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HomeLatest NewsShoemaker to the stars (and not only): Salvatore Ferragamo in 10 photographs

Shoemaker to the stars (and not only): Salvatore Ferragamo in 10 photographs

Date: July 13, 2024 Time: 19:02:21

On the birthday of the leading shoemaker of the 20th century, Salvatore Ferragamo, we remember his creative path: from his native Italy to Hollywood and back. We also share the 10 best photographs, in the editors’ humble opinion, of the star shoemaker.

Salvatore Ferragamo, 1929

Salvatore designed and sewed his first pair of shoes, more specifically white shoes for Sister Giuseppina on the occasion of her first communion, when she was 9 years old. At that very moment, the eleventh of 14 children of the Italian Ferragamo family clearly understood the meaning of her confession. Born one hundred kilometers from Naples, in Bonito, the future revolutionary of women’s footwear and designer left home at the age of 16 and emigrated to join his brothers and sisters in America. Ferragamo worked for two weeks at the Plant shoe factory in Boston (incidentally, one of the leading shoe companies on the East Coast), where he studied modern manufacturing. However, even then, although fascinated by progress, the young man understood that these shoes were not enough for his hands.

Salvatore Ferragamo and Joan Crawford, 1928

In 1915, Ferragamo moved to Santa Barbara, where he opened a shoe repair shop. The city reminds him a lot of his native Italy and, of course, he is captivated by the fact that in the near future they plan to build the first film studios here. A year later, Salvatore entered night courses at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles to study anatomy. He wants to know everything about the structure of the foot. This is where Ferragamo realizes that the weight of the body rests on the arch of the foot, which means he needs to figure out how to support it. Spoiler: place a steel rod inside the pad.

At the same time, cinema became an important part of Ferragamo’s life: in 1923 he opened a shoe store in Hollywood and later received the famous name “shoemaker to the stars.” Among his clients are Gloria Swenson, Lillian Gish, Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo. They would later be joined by Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn. Despite unconditional success and the American dream, in 1927 Salvatore returned to Italy and opened a factory in Florence, which became a training ground for 75 students under his direction. In this way, the designer saves the city’s artisanal heritage by combining it with the production system of American factories.

The stock market crisis of 1929 also affected Ferragamo’s company, since its business was directly related to America. In 1933, Salvatore declared bankruptcy, but did not give up: three years later, through his sister, he rented several rooms in the historic Palazzo Spini Feroni, a medieval palace and symbol of Florence, where he resumed production. .

During the war with Ethiopia, Italy took the best steel and other materials to make weapons, and Salvatore created the first cork wedge. The patent will appear in 1937. The designer masterfully uses the rest of the available material and proposes uppers made of hemp, felt, fish skin and even cellophane (he liked the shine and flexibility of chocolate wrappers).

This is how the brand’s signature Rainbow sandals were born, inspired by actress Judy Garland from the movie “The Wizard of Oz.” And ten years later, the designer shows “invisible” sandals on a wooden wedge in the shape of the letter “F.” The Ferragamo wedge heel is covered in leather and the upper is made of transparent nylon fishing line. According to Salvatore himself, the idea was suggested to him by a worker who caught a large fish with a nylon fishing line. “The fish don’t see it,” he explained to Salvatore. Invisible sandals have become a real success.

Salvatore divided all of his clients into three categories based on their foot size. The “Cinderellas” wore shoes smaller than a size six and, according to the designer, were “feminine and loved fashion.” Among them were Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow, Queen of Greece and Duchess of Windsor. The second category is the “Venus”, with a shoe size of six (Marilyn Monroe): “They were usually very beautiful, but beneath their brilliant appearance they loved the simple things in life, and were often misunderstood because of these two features. “The Ferragamo “aristocrats” (Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn) wore sizes seven or more. He described them as sensitive and deeply understanding people, but noted their bad moods.

“Elegance and comfort are not incompatible, and anyone who says otherwise simply does not know what he is talking about,” said Ferragamo, knowing with certainty that his shoes met not only the external standards of his time, but also maximum comfort.

In 1951, Ferragamo participated in the first truly Italian exhibition, organized by buyer Giovanni Battista Giorgini in the ballroom of his home at Villa Torrigiani in Florence. The designer wears the Kimo sandals that he designed for Italian designer Emilio Schubert’s dresses. Inspired by the Japanese tabi, they were worn with leather or satin socks to match each dress.

In this photo, Ferragamo is holding his latest pairs of shoes. He will pass away 4 years later, on August 7, at a time when Salvatore Ferragamo will be at its peak. The company’s inheritance would pass into the hands of his wife Wanda and his six children, and in 1955 the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum was inaugurated in Florence.

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Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor
Hansen Taylor is a full-time editor for ePrimefeed covering sports and movie news.
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