The exhibition describes the creativity and stylistic genius of Gianfranco Ferré, the internationaly recognized fashion designer, through the iconic garment of his production: the white shirt.


The exhibition, promoted by the City of Milan – Department for Work Policy, Fashion and Design and Department of Culture – is organized and produced by the Royal Palace and the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation jointly with the Prato Textile Museum. It is curated by Daniela Degl’Innocenti and devoted to the talents of one of the most illustrious names in international fashion of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.


Conceived to showcase the creative and sartorial poetics of Gianfranco Ferré’s work, the exhibition uses various art forms to guide the visitor on a discovery of the white shirt – authentic paradigm of his style – highlighting the most innovative design elements and deeply fascinating interpretations. A constant presence and major theme throughout Ferré’s career, the white shirt became for the designer a “hallmark of (his) style” and a “contemporary lexicon of elegance.


The 27 shirts are displayed along with original sketches, illustrations and videos.



“Talking about my white shirts is all too easy. It’s all too easy to declare a love that covers the span of my creative path. A hallmark – perhaps the ultimate signature – of my style, which enfolds a constant pursuit of innovation and a no less unfailing love of tradition.

Story in motion. Tradition in the form of the men’s shirt, ever-present and encoded element of the wardrobe. That tickled my fancy for invention, incited my propensity for rethinking the tenets of elegance and style in an interplay of pure fantasy and contemporary design.

Read with sense of glamour and poetry, freedom and energy, the formal and quasi-immutable white shirt took on an infinity of identities, a multiplicity of inflections. To the point of becoming, I believe, a must of modern-day femininity…


This process always entails a keen rethinking of shapes. The white blouse is never the same yet always unmistakable. It may be light and floaty, flawlessly severe (if a mannish cut remains), as sumptuously enveloping as a cloud, as skinny and snug as a bodysuit. Some parts, primarily collar and cuffs, can become emphatic; others expressly lose ‘force’ and may even disappear (back, shoulders, sleeves).

The blouse comes with precious lace and embroidery; turns sexy thanks to the use of sheer fabrics; acquires ultra importance with gorgeous ruffles and ruches. It billows delicately with every motion, almost free of gravity. It frames the face like a fabulous corolla. It sculpts the body in a slick second-skin mode. It is the eclectic interpreter of all types of materials: sheer organza, crisp taffeta, glossy satin. Duchesse, poplin, chiffon, georgette, too…”


Gianfranco Ferré, notes



Gianfranco Ferré was born in Legnano (Milan) on August 15, 1944. After earning his high school diploma specializing in sciences, he enrolled in the School of Architecture at the Milan Polytechnic Institute where he graduated in 1969.
His very first, quite off-hand entry into the world of fashion took place in the same years. Ferré designed jewelry and accessories that he would then give to friends and classmates.
In 1973 Ferré made the first of his many trips to India where up until 1977 he spent long periods.
India has represent a fundamental experience in the development of his style. In May of 1978 the Gianfranco Ferré company was set up and in October of the same year the first woman prêt-à-porter collection debuts on the runways. In addition to the launch of the men’s clothing line in 1982 and to the introduction of a wide range of accessories and other products on license in 1986 he entered the Alta Moda world with fashion shows for six seasons in Rome.

In 1983, he helped to develop the curriculum for Domus Academy, the new Design Management and Fashion Design Post-graduate School where up until 1989 he taught the course in Dress Design.
In May of 1989, Gianfranco Ferré was appointed Artistic Director of Christian Dior, one of the finest and most storied of French fashion houses, for the women’s Haute Couture, Prêt à Porter and Fourrure lines. In 2002, the Gianfranco Ferré Company was acquired by IT Holding Group.
Gianfranco Ferré became Artistic Director of the house.
In March of 2007, Gianfranco Ferré was appointed President of the Brera Fine Arts Academy in Milan.
After suffering a brain hemorrhage, Gianfranco Ferré died in Milan on June 17, 2007.



In perfect harmony with the exhibition concept, the volume, published by Skira, suggests numerous elements that aid the understanding of the white shirt and of Gianfranco Ferré’s creative vision.


Inside the catalog: contributions and insights from major figures from the realms of style, architecture and design; an outstanding sequence of photographic images by Luca Stoppini and one of x-ray simulations by Luca Salvini, the result of technical research in partnership with the Opificio delle Pietre Dure of Florence; originals drawings and scketches by Ginfranco Ferré and photos from catwalks. An integral part of the book are the 27 technical files, one for every shirt, by Daniela Degl’Innocenti, the Textile Museum’s curator.

La camicia bianca secondo me. Gianfranco Ferré

a cura di Rita Airaghi
direzione artistica di Luca Stoppini
Skira Editore
2014, edizione bilingue (italiano-inglese)
16,5 x 30 cm, 330 pagine, 97 colori, brossura
ISBN 978-88-572-2332-2

“In the lexicon of contemporary elegance,
I like to think that the white shirt is a universal term
that each woman may ‘pronounce’ as she prefers…

Gianfranco Ferré