Gianfranco Ferré. In another light: Jewelery and Ornaments of Turin

For Ferré, ornament has always been a passion, linked in an inseparable way to fashion collections and the result of a passionate and often innovative approach, never less than that reserved for dress. As the curator of the exhibition Francesca Alfano Miglietti emphasizes: “Ferré builds a free zone within a world of reference, processing each object in the wake of a system of general classification of concepts that become objects. And so shiny stones, enamelled metals, polished shells, painted woods, Murano glass, retro ceramics, Swarovski crystals, and even wood and leather and iron and copper and bronze, in the succession of an enchanted horizon of brooches, necklaces, belts, rings , bracelets, jewelry. For Ferré, ornament is not the lesser of a precious child, but a concept of eternity that must represent the immanence of the present “.

The exhibited objects, created for fashion shows from 1980 to 2007, are told as a complement to the dress and its accessory but are exhibited together with some garments in which it is the jewel-matter to invent and build the dress, becoming its substance and soul . Also in this case the attention of Gianfranco Ferré to the materials is crucial, as an essential part of his research.

The exhibition project – designed by architect Franco Raggi – plays on the contrast between the Senate Hall of Palazzo Madama, an environment of immense architectural merit, and the minimalist and essential iron and glass structures of the exhibition, highlighting the imaginative beauty of the jewels designed by Ferré that seem to soar in the twilight.

NOTES OF GIANFRANCO FERRÉ FROM interviews, lectures and press folders of collections
“I believe that jewelery is the most immediate element to express a desire for innate, timeless beauty, as old as the history of humanity, rooted in our sensitivity because it is able to translate emotions and sensations into reality. In the past, the jewel has had extraordinary representative values, as a symbol of wealth, power, prestige, authority. Now it is above all a manifestation of personality. It is a means for self-representation. Like the dress and perhaps more than the dress “.

“… often the jewel is a complement of the garment and its accessory, sometimes even necessary, is an effect detail. In some cases, on the other hand, it is precisely the jewel-matter that inventes and builds the garment, becoming its substance and soul “.

“In my process of creative elaboration, even when applied to the jewel-object, there is a great passion for research. It is in my nature to start from the authentic preciousness, from the timeless appeal inherent in the reverberation of noble metals, into the enchanted reflections of the hard stones, into the magical glimmers of the purest crystal. It is a declaration of love, faithful and never forgotten, for all that is written in the DNA of authentic luxury.
This is accompanied by the taste, equally innate in me, for experimentation that is expressed, for example, in the reinterpretation of ‘poor’ materials, historically alien to the culture of jewelry, such as straw, raffia, wood, leather, the network. Or materials that are children of industrial culture, like the whole range of metals – from foundry iron, copper, bronze – or Plexiglas, resin, or even glass paste.
Materials, which for me are essential to give luxury a new connotation, more articulate and fluid, more nuanced, richer and more stimulating “.

“In the jewel, a world. Or better the world. Always the object of incommensurable symbolic value, for me the jewel makes an infinite number of references, references, glances to the most diverse realities, as real as oneiric from which I draw inspiration. In this I do not feel the slightest difference between ‘dreaming’ a dress or a jewel. Because the impulse to rediscover stimuli and suggestions in an infinitely heterogeneous horizon, devoid of temporal boundaries no less than spatial, is very similar “.

Rita Airaghi – Director of the Gianfranco Ferré Foundation

The exhibition aims to offer the public, for the first time ever, the vision of a specific aspect of the creativity and planning of Gianfranco Ferré – what concerns the jewel-object – with the clear and firm intention to underline how the stylist has always reserved special attention to it, in terms of research applied both to form and to matter and in terms of inspiration, with results that are almost always innovative and surprising. Not only that: the exhibition itself aims to demonstrate how even in the design of the ornament Ferré adheres strictly and coherently to the data that make up its educational background, related to architecture and design.

