10 Magazine


Massimiliano Giornetti, the creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo, first came to London when he was 12. Alone. Or, as he puts it: “I was together with others, but not with my family. It was not like family travel. The liaison between the city and me has lasted a long time, and I really love it. It’s the only place where I would love to live outside of Italy.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “That’s great. Do you visit London often?”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “I try to as much as I can. Sometimes even for just a few days, like a weekend. It’s always so energetic and interesting. In a way, it has a culture that is made up of a mix of many other cultures, so I can really see and experience a variety of different views in terms of colours, ideas, points of view. It’s really beautiful, and what I also really appreciate is how you succeed in keeping traditions alive, yet are so modern at the same time.

“To be honest, the places I love most in London are the most classic – restaurants and hotels and such like – because you still have the idea of high quality, and at the same time in a year, in the moment where everything is going so fast, I find it so fascinating that you are… You keep tradition alive. It’s very important. It’s our culture. Of course, I love the future. I’m a very technological person, so it’s interesting that you can keep and preserve the past, maintain the link – the bridge – between the past and the future so easily.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “So, let’s start at the beginning, because I want to know everything about you. Where were you born?”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “I was born 41 years ago in Carrara. It’s a small city. It’s famous for its white marble. It’s in Tuscany. And I think that the marble [heritage] and the idea of many artists working and co-operating with the academy that we have in Carrara, in a way, made it very easy for me to be confident with the idea of art, figures and the culture. This is a small city. It’s a city very close to the seaside, and water is a very important element in my life. And I think all those ideas, really, in a way contributed to my background.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “Did you go to art school there?”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “I went to the high school there. When I finished school, I moved first to Venice, and from Venice to Florence. In a way I can say that my second home is now Florence, because I’ve been living there for 20 years.” 


MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “So it’s quite a long time. I really feel that’s the second part of who I am. Because the first part, of course, was Carrara, my family, marble, the seaside, in a way, while the other side is more Florence and the Florentine culture.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “How did you know that you wanted to be a designer? Have you always wanted to design?”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “I was very young. I was seven years old. I was – even when I was younger – very attracted to the idea of beauty, a certain quality. My mother was driven crazy by me because I didn’t want her to wear jeans.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “So you dressed her?”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “Yes. I told her a woman cannot wear jeans. Now, of course, there’s a different mentality, but when I was younger I was a little bit [strict] about that kind of thing. It was the 1980s and, for me, the reference was seeing magazines from the other side, TV from the other side. The female figure was much more glamorous, especially in the 1980s.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “Bigger hair, smaller dresses, big earrings.”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “High heels, the pumps, the make-up, the jewellery. And it was interesting that, really, from that moment I started sketching and designing. But to be honest, it was not the idea of being a fashion designer [that appealed to me]. I was attracted even by interiors, architecture – in fact, within my family everyone thought that I was going to study architecture at university. I think that the big explosion, in terms of desire to study fashion – the biggest sign – came when I was at high school. At that moment I was really conscious that my life was going to be about fashion.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “Not architecture.”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “No. Even though I appreciate it, love it very much. However, I have to say I’m more attracted to the idea of interiors than architecture – the idea of interiors, it’s something that’s very… It was always stimulating my creativity. When I see colours and the play that happens with different fabrics I find it quite similar, in a way, to the idea of fashion. An architect needs many more skills and knowledge, in a way.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “It’s more mathematical. It’s harder.”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “Yeah, it is harder.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “It takes longer. Do you still sketch?”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “I started sketching when I was very young. For me the idea of sketching is just related to the idea of memory. It’s like the idea of printing, in a way, my memory into the paper, but I prefer much more to work on a mannequin. The human figure is 3-D and sketching for me is not enough to translate an idea or a concept. It’s interesting. It’s like a rough idea, but then I need to develop much more on the mannequin, the 3-D shape – it’s much more interesting.

“I think it’s something that I really appreciate and probably comes from how I grew up and especially studying and then working in Florence. The idea of the human figure is so connected with Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance study of the human body, even the paintings. I strongly believe in that nowadays. It’s not just because I want to be like a couturier, it’s completely not that – even when I started working in fashion, working for an haute couture brand. But on the other hand, because the human body is 3-D, I discover in terms of construction and deconstruction what’s smarter, more clever, on the mannequin, more so than just sketching.” 

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “How did you start working for Ferragamo? You’ve been there over 10 years now, haven’t you?”


NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “That’s a long time.”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “It is a long time. It’s a long-term relationship. We are very loyal to each other. It’s like a marriage, in a way. It happened completely by chance. I was working in womenswear, haute couture, and they offered me a position in menswear – knitwear, to be specific. Menswear was something that was very attractive to me, especially the idea of tailoring.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “And you can wear it.”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “That’s a plus. I found the idea of tailoring really inspiring and a big challenge, especially as I approached fashion after my university degree, so compared with my colleagues, I was, at the time, a late starter. And faced with other people telling me I was crazy because I was probably heading on a path that would not lead back to womenswear. But I was quite confident, in a sense, as even at school what fascinated me most was the idea of learning – the idea of not just designing, but learning – and I found out during that time that knitwear, and especially menswear, was an especially good fit for me. I think that, if you can design menswear, you can design almost anything, because the space in menswear is so small – even the mentality, the approach, the attitude of the male consumer is so different in comparison with women. It works on very small and very few details. And I like challenges in life, so it was interesting. I really think I learned a lot from my menswear experience.”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “Do you prefer menswear or womenswear? Which do you find easier?”

MASSIMILIANO GIORNETTI: “They’re completely different. When it comes to being easier, I think that womenswear is. The mental approach of women is much more open-minded. You are much more open-minded about every single thing, so in a way you can completely change and evolve – in terms of colour, silhouette – every season. Menswear is much more static. Of course, if we analyse the past 10 years of fashion in terms of menswear we have seen a big evolution, the infiltration of sportswear into the business and a more casual side. Technical fabrics. But with womenswear it’s like completely reinventing the silhouette every season. Plus the idea of accessories is so strong in the male wardrobe, in that a strong accessory can completely invent or reinvent an outfit, so in a way I find womenswear to be much easier.

“When talking about what I prefer, I cannot say that it’s the same, but I like designing menswear because it’s my culture, it’s my side, and I can try on everything. I can understand sometimes when something is wrong and why it’s wrong. On the other hand, womenswear is very ‘pop’ and energetic, so every season it’s about giving you a new energy. I tend not to mix the menswear and womenswear, even if that was what people were expecting from me – from the very first womenswear collection. I mean, working for such a long time in menswear, probably everyone was expecting me to use the same details, experience in both, and I do and I don’t. From the menswear I really use the idea of constructing to sometimes deconstruct. From the other side, from the men’s culture, I’m sometimes bringing an effective and very efficient approach to fashion. That’s the reason I love the idea of outerwear and sportswear so much, because I like to see beautiful women well dressed but active. Real.

“People move, they travel, they work. It’s the reason why when people ask me about my muse, it’s very difficult to say, because most of the time when we are talking about a muse you just see one of the faces of the girl, of the man, that’s probably a red-carpet vision, in beautiful, special, longer dresses. But for me what’s much more inspirational is real life and people. What they use when they are travelling, or working, and observing people in airports, in a restaurant. I always love to do that because that’s real life, and in a way, the final test and result for a designer is when you see your clothes… ”

NATALIE DEMBINSKA: “Worn by somebody on the street? On a plane?”



by Natalie Dembinska