Alberta Ferretti

Alberta-Ferretti“Italy’s quiet achiever,” as Alberta Ferretti was once called, gained worldwide fame for her light hand with pretty party dresses—but not everything is always sugar and spice in her world. “I can’t see why women cannot look delicate and act tough,” the diminutive designer said in 2009. Less publicized than her gossamer and Grecian gowns, which make regular appearances on the red carpet, is Ferretti’s formidable business acumen. She founded Aeffe, a fashion production and distribution concern, with her brother in 1980; its success helped establish the Made in Italy movement.

Ferretti spent much of her childhood in the family dressmaking shop. “I have beautiful memories of touching fabric and materials, of the seemingly huge women who used to do the fittings, of the vivacious atmosphere,” she said in 2009. Following her mother’s lead, Alberta opened her own boutique; she was only a teenager. She began creating clothes to hang alongside those made by other soon-to-be-major Italian designers, including Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace, and before long her work was noticed by an agent. She formalized her own label in 1974, and by the time she debuted on the Milan runways in the early eighties, Ferretti had become synonymous with an inimitably airy, soft femininity inured to the trends.

“My school is the world, and my teacher is the people. It is very important not to stay cloistered in the office if you want to create. We have to go out in society to understand how people live and dress in their real lives.”

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