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Salvatore Ferragamo Museum

While at school in Italy this semester I decided to say, “why not” and take a few fashion classes.

Let’s take it back a bit to when I was younger… When I was in elementary school I used to want to be a fashion designer. I drew the models (usually traced from a print out onto my drawing paper) and came up with dresses galore. This little notepad had funky, classic, different and avant guard dresses alike in the pages. After a while I felt like everything I drew started to look the same. Almost as if I had lost my creativity and passion for drawing my future fashion designs so I retired my pencil and notebook and found a new hobby. Now back to the present…

Fashion classes in Italy. I mean where else to study fashion than in France or Italy? Maybe in New York, but that is beside the point. I decided to reignite my old fashion loving flame and in one of these classes we attended the Salvatore Ferragamo museum. The focus in this year’s display was when Salvatore Ferragamo came back to Italy from America.

Que pictures and history…

Who was Ferragamo? He was an Italian shoe designer and was best known for his shoes being worn by Hollywood stars in the 1920s.

Before being a famous shoe designer, he was the eleventh child of fourteen children in a poor family. He made his first pair of shoes for himself and his sisters to wear at their confirmation. He attended school in Napes, Italy for one year to learn more about making shoes before he headed off to the United States.

Where he first found success was at a shoe repair shop to repair shoes and to make made-to-measure shoes. These made-to-measure shoes became prized items by celebrities at the time. This lead to a long career of designing and making shoes for the cinema. But being famous in this way only partially satisfied him so he went to school at University of Southern California to study anatomy so he could ultimately make a beautiful shoe and a comfortable shoe.

He went back to Florence, Italy and began to create shoes for some of the most wealthy and prominent women of the time including Marilyn Monroe, Eva Peron and Maharani of Cooch Behar. Others people he worked with include a platform sandal for Judy Garland. It was a tribute to her signature song “Over the Rainbow” that was performed in The Wizard of Oz.

Ferragamo was the creator of the famous stiletto heels with metal reinforcements, for Marilyn Monroe. Audrey Hepburn inspired him to design a ballet pump that eventually came to epitomise the style of the beautiful actress. The list of stars who wore Ferragamo is a long one including Greta Garbo, Ava Gardner, Sophia Lauren and Lauren Bacall.

After this era for Ferragamo, he turned his company into an enterprise with ready to wear clothing and accessories such as luxury shoes, bags, eyewear, silk accessories, watches, perfumes and clothes.

He was best known for his “Cage Heel” and when his daughter, Vera, took after him with his talent and started creating after he passed. Her best known work was the “Vara Pumps”.

Salvatore Ferragamo’s dream was one day to “dress women from head to toe.” He would be very proud to know that his family fashion house now does exactly that.


Overall the museum was interesting. The one thing that disappointed me was the lack of shoes. There were many in the beginning and almost none at the end. But the museum did a great job providing background of Italy and America and how they were influences for Ferragamo’s designs.

I would suggest you check it out if you have any interest in fashion, and go back every year when they change the exhibition. I’m hoping the Gucci museum is open again before I leave!

xx, Chandler

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