Mr. Cerruti was born on September 25, 1930 in Biella, the son of Silvio Cerruti and Silvia (Tomassini) Cerruti. He is survived by his old companion, Sibylla Jahr; a son, Julian, and a daughter, Silvia; his brothers Alberto and Attilio, and two grandsons. His marriages to Diana Gates and Chantal Dumont ended in divorce.
With blue eyes and over six feet, Mr. Cerruti was always a dazzling figure, skiing and playing tennis like a pro. (He made athletic apparel for those sports and others, sponsoring players like Jimmy Connors.) “He’s just so gorgeous,” Elaine Kaufman, owner of Elaine’s, the famed canteen on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, told Margaret Muldoon, his longtime American publicist, every time he visited her restaurant, as Ms. Muldoon recalled in a telephone interview.
Over the decades, Mr. Cerruti had many designers, including a young Giorgio Armani, who worked for Mr. Cerruti’s company in the 1960s. In the mid-1990s, Narciso Rodriguez was the chief designer and most notably designed Carolyn Bessette’s pearl-colored silk crepe wedding dress for her wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996.
In addition to men’s and women’s clothing, Mr. Cerruti numerous licensing agreements, including accessories, perfumes 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 is 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 constant alignment between the rational or scientific world and the emotional or artistic world.”
In 1994 he was the official designer of the Formula 1 team Ferrari. Among the many honors, Mr. Cerruti was named a Cavaliere del Lavoro or Knight of Labor in 2000 by the President of Italy. The following year, the brand was sold in a forced takeover to Fin.part, an Italian conglomerate that had bought 51 percent of the company the year before and paid $67 million for the remaining shares, Women’s Wear Daily reported at the time.