HomeLifestyleNino Cerruti, Designer Who Revolutionized Men's Wear, Dies at 91

Nino Cerruti, Designer Who Revolutionized Men’s Wear, Dies at 91

Mr. Cerruti was born on Sept. 25, 1930, in Biella, to Silvio Cerruti and Silvia (Tomassini) Cerruti. He is survived by his longtime companion, Sibylla Jahr; a son, Julian, and a daughter, Silvia; his brothers Alberto and Attilio, and two grandsons. His marriages to Diana Gates and Chantal Dumont ended in divorce.

Blue-eyed and well over six feet, Mr. Cerruti was always a dazzling figure, who skied and played tennis like a professional. (He made athletic wear for those sports and others, and sponsored players like Jimmy Connors.)“He’s just so gorgeous,” Elaine Kaufman, owner of Elaine’s, the celebrity canteen on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, told Margaret Muldoon, his longtime American publicist, every time he visited her restaurant, as Ms. Muldoon recalled in a phone interview.

Over the decades, Mr. Cerruti had many designers, including a young Giorgio Armani, who worked for Mr. Cerruti’s company in the 1960s. For a few years in the mid-1990s, Narciso Rodriguez was the lead designer, and notably designed Carolyn Bessette’s pearl-hued silk crepe wedding dress for her marriage to John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996.

In addition to men’s and women’s wear, Mr. Cerruti’s company had numerous licensing deals that included accessories, perfume and eyewear, and boutiques all over the world

“I like to describe my operation as a modern version of the handcraft bodegas of centuries ago,” Mr. Cerruti told Esquire magazine in 1987. “It is important to know each link in the chain. I consider myself very close to the theory of industrial design: using modern technology to reach the market. It’s a very modern challenge: the continuous harmonization between the rational or scientific world and the emotional or artistic world.”

In 1994, he was the official designer for the Formula 1 Team Ferrari. Among many awards, Mr. Cerruti was made a Cavaliere del Lavoro, or Knight of Labor, by the President of Italy, in 2000. The following year, the brand was sold in a forced takeover to Fin.part, an Italian conglomerate, which had bought 51 percent of the business the year before, and paid $67 million for the remaining shares, Women’s Wear Daily reported at the time.

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