The Feminine Mystique of Alberta Ferretti
By: Jessica Michault
Alberta Ferretti is one of those warm Italian women who makes you feel like family the minute you walk in the door. The same can be said for the clothing she creates for her signature brand. They always convey a welcoming, feminine energy. When you wear one of her designs you just know it’s going to make you look, and more importantly, feel your best.
Ferretti’s goal seems to be that people remember the woman, not what she was wearing. She is all about empowering women with her designs so that they can live extraordinary lives and look fashionable doing it. In this exclusive interview, which first appeared in the pages of the 12th issue of ODDA Magazine, Ferretti opens up about her passions outside of fashion, her lifelong admiration for Franca Sozzani and what she wants her legacy to be.
Q: To someone who doesn’t know Alberta Ferretti the brand, how would you describe it?
A: Feminine, elegant, romantic, effortless, light? I dedicate this style to women so women can interpret the fashion with freedom and interpret the fluidity and the timelessness of what I do.
Q: Your collections are always so colourful and romantic and yet you always seem to be wearing neutral hues yourself, why is that?
A: In truth I am a person that loves life, I love to go out, I have a great circle of friends; But when I work I like a certain neutrality in what I’m wearing. I like to dress myself to be more invisible to a certain extent, while I work, as I am not the protagonist of my clothing. I am the person behind them and the clothing is the protagonist.
Q: What’s your design process?
A: Obviously the first step is to have ideas and a concept. The first step is also the fabrication and the materials I love, the research that goes into the choice of materials we use. And then I love to combine those materials with the human body. I like to work on the mannequin or, even better, directly on the body. I like to see the evolution, the growth of the item on the body. Its only after I have worked the fabric on the body that I truly begin the design process. Then I will do the drawing and develop the design for the pattern makers.
Q: What do you think about this current happening in fashion where we’re seeing a number of women designers coming up through the ranks to take on the top jobs and the top houses?
A: As we all know, there are endless cycles in fashion. Obviously women have more sensibility about the female body. But creativity really has no gender. It is both feminine and masculine it is up to each maison to make this choice of a designer based on the needs of their particular clientele.
Q: Last year we went to Saudi Arabia together with Franca Sozzani….
A: Franca was a great friend. She had been a friend for many many years. To a certain extent she was a mentor and a protagonist in my life. Any time she asked me to be involved in any project, it was always yes because her projects were always interesting and her challenges to me were always important and very positive.
This trip to Saudi Arabia was obviously an important project because it brought something that is considered very private in Saudi Arabia – fashion – into almost a public domain. And bringing together a very important group of European women with a group of women from Saudi Arabia was very educational.
It also creates bonds between Europe and Saudi Arabia woman. Also its important to remember that men that were hosting us were really important prestigious men and just the fact that they were hosting an initiative like this is a symbol of the women evolution within Saudi Arabia.
Q: What kind of advice as a leading woman in this industry would you give to young women designers, like those we saw in the Kingdom…or men for that matter?
A: You need a combination of characters: creativity, determination, passion and lastly, humility. Fashion is some
thing that you need to always be work on. It’s a career. It’s an everyday pursuit.
Q: You have been working in fashion for many years now. What do you see as the biggest change that has affected this industry during that time?
A: It’s a challenge working in today’s world, with its current rhythm, the velocity of collections….Above all, a factory needs to be elastic while being structured. Ready to support new initiatives yet structured in making pret-à-porter with a certain level of quality, particularly Italian pret-à-porter. That’s why we have a capsule in the Alberta Ferretti collections because we need to give that type of spirit, of innovation, we need to respond to the see now buy now market but we can’t forget the ultimate message of quality. We have to maintain a certain level of integrity. Being a small group, we can move very quickly and we were one of the first designers to adapt to the new way people like to consume fashion.
Q: You are a businesswoman with an Italian fashion empire that has a number of different brands in its Aeffe stable. What is your role in the company exactly and how do you balance it with your work for your signature brand?
A: Creativity is my number one focus. Obviously when we found Aeffe the concept was to become a network of manufacturing and distribution for a host of designers. We have adapted to the designers and adapted as a group to the market but creativity is the number one focus for me. My brother is the one who deals more with the business side of things, although I do pay attention to that too.
Q: Where do you want to take Alberta Ferretti the brand and the group?
A: For me there’s no a real defined line ahead of me. More importantly I want to move forward with the same curiosity with the same energy with the same desire to create that I had throughout my career. As for the group, we have sensitivity and an elasticity that will provide for a very positive evolution of the group. And if we continue working towards the future with the same passion and the same dedication, I think we have a long future ahead.
Q: What are you passionate about besides designing clothing?
A: That’s a difficult question because I am passionate about everything, certainly art, reading and music. I have a circle of friends and we are always up to something. Basically I am curious about everything.
Q: Many years from now, what do you want the Alberta Ferretti brand known for?
A: When I think of what my legacy will be and what I want to be remembered for, I think of femininity, of movement, of timelessness and lightness. I strive to create each season.
Q: What would be your motto?
A: You are the master of your own destiny.