Italian Designer, Gianfranco Ferré, 62

Gianfranco Ferré, the world-renowned Italian fashion designer who recently made a splash in the jewelry industry with the creation of a $1.3 million diamond-studded top, died Sunday, a hospital reportedly said. He was 62.

Ferre oversees final preparations of diamond-studded top.

Ferré was taken to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, Italy, on Friday after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage, The Associated Press reports. The hospital, in a statement authorized by Ferré ‘s family, said he died at 9 p.m. (3 p.m. ET) Sunday.

In February, Ferré unveiled his diamond-studded top during Milan’s fashion week. The outfit used more than 900 diamonds totaling 300 cts. It was created in a joint effort with diamond company and DTC sightholder Dalumi.

The diamonds were stitched in curved horizontal rows across a sheer black vest worn by British rock singer Skin, the model for Ferré’s latest ad campaign. It was matched with black tuxedo pants and a black silk cape. It concluded Ferré’s women’s collection for Fall/Winter 2007/08. The outfit was displayed by Dalumi at major jewelry shows, including The JCK Las Vegas Show (June 1-5).

“The challenge was to find a balance between the importance and abundance of the diamonds and the sensation of lightness we wanted the design to capture above all. Furthermore the most specific—and so most interesting—aspect of the process concerned how to render/convey the utter wealth of the raw material best, how to make it become the real soul of the design, and not simply some decorative element,” he told JCK in an article that appeared in the May issue of the magazine.

Ferré started his career as an accessories and jewelry designer, and then moved on to clothes. He was unofficially known as Italy’s “architect of fashion” because of a degree in architecture he obtained in 1969 from Milan’s Polytechnic Institute that inspired his designs, the AP reports.

He started his own company in the mid-1970s, but his major leap came in 1989, when he was tapped by Bernard Arnault to be the top designer for Christian Dior, the AP reports. At the time, it was almost unheard of for a non-French designer to take the reins of the venerable Parisian house.

Ferré stayed on at Dior until the fall of 1996, when he returned to Milan to tend to his own men’s and women’s collections.

Ferré’s style was based on simple and structured lines, and the white blouse became one of his trademarks, the AP reports. His suits were used by businesswomen around the world.

For the evening, Ferré often made important dresses with ample skirts supported by layers of crinoline, the AP reports.

Ferré himself cut a unique figure, a big teddy bear of a man dressed impeccably in three-piece suits, the AP reports.

Condolences from Italy’s top designers poured in as word of his death spread, the AP reports.

Giorgio Armani reportedly said he had long admired Ferré’s artistic and intellectual work.

“When I think of Gianfranco Ferré, the idea that comes immediately to mind is the dignity, the calm, the sense of responsibility that he brought to his work,” Armani said, according to the ANSA news agency.

Donatella Versace called Ferré a man “from another time” who helped change Italian fashion, ANSA reports. “He was a great couturier who knew how to create an absolute chic with details that I will never get tired of looking at and that will remain in the history of fashion.”

Roberto Cavalli said Ferré represented “the highest level of style, of artisanship, of creativity,” the AP reports. “A true artist, pure, a beautiful person who will be missed by the whole fashion world,” he said.

In 2002, Ferré sold Gianfranco Ferré to It Holding, but he stayed on as creative director, the AP reports. His spring-summer 2008 menswear collection is scheduled to be presented next week in Milan.

Born August 15, 1944, in Legnano, in northern Italy, Ferré worked and lived in India for several years, the AP reports. His passion for travel and world cultures was often reflected in his collections.

He is survived by a brother and sister-in-law, as well as a cousin, Rita Airaghi, who served as his longtime assistant.

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