathleen Turner bewitched in her stunning open-back dress in The Nile Diamond (1986), Jack Nicholson in a pink linen jacket in The Eastwick Witches (1987), Richard Gere in Pretty Woman (1990), Sharon Stone in a nightgown in chip (1993) or even Tom Hanks in Philadelphia (1994)… The Cerruti collections marked both the minds and the film. “

Films and television are incredible ways to communicate (…). By what other means can you influence the minds and attitudes of so many people? “, he says in the columns of Figaro in 2020.

In 1958, the young entrepreneur had the idea of ​​launching a new oil blue fabric, to join forces with Lancia. It has twelve blue-painted cars that will take Rome’s famous Via Veneto, first driven by Anita Ekberg. Nino Cerruti understood that he was not selling clothes, but a way of life, the Sweet life.

Its first store Cerruti 1881, which sells its line of luxury ready-to-wear for men, located at number 3, place de la Madeleine in Paris, has been, since its opening in 1967, the privileged meeting point for people from New Wave, at the forefront of which Jean-Paul Belmondo and Alain Delon push the door.

The world of sport also attracts him, mainly because of the search for high-performance fabrics. When he launched his sports line in the early 1980s, the designer sponsored world-famous athletes such as American tennis player Jimmy Connors and Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark. In 1994, he became the official designer of the Ferrari Formula 1 team, satisfying his passion for the image linked to the figure of the driver, which had always fascinated him.

The forerunner of the “gender fluid”

From the end of the 1960s, in his mono-brand store Cerruti 1881, designed by renowned architect Vico Magistretti with a totally innovative concept, the men’s collections were displayed alongside the women’s collections, something never seen before.

“It is very interesting to see how the men’s wardrobe is getting closer and closer to the women’s wardrobe”, he underlines in The Official Italian version in the early 2000s. In 1968, it offers a unisex, functional and interchangeable collection, and invites women to delve into the men’s wardrobe to change trench coats, ties, cardigans or jersey sets.

Nino Cerruti stands out as an innovative stylist who parades men and women in the same clothes on the catwalks. Women, including Coco Chanel, loved the designer’s bold choice to dress them in pants, at a time when pants were still considered outrageous. Nino Cerruti contributed to the emergence of what is called gender fluidity, a fluidity between the codes of masculine and feminine that is more current than ever.

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