This year marks the 90th year since Salvatore Ferragamo returned to Italy, after spending 12 years in the United States. The brand celebrates the milestone anniversary, with an exhibition at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo at Palazzo Spini Feroni in Florence, Italy, until 2 May 2018.
The brazen Italian shoe designer was but 17 years old, when he boarded the Stampalia from Naples as a third-class passenger, for his transatlantic journey to further his education at the University of Southern California. Despite having already garnered a reputation as a skilful shoemaker in his hometown in Bonito of the Irpina region, and owned a shop at the age of 11, Ferragamo wanted to learn more about footwear.
United States then hosted the first sewing machines used to stitch the upper to the sole, and the footwear industry had reached levels of progress that were unthinkable in Italy back then. Hence, America was where Ferragamo believed to be the right place to quench his thirst for knowledge when it comes to creating the perfect shoe.
12 years later, Ferragamo returned home to Italy a successful man, having learned everything there was to know about shoes, sizes, and fit. He travelled home first class, on board the great ocean liner Roma of the General Italian Navigation, armed with a bigger reputation upon his sleeves, thanks to his shop in Santa Barbara on the Californian coast, where he repaired and crafted custom-made shoes, as well as his first shop in Hollywood, where he had served many Hollywood stars of the time, and witnessed first-hand the great revolution fuelled by the movies and the radio.
Curated by Carlo Sisi, the 1927 The Return to Italy exhibition is inspired by Ferragamo’s transatlantic voyage when he returned to Italy, an event which happened at a time when discussions revolved around the idea of returns: a return to order, a return to the trades, and a return to national traditions.
With a set designed by Maurizio Balò, the exhibition tells Ferragamo’s story in eight chapters, spanning over eight rooms. The rooms, like a novel in progress, explore the tastes of Italy’s 20th-century visual culture, and Ferragamo’s own view of said contemporary culture, featuring the themes and works of art that directly influenced or indirectly informed the poetics of Ferragamo’s creations without overlooking the many cultural and social aspects that characterised the post-WWI period up to the eve of the rise of the authoritarian Fascist regime.
The exhibition showcases clothing and fabric from the era, finely crafted objets d’art, photographs, advertisements, and naturally, the shoes created in the 1920s that demonstrate Salvatore Ferragamo’s close affinity with his contemporaries in the art world.
Also featured in the exhibition are artworks by the likes of Alessandra Acocella, Daniela Degl’ Innocenti, Lucia Mannini, Paolo Piccione, Stefania Ricci, Maddalena Tirabassi and Francesca Tosi, all of which symbolise Ferragamo’s progressive career growth throughout the rooms.
In light of the exhibition taking place at the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, Ferragamo’s Creations have delved into the vaults once again, and emerged from the exceptional archives of more than 15,000 designs over the course of 80 years with six show models created by the founder during Hollywood’s late-1920s and early-1930s: Lottie, The Star, Autumn, Labirinto, Preziosa and Indiana.
The six Ferragamo’s Creations shoes are all numbered, limited-edition reproductions, hand-crafted using the original patterns, leathers and shapes. During the event, the shoes are presented in a special packaging inspired by a patent taken out by Salvatore Ferragamo in the late-1920s: a bright blue box embellished with a golden metal plaque with the Ferragamo’s Creations logo on the outside, and two plush covers of the same bright blue colour on the inside for the shoes. Each shoe will be accompanied by a limited edition certificate, as is the case for all Ferragamo’s Creations footwear of unique accessories designed to be worn, collector’s items.
The jewel in the crown of all the brand’s collections originally launched in 2006 for the concept store at the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, Ferragamo’s Creations is now available at a selection of Ferragamo boutiques in Florence, Capri, Milan, Rome, Turin, Venice, Genoa, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, London, Moscow, Zurich, New York, Beverly Hills, Tokyo, Shanghai and Taipei; as well as multi-brand stores like 10 Corso Como (Milan, Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing), Ratti Boutique (Bologna), Gross Couture (Zurich), Dover Street Market (London) and at exclusive retail spaces like Coccodrillo (Antwerp).