The strength of the bond that unites the fashion house to its founder, Fernanda Gattinoni, has been the same since 1946, making the brand a leading name in international fashion. Born in Cocquio- Trevisago (Varese) September 20, 1906, she was a woman of natural elegance. Her extreme refinement allowed her to design silk, bustiers, trains and embroideries, creating garments of pure perfection. In 1925, aged just 19, her talent had already made her a promising talent of the London fashion house Molyneux, a royal household brand. Her inability to keep clothes and emotions separate, being guided by her feelings, had caused her to give up a post in Paris with Coco Chanel, in order to return to Italy to work for the Ventura fashion house, in Milan and then Rome. In was at that time that the famous couturière became renowned for solving the most famous “sartorial drama” in history. At St. Peter’s Basilica on 8 January 1930, ten minutes before the ceremony, she substituted the sleeves of the lace dress belonging to Belgian princess Marie José Saxe Coburg Gotha – who was about to marry the future King of Italy, Umberto di Savoia – with long white kid gloves.
In 1946 her dream of opening her own atelier in the capital came to pass, and the atelier immediately attracted film stars and the international jet set. The first ever garment with the Gattinoni label was a green velvet suit, made for Clara Calamai, star of 1950s Italian cinema. Some of the world’s most beautiful and mysterious women have entrusted themselves to the genius and delicacy of “Madame” Gattinoni, (as everyone called her): Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Kim Novak, Lucia Bosè, Ava Gardner, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, Anna Magnani, Gina Lollobrigida, Anna Maria Pierangeli, Isa Miranda, Lana Turner, Maria José and many more. An endless production line of dream, haute couture clothes: bustiers, tapered waistlines, flared skirts, and empire silhouette dresses. Fernanda Gattinoni was a woman of another time; and one awarded numerous prizes both in Italy and abroad for her tireless efforts during her long career in the field of fashion and society.
It may be that my clothes seem too simple for a fashion show, but it is because of their simplicity that they remain up to date in the long term. A dress is chic when people turn to look at it. It must pass unnoticed, and only after being viewed three times should it seem striking. The first time, they’ll think: “it’s pretty,” the second: “it’s really pretty,” the third: “how wonderful!”
There are some indispensable rules. I’ve struggled my whole lifetime teaching women that transparency is useless: that it arouses but does not conquer. These poor men nowadays: what mystery is there left to be revealed?
The atelier on Via Tuscany grew and expanded in second half of the 1980s thanks to the creations of Fernanda Gattinoni’s son, Raniero, who provided the company with a major turning point in taking the first steps towards globalising the brand. The so-called “dream designer”, he was the author of significant pages in the history of the Italian look, thus entering the sartorial Who’s Who? as of right, as a creator who loved to transfer his dreams into his creations. Raniero said that he started designing clothes as a joke. In the 1980s he began to create his own personal style of fashion: sometimes geometric, sometimes ornate, like embarking on a journey into the world of fantasy. And the playful aspect of his collections was always at the fore: the Little Match Girl, the Snow Queen, Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland were the protagonists of his fashion shows.