Have you ever worn wedges during summer to create the trendiest and most beautiful outfit ever? I bet you have; but do you know we owe this marvelous and comfortable creation to one Italian man named Salvatore Ferragamo.
He is one of the most acclaimed designers in fashion history. His career began as a shoemaker and even though he started in his home country his real big moment came to him while he was living in the United States where he started designing personalized and very comfortable but chic shoes for the movie stars, turning him into the designer of the Hollywood muses such as Marilyn Monroe or Greta Garbo, and what a way to pitch the starts, he got to make shoes to the biggest actresses of the moment. He then moved back to his homeland to open and start his own brand, focusing first on the shoe creation and later moving to hand bags and so on.
One of the greatest things Ferragamo did for designed, that I personally think sometimes is not as highlighted as it should be, was to introduce the use of alternative materials to create his designs bringing innovation and creativity to the table in times were it was not even a thing or relevant to do so, it was more about being recursive, he used materials such as cork to do the wedges, cellophane that allowed him to play with vibrant and different colors and the nylon that helped him create one his most iconic designs, the “invisible sandal” making him a real visionary in the fashion world.
Salvatore Ferragamo sadly died at the age of 62 in 1960, leaving his brand and legacy in the hands of his wife Wanda and his daughters and sons. Wanda with Fiamma Ferragamo, one of his daughters, as the creative head of the brand took it to next level taking the business from a recognized brand to an international mega luxury brand, honoring all the values Salvatore taught them. Everyone in the family has made part of the brands history and in the path of making it the iconic brand it is nowadays.
As a beautiful tribute to Salvatore Ferragamo the family decided to found the museum, as a place where they wanted to highlight “the role he played in the history of footwear and international fashion”. At the beginning it was only going to be about the brands and Salvatore Ferragamo’s history but then it evolved and it now creates a new exhibition based on a different research theme each year.
Last week I had the honor to make a visit to this year’s exhibition, its name is SILK. With this theme they want to make a distinction to this delicate, luxurious and elegant fabric and its importance in the trade lines of the world history but also in fashion. Revealing all the process of creation behind a printed silk scarf or tie, we get to wear in our daily outfits as the perfect addition to put a pop of color to it. To do this they relied on the history of the brand and this silk accessories with personalized patterns and prints.
Salvatore Ferragamo’s brand only began its production of silk accessories thanks to Fulvia Ferragamo, one of his daughters, in 1970 when she launched men’s and women’s silk accessories line. She took as inspiration flowers, exotic animals, such as felines and elephants, and several oriental elements, beside this one of the most interesting parts of it was that they were constructed or formed from a patchwork of flowers creating the most delicate but intricate piece of art you could wear.
Once you get into the building you find yourself surrounded by animals, some of them real dissected ones that come from museums and some others fiberglasses sculptures created by Sun Yuan & Pen Yu. After this shocking entrance you start going into the world of the silk scarfs and ties, created by Salvatore Ferragamo’s brand under Fulvia’s direction. They have managed to display a full collection of this accessories paired with some artworks, some beautiful books of the archives and sketches, that allow you as a visitor to get involved into the whole inspiration and creation process, until you are able to see it represented in the real scarf or tie that you have the possibility to wear as the best compliment accessory ever. They also have 2 different spaces that really sealed this experience and make it complete, one of them is a space where you get to enter a dark room with screens covering the walls showing how a pattern of a scarf come to live together as one, letting you feel wrapped in the experience of creation. And just when you are about to exit the exhibition, they had a room with an ensemble that showed the way the brand has had this patterns and silk present throughout its history in different decades, portraying the importance of this fabric, floral and animal inspiration to the brand.
If you ask me, it is completely worth it to visit this exhibition, as it takes you to this creative and inspirational journey, we as costumer don’t get to be part of, allowing us to value more every piece of garment we choose to buy and wear. And as every visit to any museum in the world, you always get the chance to reflect on it once you go out, I really think the great ability they have shown as a brand to be purposeful and creative in a lot of areas, going from the museum’s exhibitions to the designs they create, perhaps it is time to move forward and start exploring with innovating materials more animal friendly that allow the brand to honor the importance of animals and nature as a font of inspiration for their collections, just as Salvatore Ferragamo himself did creating successful pieces and one of his most iconic designs using alternative materials?