Salvatore Ferragamo: The Work Of An Amazing Shoemaker

Known as one of the most distinguished footwear designers in the world; Salvatore Ferragamo's sublime creations stimulate the imagination, have character and spirit and capture the essence of divinity.

 Salvatore Ferragamo was born in the city of Bonito, Naples, in 1898, and died in Florence in 1960. He was one of the most distinguished footwear designers in the world; his sublime creations stimulate the imagination, have character and spirit and  capture the essence of divinity. His artistic production is intimately related to the history of cinema.Ferragamo’s remarkable interest in shoes began when he started working as a cobbler’s assistant in Naples. By the time he was 13, he was already working in his own shop, and the following year he moved to the United States, where he was introduced to the industrial production of footwear. 

He started making shoes for films in California, and moved to Hollywood when the movie industry settled there. In the 1920s he became known as “the shoemaker of the stars,” with success that it made it difficult to meet the demand for his creations.

Years later he would return to Italy, specifically to Florence, where he built a brand that still maintains the highest prestige in the international market. The handmade shoes he created during this period are coveted collector’s items.

We cannot say that he was ever “officially” a cobbler, even though he began as one. However, his desire to make shoes of extraordinary quality was so genuine that he didn’t stop there: to ensure that his shoes had the perfect fit, he decided to study human anatomy at the University of Southern California. His scientific approach allowed him to make important innovations in the footwear industry (wedge heels for example), to be quite visionary.

As a result, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence presented an exhibition in June 2013, “The Amazing Shoemaker,” which used Ferragamo’s life as background for a suite of enchanting legends and fairy tales, with shoes as protagonists.

Ferruccio Ferragamo, President of the Ferragamo Group, specified that the display would not be a retrospective of the brand, and explained that some of the pieces were been created specifically for the exhibition, and presented alongside older samples borrowed from other museums.

Mimmo Paladino, Alessandro Bergonzoni, Mauro Borrelli, Rick Heinrichs and Frank Espinosa were some of the artists chosen to represent the world of Ferragamo through installations, comics, animations, short films, stories and posters.

The exhibition included shoes, boot trees of some of the stars for whom the designer worked (Ava Gardner, Ingrid Bergman, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Sofia Loren, Rita Hayworth and Bette Davis among them); photographs of stars and scenes from movies that featured his shoes, a variety of accessories, clothing, and a whole world inspired by the creative genius of Salvatore Ferragamo.

The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum emphasizes the importance of fantasy and its role in human spiritual development. This was evident in the exhibition’s presentation: “today more than ever there is a need to address, by way of fantasy, the mysteries and dreams, the solutions and answers to the moral issues, doubts and problems that affect our times. In times of crisis arises a more urgent need to fantasize with imagination and overcome obstacles and fears. It is a universal necessity, since instinct is paramount.”

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