Count Ferdinando Sarmi (born c 1916) was the head of the Sarmi fashion design house in New York City.
Ferdinando Sarmi was born into a wealthy Italian
family. He expressed interest in fashion as a youth but was discouraged from pursuing a design career by his father. Sarmi stated in a 1965
interview with Time
, "in Italy, when the oldest son tells his father he wants to be a dress designer, it's like a woman saying she intends to be a prostitute". Sarmi's father sent him to study at the University of Siena
, where he received a doctor of law degree. Despite his professional training, Sarmi still desired a career in fashion. He became a costume designer and created costumes for two Italian films
: Musica Proibita
(released as Forbidden Music
in the US
) in 1942
and Cronaca di un Amore
(released as Story of a Love Affair
in the US) in 1950
. Sarmi was given a leading role in Cronaca di un Amore
, but it was his first and only on-screen performance. He left Italy in 1951 to work in New York fashion.
From 1951 to 1959, Sarmi was head designer for Elizabeth Arden
. It was during this time that he developed a reputation as a top designer, wooing an influential clientele that included celebrities, New York socialites, and foreign dignitaries. Pat Nixon
wore a Sarmi for Arden gown to her husband's second Inaugural Ball in 1957
. He was best known for his opulent evening looks, and for his use of extravagant fabrics such as swansdown. Sarmi left Arden and opened his own Seventh Avenue
boutique in 1959
. In 1960
, he was awarded the prestigious Coty Award
for fashion design. His collection included haute couture
apparel that set the pace for 1960s fashion in New York. His designs commonly featured intricate embroideries, vivid colors, and racy hemlines.
During the late 1960s, the house fell upon financial difficulties. In 1972, his business was renamed Ferdinando Sarmi, but it closed shortly thereafter.
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