MILAN (AP) — Nino Cerruti, the Italian fashion designer credited with revolutionizing menswear in the 1960s and who gave Giorgio Armani his first fashion break, has died, Italian media reported on Saturday. He was 91 years old.
Cerruti died in northwestern Italy, where his family had run a textile business since 1881, Italian news agency LaPresse reported. Italian daily Corriere reported that he had been hospitalized for hip surgery.
Cerutti inherited the family business, based in the town of Biella in the Piedmont region, at age 20 when his father died in 1950. He launched his first menswear business, Hitman, in 1957 near Milan, dedicated to creating sartorial elegance on an industrial scale. and be part of the nascent men’s ready-to-wear sector.
Armani was hired as a young talent at the Hitman factory in the mid-1960s.
Armani recalled Cerruti as a creative entrepreneur with “a sharp eye, genuine curiosity, the ability to dare,” adding that he would miss “his gentle way of being bossy, even bossy.”
“Even though our contact has dwindled over the years, I have always considered him to be one of the people who had a real and positive influence on my life,” Armani said in a statement. “From him, I learned not only the taste for sartorial softness, but also the importance of a balanced vision, as a designer and as an entrepreneur.”
In 1967, Cerruti founded the luxury men’s fashion house Cerruti 1881 in Paris, then the international fashion capital, while maintaining production in Italy. The softened silhouette, use of color and attention to both innovative design and tradition have won over customers like French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo.
Soon Cerruti was in demand in Hollywood, with his designs worn on and off screen by stars such as Michael Douglas in ‘Basic Instinct’, Richard Gere in ‘Pretty Woman’ and Tom Hanks in ‘Philadelphia’.
Cerutti also launched a line of women’s clothing as well as perfumes, watches, accessories and leather goods. He was also at one time the designer for the Ferrari Formula 1 team.
Cerruti sold the company in the early 2000s, also giving up the design role. But he never severed ties with the fashion house, even though he turned to the textile industry, taking a front row seat at Paris fashion shows.
News of his death spread through the fashion world during menswear previews at Milan Fashion Week.
Carlo Capasa, president of the Italian fashion chamber, remembers Cerruti as “a great innovator” who was also “one of the smartest men in Italy”.
“He was the first to understand the importance of creativity in men’s fashion and to give space to a young designer of immense talent like Giorgio Armani, changing the very criteria of how to dress “, said Capasa. “He was one of the first to have a strong international presence, representing to the world that unique combination of creativity and quality that has characterized and still characterizes Italian fashion.”
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