He died a little over three months ago. He was 62. Larger-than-life in both size and his approach to work, Gianfranco Ferré was often referred to as the ‘Frank Lloyd Wright of’ or ‘the architect of’ Italian fashion, not just because he had received a degree in architecture in 1969, but because his design approach was so rooted in sculptural lines and artistic ideals.
His collections were always presented in theatrical fashion, framing the designer’s ideal of modern warrior woman, tall, proud and strong. Ferré said he designed clothes for "intelligent, free, strong women. Strong in their temperament, their character, their passionate side. Elegance has personality, like seduction."
Yesterday, Tonino Perna, chairman of Gianfranco Ferre' SpA, announced that young Swedish stylist Lars Nilsson is to take over the creative helm of the fashion house. "He has talent of an international level and is perfectly able to carry forward the creative evolution of the brand made immortal by Gianfranco Ferre'," said Perna.
Nilsson reportedly said he felt extremely honored to be the first designer to take over from Mr. Ferré and vowed to bring clarity and clean lines to the fashion house designs. He has the job cut out for him. Apparently the recent collection created by the interim team did not work out so well.
I liken this process of finding the right marketing fit for an organization to that of finding the right designer for a fashion house. There is just as much legacy within a mature business as there is in the style business, unless you're starting anew. In that case, remember that there are hardly any new ideas, just new implementations. As well, there is a need to propose and present something new and desirable, something that will make customers feel good about their business.
Just as there are many, many styles and fashion houses, there are many ways to create demand and go-to-market for an organization. The first step a business needs to decide is what business it is in. That is the bedrock of an organization's brand, its style.
Then brand management comes in as a constant process where activities are created to achieve distinction. Marketing manages and implements, and then measures the success so it can be used to influence future strategy. It’s a cyclical process where there’s an acceptance that to truly own a strategic position in customers’ hearts and minds, activity must be ongoing and constant.
If you're like most businesses, you are putting the finishing touches to this year and preparing for the next. What's your 2008 Spring collection?