Vivia Ferragamo was born into Florence’s fashion royalty, the Ferragamo family. As the granddaughter of the legendary Salvatore Ferragamo, she has fashion in her blood. She has recently started her own collection, “Vivia.” The obvious question is why not work for the family business? The Florentine has the answer to this question, and many more, in this intimate interview with Vivia Ferragamo.
The Florentine: How did your family react when you said you were starting your own line?
Vivia Ferragamo: Proud, very proud. Everyone said, “You’ve got guts.” It was just after 9.11, and I’d had some rocky experiences. I find experiences, negative and positive, help very much. It’s a passion, a journey within. I design it because it’s bigger than me. I don’t quite have a choice. So my family has always supported me, because what I do comes from being part of them. If you ask my grandmother, at 3 or 4, I wasn’t playing with dolls. I would lock myself in her closet with purses and shoes, and those were my babies. Still, my favourite things are the vintage treasures she gives me from time to time. Once recently she gave me a crocodile bag from the 1960’s, it’s like a precious jewel to me. Although my grandfather has died, I often ask him to give me a hand. I think my whole family feels his presence. I think he is smiling away at what I’m doing.
TF: Do you do all the designing yourself?
VF: Yes. Florence is my base in terms of factories, it’s my roots, but my inspiration is found where I travel. All my creativity is nested abroad and then developed and expressed here in Italy.
TF: What inspires you when you travel?
VF: I am not usually inspired by a specific era or a specific actress or a film. I get inspired by situations, by emotions, by states of mind. I get inspired by energy, positiveness, and curiosity. Not to say that Florence doesn’t have this, but I come here to work. I’m more of a tourist when I’m in London, NY, or LA. I feed my soul and do lots of homework. I love differences in cultures. It completes me. I could be inspired by an old lady walking down the street, what aura she gives out. My creativity is very internal, a feeling, a sensation.
TF: What is the inspiration for your line, the colors, the fabrics, etc.?
VF: Violet is my color. It is passionate, feminine. Many women who are real women love that color. Lots of strong women love violet. My autumn/winter collection is all about reds, violets, light grays, zincs, turquoise, and chocolates in fur, cashmere, knits, and silk. I was inspired by Brazil for Spring 2006 so everything is very festive like mango, oranges, pinks, very fun and girly, aqua and lots of violets. I like to play with very soft leathers and create lots of ruching. My bags have contrast in colours, fabrics and textures. I play with jerseys and knitwear to create comfortable, feminine, cozy, romantic clothing that works together.
This season’s collection is a story of two women. One is Rosella who is dramatic and sensual, passionate, and outward, and the other is Sandy, a modern Cinderella who is inward, intelligent, sophisticated and technological. Rosella’s side is ruby red, chocolaty, animal-like, passionate, with strong violets, black and luxurious furs. Sandy’s side is more delicate, with flowery prints, violets, mint greens and charcoal grays. I love contrast. I believe all of us have many facets, like a diamond.
TF: These aren’t real women, that you know?
VF: No they aren’t real people, but yes I most definitely know them.
TF: Tell me about being a woman yourself.
VF: Today, I think being a woman is very, very difficult. I think women today have lost their grace. Women are becoming too tough instead of maintaining their gentle side.
TF: What is your greatest asset?
VF: My determination. It is my biggest asset but it can also be my biggest defect , because sometimes I can be stubborn. I work hard, and if I have a goal, I will get there. This is what has gotten me through difficulties and handled obstacles. It’s how I was able to complete a marathon. I like a challenge.
TF: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
VF: Designing, creating and producing my line, and finishing the London Marathon.
TF: What would you like to see happen for you as a person and a designer? What is it that you have as a mission or that pulls you?
VF: I would like to see my product going a step further, my organization going a step further, me as a person and a designer going a step further, I’m always looking for the next thing, I’m not very content, well, I’m content but I always want to do more. I always want to do the next race in a shorter time.