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Menswear Pioneer Nino Cerruti Has Died at 91

The Italian designer, a mentor to Giorgio Armani, brought the idea of ‘casual chic’ to men’s fashion.
Italian menswear designer Nino Cerruti died on Saturday at age 91.
Italian menswear designer Nino Cerruti died on Saturday at age 91. (Getty Images)

Nino Cerruti, a fashion pioneer who softened men’s tailoring and mentored Giorgio Armani, has died at the age of 91. His Cerruti 1881 label was popular in Hollywood, on and off the screen, throughout the 1980s and 1990s. News of his death was first reported in the Italian media.

Cerruti began his career in fashion after inheriting his family’s textile company in northwestern Italy. He launched his first menswear brand, Hitman, in 1957 and, later, hired a young Giorgio Armani to work at its factory, giving him his first big break.

“Even if our contacts thinned with the years, I have always considered him one of the people who has had a real and positive influence on my life,’’ Armani said in a statement quoted by the Associated Press. “From him, I learned not only the taste for sartorial softness, but also the importance of a well-rounded vision, as a designer and as an entrepreneur.”

Cerruti launched his second luxury label, Cerruti 1881, in 1967. The brand was a favourite among Hollywood actors like Richard Gere and Tom Hanks. But Cerruti sold a controlling share in the company in 2000 to Italian industrial group Fin.Part, which took full control of the label a year later, in order to focus on the family textile business founded by his grandfather.

“Nino Cerruti was a master of witty, subtle understatement; a gentleman who truly enjoyed the daily performance of dressing,” said Italian fashion critic Angelo Flaccavento. “Cerruti came from generations of fabric-makers, and had such respect for clothing precisely because he respected fabric first and foremost.”

“Nino Cerruti was undoubtedly a creative genius, a passionate man with an extraordinary eye, but also a great entrepreneur,” said Ralph Toledano, president of France’s Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode. “Nino Cerruti introduced the notion of ‘casual chic’ into fashion and men’s clothing, and was himself a man of rare elegance.”

“Nino has been one of the first in our industry to have a strong international dimension, representing to the world that unique combination of creativity and quality that has characterised and still characterises Italian fashion,” said Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana. “He has been the first to understand the importance of creativity in men’s fashion, to change the very criteria of dressing and to give space to a young designer of immense talent like Giorgio Armani.”

Plans for a ceremony will be announced in the coming days, said a spokesperson for Cerruti 1881.

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