A second reason should be taken into consideration that reinforces the reason for the exhibition, linked in particular and even personal terms to the intense story of Gianfranco Ferré in the universe of creation. The event aims to be a fitting tribute at the beginning of its journey, which has its first stop exactly in the ornaments, in the bijoux and in the accessories. A departure motivated more by curiosity than by a conviction already established, more by the taste of manipulating the matter than by the determination to become a stylist, only reached several years later. And we know well how this first love has become a love of ever one of the leading protagonists of contemporary luxury and style.

A love, that of Ferré, for the jewel-ornament never confined to the background, the ornament immediately enters into symbiosis with clothing, one seems not to be able to do without the other, in an intertwining impossible to loose in terms of design and inspiration, experimentation and fascination. This shows the fidelity of a passion and an interest that is expressed on the basis of two postulates, a methodological one, an aesthetic-stylistic one, well attested by the objects on show. The first: like the dress, the jewel for Gianfranco Ferré is boundless terrain of confrontation with matter – in all its innumerable identities – and of innovation, of attempts and progress in its elaboration, which make one think of the experimental method affirmed by Galilei . The second: like the dress, the jewel dresses and decorates the body, emphasizes its key points, it acts as a link between the first and the second, is linked to the physicality of the human figure, almost it was part of it.

Starting from the assumptions following which Ferré faces the jewel it is inevitable that they can give life to real clothes, built as such to cover the whole body and overlap the silhouette until it is completely sculpted. Two different objects, one shared soul. The light that ignites the pure ornament, in short, is undoubtedly the same as the jewel-dress.

Testimony then of the work method of Gianfranco Ferré, the exhibition is inserted with consistency in the exhibition planning, in the logic and in the operational choices of the Fondazione Torino Musei, a reference area to which everyone, in the territory and beyond, watch with attention and appreciation . It is a place of culture, in which even the jewelry-ornaments of the designer can find a right place and exposure.
Shiny stones, enamelled metals, polished shells, painted woods, Murano glass, retro ceramics, Swarovski crystals, and even wood and leather and iron and copper and bronze, in the succession of an enchanted horizon of necklaces, bracelets, brooches: from classic to contemporary, from tradition to invention, every jewel-object of Gianfranco Ferré must represent its own time. For Ferré, ornament is not the lesser of a precious child, but a concept of eternity that must represent the immanence of the present.

The attitude of the stylist with respect to the ornaments is typical of the “storyteller”, of the builder of charms, of the inventor of relationships. An attitude that arises in the places of the project, a way of thinking about the idea, which saw one of the first steps in the IX Triennale di Milano, in 1951, dedicated to the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, which sees for the first time, on display, the presence of the bijou. The main novelty factor of the IX Triennale is the confluence of the decorative arts towards design that represents the world of industrial production and the opening to international experiences.

The ornament of the female body, but also male, already appears in prehistoric times, up to be a recurring theme even in the texts that accompany the institutionalization of Christianity. All human groups make great use of personal ornaments of all kinds: necklaces, bracelets, earrings, ornaments for the head, made of seeds, feathers, shells, bone or ivory, stones, metals. In all cultures, the first elementary support for personal ornament forms is the body, subjected to manipulations of an aesthetic and symbolic nature. And ornaments are always considered shields and armor that perform the function of mark of honor: the helmet, the crown, the tiara, the miter, the ecclesiastical hats, the mantle, the pavilion, the crosses, the necklaces and the ribbons of the various orders of chivalry.

Gianfranco Ferré has chosen the path of the language of materials, the way of a form of creativity that chooses the ornament. Jewels-ornament, objects for the body. Decorations as an ancient ritual and perennial magic. Beauty as a value and as a rigor, in the construction of a kind of embedded signs, of fusions between body and object, a tribal and mystical encounter between light and opacity.

There is something inexpressible and irreducible in the passion of all the world’s cultures for the luminous stones and for the glitter of the facets, a conjunction between finite and infinite, in a dialogue between materials that collect and emit light and vibrations, containers of legends, sentimental encounters and stories. Objects that return the intensity of dreams, objects that conserve sunlight when the world is covered in darkness.

Gianfranco Ferré. In another light: Jewels and Ornaments
Palazzo Madama
Piazza Castello – 10122 Turin
From 12 October 2017 to 19 February 2018