Fernanda Gattinoni: A Name To Be Reckoned With
Fernanda Gattinoni was born in Lombardy region in northern Italy. At the tender age of 17, she travelled to London to learn her favourite trade at the Molineaux house. At one stage she even turned down work for Coco Chanel since she wanted to return to Italy to set up her own brand. It was in 1924, while living in London, that she began her career as a stylist in Molineaux Atelier, the first of its kind in Europe. It is from here that she learned the art of dress making. She was so fond of it that she decided to make it her career and by 1930, she had left London and returned to Italy. She was engaged as an art director together with Madame Anna, by Ventura. In 1934 a branch of Ventura was opened in Rome and Fernanda was handed over the charge, again, with Madame Anna. Her fame grew and grew. Everyone began to recognize the flair within her.
When in Italy, she moved into a collaboration with Ventura Tailors located in Milan. She quickly moved up to become the creative director there. Gattinoni was then transferred to a new location in Rome. It is here that she met Isa Miranda. The meeting brought about a lucky turn of events where the actress wanted Fernanda to design the dresses for the entire cast of her film in 1939. The film was ‘Hotel Imperial’. It was an instant hit and everybody approved of the costumes. This brought Fernanda her next success when she also designed the clothing for ‘Adventure Diamonds‘, in 1940.
By 1945 Fernanda wanted to open an atelier of her own. Since art was much related to cinema and theatre alike, many personalities from various fields came to her. They include personalities like Visconti Guttuso, Zeffirelli and many others. Fernanda’s first model, actress Clara Calami, was signed for green velvet and instantly became the star of the show. This was followed by many other famous personalities such as Anna Magnani, Lucia Bos, Rossella Falk, Alida Valli, Franca Faldini, Silvana Pampanini, Luciana Paluzzi, Giulietta Masina, Rina Morelli and Gina Lollobrigida. She soon became a familiar and sought after name to be reckoned with.
Rome had become synonymous with cinema. There were about twenty five full-time staff employed for making wedding dresses in the Gattinoni fashion house. The Persian Shah Sisters had their wedding dresses designed by the creative hands of the atelier. By 1960, Fernanda Gattinoni had created an Empire style collection that redefined her name in the entire world.
The film ‘War and peace‘ saw Audrey Hepburn dressed up by Fernanda. After this many personalities like Belinda Lee, Kim Novak, Angie Dickinson and Ivonne Sansone visited Gattinoni’s atelier. Gattinoni was welcomed by ambassadors such as Zellerbach, Clare Booth Luce, Bancher, Jackie Kennedy and Lee Reinhard.
In the mid eighties, Fernando’s son, Raniero Gattinoni, took the reins of the atelier and under his direction, they catapulted the name of Gattinoni to further heights. The ready-to-wear collections were then launched. Raniero had a degree from London University in Philosophy and Arts and with work experience at Mary Quant and Harrods, he worked as a designer until the end of seventies. Some prestigious Italian companies had their knitwear collections designed by him. In addition, in 1985, The National Chamber of Fashion invited him to join the popular and famous names that showed their collections in Piazza di Spagna. After three years, Raniero Gattinoni signed his first high fashion collection.
In 1993 the tradition of the famous atelier was carried on even after the sad demise of Raniero. The atelier was then brought under the proficient hands of Guglielmo Mariotto who was with Raniero for over 10 years. He had indeed succeeded to keep the standards of the atelier as high as it was in the beginning. Meanwhile, Fernanda Gattinoni was conferred with a great honour known as the Cavaliere del lavoro.
In June 1994, Fernanda celebrated seventy years in popular, high end fashion.
Today, the Gattinoni label is seen on many ready-to-wear ladies lines present in many countries across the world. The industry engages over 2000 people on various lines and many other activities bound to the industry by contracts. Guglielmo Mariotto designs all the products of the various lines as he heads the design section of the house. Italian and other foreign customers are presented with these exemplary collections at least twice a year. On the occasion of Paris Pret-a-Porter shows, the Gattinoni lines are displayed at Hotel Place Athenee.
In 2002, at the age of 95, the world saw the sad demise of the Italian fashion designer. She was most talked about for creating stunning and elegant dresses that were adored by Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn. Until her death, Gattinoni was involved actively in the ventures of her house of fashion. She was one among the first to be considered a costume designer in the Italian film industry during the fifties and sixties.