Nino Antonio Cerruti

Becoming a Professional Fashion Designer

Become a Professional Fashion Designer

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B. 1930

Birthplace: Biella, Italy

Awards: Bath Museum of Costume Award, 1978 Cutty Sark Award, 1982, 1988 Pitti Uomo Award, 1986

It has been said by many who have known him that Nino Cerruti is more businessman than designer, more manager than creative talent, more realist than innovator. But there is one area in which all agree: he is, indeed, a visionary. From the moment he took control at age twenty of his family's textile firm (founded in 1881), he foresaw what integrated operations would do for the business, and, as a result of his tremendous success, was eventually copied by many other companies. Today he rules an operation that begins in the Cerruti Brothers mills, continues with clothing design and production, and expands into fragrances and accessories, all of which are packaged and presented via sophisticated advertising and promotion. Voila! Vertical integration.

Viewed as a fashion revolutionary early in his career, Cerruti introduced his first men's ready-to-wear line, Hitman, in 1957. In 1967, he showed unisex clothing and, also that year, opened his boutique in Paris, Cerruti 1881. Ultimately, he became best known for cultivated refinement and sophistication in menswear, the result of his devotion to excellence in tailoring and his love of richly textured fabrics, and for his successful fragrances, manufactured by Elizabeth Arden.

Cerruti knew the value of publicity. He cleverly cultivated the business of actors and movie studios. Orson Welles, Jean-Paul Belmondo, and Mi chael Caine were among those who frequented his Right Bank boutique, known for its fine workmanship. Throughout the 1970s, he created film wardrobes for such actors as Yves Montand and Alain Delon. One of Cer-ruti's most enduring contributions to men's fashion has been the designs he created for the male stars in Miami Vice, the revolutionary television show of the late 1980s, which showed American men that it is acceptable to dress in brightly colored suits with t-shirts, unconstructed blazers, and sportswear in pastel shades. He went on to design costumes for Jack Nicholson's character in The Witches of Eastwick (1987); for Philadelphia (1993), the groundbreaking drama starring Tom Hanks; for Richard Gere in Pretty Woman (1990); and for Oliver Stone's film Wall Street (1987), among others.

Nino Cerruti's influence has been felt in all areas of the international fashion industry. His famous protege Giorgio Armani learned all about fabrics and manufacturing during his six years with the company, enjoying, along with his former boss, much of the praise that resulted from Cerruti's forays into film. Cerruti has continuously displayed the ability to combine the artistic with the logical, the traditional with the modern, and the historic with the technological—all of which has enabled him to maintain the success he enjoys today. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated, perhaps, the most important ingredient of all—good taste. See also: Giorgio Armani. Website:

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