A Diamond-Studded Tribute to Fashion

Milan Fashion Week, an event firmly associated with glitz and glamour, became downright dazzling as a $1.3 million diamond-studded top graced the runway during the event’s final day.

The outfit, which used more than 900 diamonds totaling 300 cts., was created by world-renowned fashion designer Gianfranco Ferré 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 deal to jointly create a garment out of diamonds was signed Dec. 22, 2006, and work began almost immediately, according to interviews with Ferré and Yuval Kemp, Dalumi’s director of marketing and business development, prior to the Feb. 23 unveiling. They stressed that it was a joint effort in every way. “The beauty of this project is that there is not a proper leader,” Kemp said. “It is just a great collaboration where Dalumi had the first idea and Ferré decided to take it forward enthusiastically. … Each of us has joined the project bringing its own expertise, and I believe this will be the secret of the successful partnership.”

Ferré said the process wasn’t much different from how he normally works, with one exception. “The process to realize this item differed only in part with respect to what I would normally do as a designer,” Ferré told JCK. “What determines the difference … is clearly the exceptional preciousness of the raw material—the diamonds.”

According to Ferré, how the diamonds would be used in relation to his fall and winter collection, which he reportedly described as a journey from androgyny to femininity, was not immediately decided. “At the very core of the entire project are the usual steps we use for any other model: first and foremost, the study, design, and elaboration of the item’s structure and shape, thus of the cuts, constructions, and proportions defining it,” he said. “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.”

They collaborated on the types of diamonds that were used. “The diamonds supplied by Dalumi have been based on our input, as we were looking for the most suitable diamonds,” Ferré said.

They chose to go with diamonds of G color and VS and higher clarity, Kemp said. Once the diamonds were chosen, they were set in white-gold studs and sent to Ferré.

“The creative process took place totally in-house—in our design studio as to the garment’s conceptualization and definition, then in the dress workshop for the making,” Ferré said. “We decided to entrust the item’s realization to an expressly small team of individuals who would concentrate exclusively on our ‘diamond item,’ whilst other people work to prepare the rest of the collection. I supervised the project head personally.”

The job of hand-sewing each diamond onto the fabric was left to a single person, “with an expertise to be found today only in the finest of haute couture ateliers,” Ferré said.

A Dalumi spokeswoman said the choice of Skin to model the outfit was a last-minute decision. But Ferré said that prior to the runway show he did have an idea of who would model the outfit. “While the item comes in the standard sample-collection size, right from the start we thought also in terms of the measurements of the particular model or celebrity who’d be presenting it on the runway,” he told JCK.

Skin wore the outfit at the finale of a runway show that was lauded for its masculine-tailored pants, skirts, and suit tops contrasted with wide flowing blouses, sweaters, and coats.

Ferré says the top won’t be reproduced, but it will have a life beyond the runway. It will be displayed and worn on occasion, and if someone wants it badly enough, it could be sold. “It will go on display at our company headquarters during the course of major communication events and business occasions (including sales campaigns),” Ferré said. “We’re also planning to present it at leading industry trade shows. There’s a very good chance of prominent personalities or Gianfranco Ferré spokesmodels appearing in it.”

Ferré was asked what kind of woman would wear such an elaborate, expensive outfit. “That’s simple,” he replied. “The Ferré woman. Namely, a woman who loves luxury for the values that matter most in this sphere: utmost excellence and contemporary impact and allure.”

He added that diamonds, while expensive and luxurious, can be worn for all types of occasions. “I haven’t the least doubt: The diamond has a place in everyday life, obviously, as long as there is no loss of style, no pointless ostentation,” he said. “In my opinion, the diamond has all the natural allure and personality necessary for always making the difference, for adding a truly special touch. Even in the case of a simple white shirt and pair of jeans.”