Gianfranco Ferré and the white shirt

Designer’s works highlighted in Prato

Mary Gray
February 27, 2014

Prato’s Museo del Tessuto is currently hosting an exhibition dedicated to the work of Gianfranco Ferré, one of the most prominent fashion figures of the modern age. La Camicia Bianca Secondo Me (The White Shirt According to Me) highlights both the aesthetic and cultural significance of one of the designer’s signature garments: the white shirt.  Ferré considered these to be the best embodiment of his personal style and creative approach. Running through June 29, the exhibition features 27 works created during a 20-year period, showcased in two large rooms on the museum’s first floor.


Alongside other industry giants such as Giorgio Armani and Nino Cerruti, Ferré was one of the key players during Italian fashion’s ‘golden age,’ which extended from the 1970s to the turn of the century. But beyond simply cataloging Ferré’s standout items and placing them within their historic context, the exhibition hones in on the designer’s methodology. Curator Daniela Degli Innocenti emphasized that she sought to avoid a cut-and-dry, purely chronological approach for one that visually demonstrates the importance of shape and form. This focus is clear from the jump, as the exhibition opens with an area showing shirts in gigantically printed x-ray style photography that allow viewers to get an up-close look at the construction of each work of fashionable art.



Ferré was known for his almost architectural approach to fashion design, and nowhere was this mentality more evident than in his signature white blouses. Ferré’s fondness for the white shirt stemmed, in part, from its versatility as a wardrobe staple. Throughout his long career, he maintained that the garment could assume ‘an infinite amount of identities,’ making it possible for the woman who wore it to present herself any way she saw fit. In his own work as an artist, he saw the white blouse as a prototype to play and experiment with—a piece that could constantly be deconstructed, reimagined and reassembled.


Ferré had an immense appreciation for the history and evolution of fashion, in addition to its cultural value. Though visitors can see his varied influences and historic references, including Renaissance ruffles and Baroque decorations, Ferré’s singular reinterpretation of such classic structures is what takes center stage. The exhibition often highlights those sartorial details that can make or break a design: collars, sleeves, lapels, buttons and more. Particularly noteworthy among the blouses on display are a face-framing silk bustier and a unique ‘inside-out’ shirt.


Apart from the shirts themselves, a number of videos and technical drawings are on loan from the Ferré Foundation Archive. With some of his original outlines on display, visitors can get an idea of how his ideas took shape, from the silhouette and texture down to the tiny details. By contrast, drawings of catwalk exits and runway videos show how these ideas came to life as finished products.


The exhibition reaches out to fashion and design students with a series of educational activities, while the general public can attend free Sunday afternoon tours, as well as be engaged through a strong social media presence. Photography is encouraged in the museum, and in fact an Instagram challenge on the theme of the white shirt, in collaboration with the local Instagram group IgersPrato, will take place March 23 to April 11, 2014. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for further information.


Visitor Information / The white shirt according to me. Gianfranco Ferré / Museo del Tessuto, Via Puccetti 3, Prato 










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