Lightness is the key word for Alberta Ferretti’s creations, not only in describing the materials she uses but also the balanced proportions she evokes, whether working with the refined delicacy of chiffon or relative weight of woollen fabrics.
This Renaissance-style elegance makes her a go-to for celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Emma Watson, Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Scarlett Johansson, Cate Blanchett, Diane Kruger, Li Bingbing, Ksenia Rappoport and Queen Rania of Jordan.
The designer lives in San Giovanni in Marignano, a small village near Cattolica on the Adriatic coast of Italy. It’s an oasis of serenity, except during the summer, when it turns into one of the best-known Italian nightlife spots. The area in Emilia Romagna enjoys international appeal after shooting to fame in the 1970s, when director Federico Fellini used Rimini as the dreamlike and surreal set for his 1973 film Amarcord.
Just a few kilometres from Rimini, Alberta decided to establish her headquarters in Cattolica, although she continues to spend much of her time jet-setting between Milan, Paris, New York and Tokyo.
Alberta belongs to a small group of designers who are still owners of their brands. She not only resisted the siege of international investors, but also created a small fashion empire with her brother. In 1968, when she was only 18 years old, she opened her first boutique in Cattolica, betting on then-unknown young talents such as Gianni Versace and Giorgio Armani. In the ’90s, she received international acclaim with her brands Alberta Ferretti and Philosophy.
Feeling it important to maintain a relationship with her origins, Alberta restored a 14th-century palazzo in the Montegridolfo hamlet. Originally a simple rural property with a small country house, she transformed it into her home in the early ’80s.
The project maintained the original structure of the house, with its vaulted roof and rustic Cotto tile floor. Later on, the designer decided to add some rooms, including a big veranda and a winter swimming pool.
All of the refurbishment and interior decoration was seen to by Alberta herself; the art selection in the house features artists including Julian Schnabel, Vanessa Beecroft and Michelangelo Pistoletto, who have become good friends and regular visitors.
There is evident global inspiration in the house, with objects collected on her innumerable trips around the world – Moroccan vases, Thai hats, a Chinese console, and 18th-century French tables featuring the sphinx, found in the Chor Bazaar in Mumbai.
The spirit of Alberta’s collections lives in this private world – creativity without frontiers and demonstrating exquisite taste that mixes different materials and styles in a total freedom of combination. She says, “For me, home means an island where I feel at peace, where I can focus and concentrate – but at the same time, where I can easily escape and quickly reach every place I need.”
A version of this article originally appeared in our October 2017 issue.