Nino Cerruti, Designer Who Revolutionized Men’s Wear, Dies at 91

Nino Cerruti was born on Sept. 25, 1930, in Biella to Silvio and Silvia (Tomassini) Cerruti. He is survived by his longtime companion, Sibylla Jahr; a son, Julian; a daughter, Silvia; his brothers Alberto and Attilio; and two grandsons. His marriages to Diana Gates and Chantal Dumont ended in divorce.

Blue-eyed and well over six feet, Mr. Cerruti was always a dazzling figure who skied and played tennis like a professional. (He made athletic wear for those sports and others, and sponsored players like Jimmy Connors.) “He’s just so gorgeous,” Elaine Kaufman, owner of Elaine’s, the celebrity canteen on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, would tell Margaret Muldoon, Mr. Cerruti’s longtime American publicist, every time he visited her restaurant, as Ms. Muldoon recalled in a phone 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 lead designer, 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 wear, Mr. Cerruti’s company had numerous licensing deals for accessories, perfume and eyewear, and boutiques all over the world

“I like to describe my operation as a modern version of the handcraft bodegas of centuries ago,” Mr. Cerruti told Esquire magazine in 1987. “It is important to know each link in the chain. I consider myself very close to the theory of industrial design: using modern technology to reach the market. It’s 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 for the Formula 1 Team Ferrari. Among many awards, Mr. Cerruti was made a 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 percent of the business the year before; it paid $67 million for the remaining shares, Women’s Wear Daily reported at the time.