The Florence-based fashion museum is gearing up to present “Italy in Hollywood”, an exhibition chronicling Salvatore Ferragamo’s work in California while exploring Italian migration to California and immigrants’ influence on silent film and music.
The story of Salvatore Ferragamo is one to be reckoned, especially since all odds seem to be against him. Born in 1898 to a poor family in Bonito, Italy (he was the 11th of 14th children), Salvatore knew that he is destined to be a shoemaker at a young age of nine. After studying the art in Naples for a year, Salvatore opened a small store based in his parent’s home before migrating to Boston in 1915 to live the American dream. He and his brothers were working out of a cowboy boot factory but managed to convince his siblings to move to California, first Santa Barbara then Hollywood.
It wasn’t long before this young cobbler found success. Soon after opening a shop for repair and made-to-measure shoes, Salvatore was making Egyptian sandals for Cecil B. DeMille’s grand-scare silent epics and tracing the contours of Joan Crawford’s toes for custom orders. He eventually returned to Italy in 1927 to become the Florentine prince of heels. His label soon became associated with the wealthiest and most powerful women of the century.
Through photographs, film clips, objects, clothing and artistic depictions, “Italy in Hollywood” will illustrate the multifaceted relationship between Americans and Italian immigrants between the years Salvatore was in California, all in a contemporary light.