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Menswear innovator Nino Cerruti dies at 91

Nino Cerruti, the Italian fashion designer credited with revolutionising menswear in the 1960s and who gave Giorgio Armani his first fashion break, has died aged 91.

Cerruti died in northwestern Italy, where his family has operated a textile company since 1881, the Italian news agency LaPresse reported.

The Italian daily Corriere said he had been hospitalised for hip surgery.

Cerutti inherited the family business, based in the city of Biella in the Piedmont region, at age 20 upon his father’s death in 1950.

He launched his first menswear company, Hitman, in 1957 near Milan, dedicated to creating sartorial elegance on an industrial scale and becoming part of the nascent men’s ready-to-wear sector.

Armani was hired as a young talent at the Hitman factory in the mid-1960s.

Armani recalled Cerruti as a creative entrepreneur with “an acute eye, a true curiosity, the ability to dare”, adding “his gentle way of being authoritative, even authoritarian” would be missed.

In 1967, Cerruti founded the luxury menswear fashion house Cerruti 1881 in Paris, then the international fashion capital, while maintaining production in Italy.

The softened silhouette, use of colours and the attention to both innovative design and tradition won clients such as French film star Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Soon, Cerruti was in demand in Hollywood, with his designs worn on and off screen by such stars as Michael Douglas, Richard Gere, Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford.

Cerutti also launched a womenswear line as well as perfumes, watches, accessories and leather goods. He also at one point was the designer for the Ferrari Formula 1 team.

Cerruti sold the company in the early 2000s and designed his last collection for spring-summer 2020. But he never severed ties with the fashion house, even as he turned his focus to the textile business, taking a front-row seat at Paris runway shows.

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