The path forged by Salvatore Ferragamo in terms of innovative shoemaking and his lasting legacy form the focus of the latest exhibition at the Ferragamo Museum in Palazzo Spini Feroni, on display until November 4, 2024. Curated by Stefania Ricci, the retrospective titled Salvatore Ferragamo 1898-1960 takes a deep dive into the shoemaker’s life and extraordinary vision that brought about the iconic creations that are still synonymous with the fashion house today.
Starting from his birth in Bonito, Campania, in 1898 to his premature death in Fiumetto along the Tuscan coast in 1960, the commemorative exhibition marks 100 years since the opening of the first Ferragamo store in Hollywood in 1923, highlighting the milestones and most important chapters of the craftsman and entrepreneur who was dubbed the “Shoemaker to the Stars”.
The time spent in Hollywood receives dedicated attention, documenting the time he spent there between 1923 and 1927. The store quickly became a reference point for international celebrities and stars such as Mary Pickford, Joan Crawford and Rudolph Valentino. The notes he kept on the shoes they commissioned prove fascinating, with their idiosyncrasies, favourite styles and personal tastes revealed.
His passion and forward-thinking mindset are evident in the vast array of documents, objects, artworks, photographs and videos, with Ferragamo’s anatomical studies and research into shapes and materials further testament to his ongoing drive to improve his own architect-like awareness of a foot’s form. His 369 patents for shoe construction techniques are detailed, including the invention of the cork wedge heel, the cage heel and the shell-shaped sole.
The shoemaker’s diverse artistic and cultural inspirations are explored, as are his experimentation with colour, from primary monochromes to geometric patchworks and optical effects, and the historical and geographical pillars that straddled his work: two wars and the two worlds of Italy and America.