Alberta Ferretti: the story


Alberta Ferretti
The story of Alberta Ferretti began in Cattolica, a small town near Rimini, where the little girl was born in 1950. Her mother, a talented dressmaker, had an atelier, and whenever Alberta wasn't exploring the gorgeous surroundings of the Emilia Romagna landscape that "felt like going on a treasure hunt", she enjoyed the quiet games of playing with fabrics and watching her mother work, arranging the layers of delicate taffeta and silk around a woman's body, pinning hems, checking the fit, making sure that the garment was perfect in every way.

Emilia Romagna
By the time she was twelve, Alberta was already learning the tricks of the trade, cutting the fabrics for the atelier and truly embracing her love of fashion so much so that by the time she was 18, Ferretti borrowed some money from her parents and opened "Jolly", a small boutique situated five miles away from Riccione, on the Adriatic Riviera, selling collections of the up-and-coming designers including Armani, Versace and Mariuccia Mandelli among others. The shop became her home housing the studio on the ground floor, an apartment on the second and the workshop - on the third. She also married and soon gave birth to two boys, Simone and Giacomo.

lberta Ferretti's homes San Giovani in Marignano & {hotel} Palazzo Viviani in Montegridolfo
Within a few short years Ferretti had everything, but "time to herself", but for Ferretti it was not just about the difficulties, but building a dream, her own fantasy, something that felt even more complete after she decided to design something of her own.

Ferretti clothes were rather unique. Light, feminine, ruched, pleated and cut on the bias, made to be wearable and inspired by her childhood memories, art and Fellini movies, they looked beautiful and felt luxurious, so  it wasn't long before her delicate creations caught attention of a sales agent  who visited Jolly in 1974 and suggested the designer sell her clothes elsewhere. And so she did, bringing the Alberta Ferretti name to the midst of the Italian fashion scene where "Made in Italy" symbolised the mark of style.

at Palazzo Donizetti Spring/Summer 1995
Milan with its biannual fashion weeks was becoming the new fashion capital attracting an international crowd of buyers and journalists hungry for the modern look and quality. Ferretti clothes turned out to be such a hit that she had to expand her business, find the space, hire more seamstresses and get ready for producing the seamlessly executed collections.

In 1980 at San Giovanni in Marignano, Alberta Ferretti and her younger brother Massimo founded AEFFE named after Ferretti's initials and started building an impressive company portfolio of contracts by signing-up an Italian designer Enrico Coveri to work for the brand, followed by Moschino (1983), Rifat Ozbek (1988), Jean-Paul Gautlier (1994), Narciso Rodriguez (1997), licensing deals with Blugirl, Cedric Charlier, Ungaro and Pollini as well Procter & Gamble for the brand's signature perfume line (2001).

Alberta Ferretti Spring 1997, Fall/Winter 1997/98, Spring 1998
Within less than a year, in October 1981, Alberta Ferretti debuted her very first season collection at Milan fashion week and by the mid-1990s her ethereal silk creations flied across the Atlantic to be sold at Bergdorf Goodman and Nieman Marcus.

Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti Fall/Winter 1997-98
They were quickly joined by the Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti (or simply Philosophy) frocks, a less expensive line introduced by Ferretti in 1984 as Ferretti Jeansphilosophy to suit the younger women with "a passion for a casual, natural style, a certain impetuosity, an arrogant freshness" and "the young in heart, the young in taste".

Linda Evangelista in Alberta Ferretti Jeansphilosophy campaign (photography: Steven Meisel)
The great success in New York meant yet another expansion of the ever-growing Ferretti empire. In 1996 she restored a town house designed by C.P.H. Gilbert in 1902 for the banker Henry Seligman and opened the showroom offering all the lines produced by AEFFE, but two years later, in spring 1998, moved Philosophy collections into a West Broadway 19th century David Ling-designed building located next door to a Rizzolli bookstore that she has "always seen in movies and photographs..."
Alberta Ferretti building on 56th street New York
The very same year the best female entrepreneur in Italy's state of Emilia Romagna and the first female member of the Foundation of the Cassa di Risparmio di Rimini received a Cavalieri del Lavoro award adding another crown jewel to her CV. In 2005 her work was recognised once again with a lifetime-achievement award that Ferretti was presented with in Rome.

What once was a small shop in a seaside town is now a collection of boutiques scattered around the world, from New York and Hollywood to the flagships in Milan, Rome, Tokyo, Taipei, Moscow and Paris, the label that includes Alberta Ferretti, Philosophy, Alberta Ferretti girls, Bridal wear, an eyewear range and the most recent Alberta Ferretti fragrance with Elizabeth Arden. This is another universe free from trends, built on one woman's love of fantasy and her idea of a dress that creates an emotional connection between a garment and a woman who wears it.

References: Albeta Ferretti: My Italy - The Independent; Alberta Ferretti - VoguepediaAlberta Ferretti (Made in Italy) by Samuele Mazza & Giusi Ferre; 100 Contemporary fashion designers by Terry Jones

Photo source: Alberta Ferretti via wannabe magazine, Emilia Romagna via How to tour Italy, Alberta Ferretti's homes San Giovani in Marignano, show room at Palazzo Donizetti & {hotel} Palazzo Viviani in Montegridolfo, Alberta Ferretti Spring/Summer 2014 via, at Palazzo Donizetti Spring/Summer 1995, Alberta Ferretti backstage at Alberta Ferretti Spring/Summer 2014 via, Alberta Ferretti Spring 1997, Fall/Winter 1997/98, Spring 1998, Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti Fall/Winter 1997-98, Linda Evangelista in Alberta Ferretti Jeansphilosophy campaign (photography: Steven Meisel), Alberta Ferretti building on 56th street New York, Alberta Ferretti campaigns 1991-1999 (photography: Steven Meisel, Paolo Roversi)


  1. What a wonderful post - I haven't read much about Alberta Ferretti's life but everything about it seems to perfectly explain the look and feel of her designs, particularly the inspiration from Fellini movies!

  2. I love Alberta Ferretti's designs, they are so beautiful and ethereal! Such a talented designer.

  3. I always love to read biographies of successful people. I find them so inspiring, especially those who started from the bottom and worked their way up.

  4. Her designs are so dreamy! I always enjoy reading a person's story and you always deliver it Natalia. Her mother was such an inspiration for her. She laid the groundwork for what she creates today. Her work speaks for itself.

  5. I Love posts like this, its always so interesting to hear how a designer label came to be and how their creative empire has grown over the years. Thanks kindly for your comment, hope your week is going well :)

  6. Amazing story, these clothes are beautiful.

  7. Great post.

  8. Admittedly, I knew nothing of her story, so it was a really interesting read! Thank you!

  9. Фантастически талантливый дизайнер с абсолютным чувстом стиля,дизайнер от Бога!
    Прекрасный пост,Наташенька,спасибо!!!:)*

  10. Thank you for sharing her story. I have admired her for years but knew so little about her. What an amazing woman! Her work speaks for itself. You feel the love in each piece.