Nino Cerruti was born on September 25, 1930 in Biella to Silvio and Silvia (Tomassini) Cerruti. He is survived by his longtime partner, Sibylla Jahr; one son, Julien; one daughter, Silvia; his brothers Alberto and Attilio; and two grandsons. His marriages to Diana Gates and Chantal Dumont ended in divorce.
Blue-eyed and over six feet tall, Mr. Cerruti has always been a dazzling figure who has skied and played tennis like a pro. (He made sportswear for these and other sports, and sponsored players like Jimmy Connors.) “He’s so gorgeous,” said Elaine Kaufman, owner of Elaine’s, the celebrity canteen on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, to Margaret Muldoon, Mr. Cerruti’s longtime American publicist, whenever he was visiting his restaurant, as Ms Muldoon recalled in a telephone interview.
Mr. Cerruti had many designers over the decades, including a young Giorgio Armani, who worked for Mr. Cerruti’s company in the 1960s. For a few years in the mid-1990s, Narciso Rodriguez was the designer principal, notably creating Carolyn Bessette’s pearl-hued silk crepe wedding dress for her marriage to John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996.
In addition to men’s and women’s clothing, Mr. Cerruti’s company had numerous licensing agreements for accessories, fragrances and eyewear, and boutiques around the world.
“I like to describe my operation as a modern take on the artisanal bodegas of centuries ago,” Mr. Cerruti told Esquire magazine in 1987. “It’s important to know every link in the chain. I consider myself very close to the theory of industrial design: using modern technology to reach the market. It is a very modern challenge: the continuous harmonization between the rational or scientific world and the emotional or artistic world.
In 1994 he was the official designer of the Ferrari Formula 1 team. Among many accolades, Mr. Cerruti was named Cavaliere del Lavoro, or Knight of Labor, by the President of Italy in 2000. The following year, the Cerruti brand was sold, in a forced takeover , to Fin.part, an Italian conglomerate. , which had bought 51% of the company the previous year; he paid $67 million for the remaining shares, Women’s Wear Daily reported at the time.