by Karen Alberg Grossman
Gianfranco Ruffini
Gianfranco Ruffini

MR magazine is saddened to report the passing of legendary menswear designer Gianfranco Ruffini. He was adored and widely respected for both his talent and his kindness.

Industry veteran Joe Barrato knew him well. “I worked for him as president of Gianfranco Ruffini, a division of Cluett Peabody, in the early ’80s. Before that, his major contribution to the industry was as the creator of Nik Nik men’s printed shirts, the category that propelled the whole disco trend in the ’70s.

Ruffini was a true pioneer in our business, genuinely talented, an artist! Every shirt he produced was a work of art. I was privileged to work with him not just for his incredible design talent but also because he was special and kind. There are few people you meet in life with that kind of spirit. He impacted my career and my life in so many different ways.”

Fashion marketing and licensing consultant Donald Dolce recalls, “I first met Mr. Ruffini in the early 1980s when he was an important vendor in main floor designer sportswear collections. Much later, when I worked in licensing, his tailored clothing collection was one of the most successful in the industry. He was the consummate gentleman and always wonderful to work with.”

Ruffini’s son Patrick posted on Facebook: “Today is my first day waking up in a world without my Babbo. I already miss him so much. He was an amazing father, grandfather, husband, role model, and best friend (especially to Teddy). So much about me — the good parts anyway! — was shaped by him. We can’t be too sad though, because lived a full life doing exactly what he loved. He was a pioneer in the fashion business, co-founded a charity to educate children in India, and traveled the world. Gianfranco Ruffini was the best man I will ever know; I feel his presence today and every day.”


  1. I know Gianfranco Ruffini through my beautiful Parsons School of Design classmate, Phyllis, his wife, and of course his famous men’s wear company. They both visited me while I was working at Waterworks in Greenwich Ct. He was charming, warm and I liked him immediately.
    A big loss. Phyllis, I’m thinking of you and your family. My condolences to all who are affected by his death.
    Lolly Renault

    1. Phyllis and I attended Parsons together and then went on to work for the same company designing woman’s sportswear. Phyllis later met the love of her life, Gianfranco. They shared a wonderful life together and had a beautiful son together, whom I had the pleasure of meeting many years ago in NYC.
      Dear Phyllis, no words can express how saddened I feel for you. You will always have wonderful memories of the life you shared together. You are truly loved by all your beautiful friends from Parsons.
      Much love to you and your family,
      Carol Gooding

  2. Dear Phyllis,
    My deepest sympathies go out to you and your family.I can’t even begin to understand what you are going through, especially since Gianfranco was such an extraordinary man and husband and father.
    Because of the man he was, the loss must feel even more painful. Hopefully the times and memories you shared together will give you comfort.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Christine Degennaro

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