|DALLAS, Mar 17, 2001 (Updated Oct 27, 2009) / FW/ —The House of Cerruti has over 100 years of history. Founded in 1881 by Antonio Cerruti as a textile mill (Lanificio Felli Cerruti), the reigns of the company was handed to Nino Cerruti when he was only 20 years old due to the untimely death of his father.
The young Cerruti improved the textile mills first, and then in 1957 launched the Hitman menswear label as a ready-to-wear collection, the first time ever that a textile mill had an its own in-house label.
That was a revolutionary move during the 1950s, when manufacturing and designing/making clothes were separate businesses. Eventually called a vertical operation (manufacturer and design house at the same time) Nino Cerruti’s business model was eventually adapted by other textile mills and raw materials producers.
Nino Cerruti was both a businessman and a designer. In 1964-1970 already, Giorgio Armani – who was to found his own eponymous fashion empire in 1974 – had worked for Cerruti at Hitman. But Nino Cerruti had always been the chief designer.
The Cerruti Menswear line was launched in 1967, then the Cerruti Womenswear in 1977. The 1980s and 1990s saw the diversification and expansion of the company, launching its perfume lines, sportswear and licensing and franchise of Cerruti stores all over the world.
Nino Cerruti named Narciso Rodriguez, a former Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and TSE designer, creative director of Cerruti in 1996 but replaced him with Peter Speliopoulos, also a Donna Karan designer, already in 1997.
After over 100 years as a family business, in October 2000, in an effort to secure global expansion, Nino Cerruti sold 51% of his company to Fin.Part, an Italian industrial group, which would less than a year later buy the rest of the company.
Nino Cerruti, at the age of 71 left the company in June 2001 out of “irreconcilable differences” according to reports. Hence, the Spring/ Summer 2002 collection marked the end of Cerruti being designed by Nino Cerruti.
In autumn 2001, Fin.Part installed Italian Roberto Menichetti, Creative Director. He left the house after only one season.
Menichetti was succeedded by Yugoslav Istvan Francer, a former Donna Karan designer. He debuted in Paris for Cerruti during the Spring 2003 season. Francer stayed on for two seasons.
In April 2003, Los Angeles-based designer David Cardona, who had worked for Richard Tyler and Chrome Hearts, replaced Istvan Francer as creative director at Cerruti. Scotsman Adrian Smith was appointed head of the menswear collections.
By 2004, the company was in a deep crisis and restructuring plans proved unsuccessful. Fin.part declared bankruptcy in 2005. Cerruti finally was sold to US private equity firm MatlinPatterson.
With the intention of revitalizing the house, MatlinPatterson, appointed Nicolas Andreas Taralis, a former designer with Dior Homme who also owns his signature fashion label, as Creative director in summer 2006.
Formerly Creative Director at Krizia and Louis Feraud and maintains his eponymous brand, Jean Paul Knott spent 13 years at Yves Saint Laurent where he honed his design and tailoring skills.