Monday, April 03, 2006

Salvatore Ferragamo (1898-1960)

When Dorothy yearned to go home in the 1939 film "The Wizard of Oz," she clicked her ruby slippers together three times and made her wish come true.

In her off-screen life, Judy Garland walked on her own rainbow-coloured platform shoes created by Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo . The same shoes are now on display at Italian Museo Salvatore Ferragamo . Garland´s footwear, along with 39 other pairs of Ferragamo´s original designs are lent from time to time to other centres for display. At the Mexico city exhibition "Shños que Caminan. Salvatore Ferragamo 1898-1960" at the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes . Shoe exhibits were coupled with stills of the leading ladies who wore them from Judy Garland’s platforms to Audrey Hepburn´s ballet flats.

Ferragamo´s designs clad the feet of the big Hollywood starlets both on and off screen for the better part of a century. The celebrity shoemaker made his first pair of shoes aged 9 years for his sister. He studied shoemaking for a year in Naples before immigrating to the United States in 1914 to work in a shoe factory. Disillusioned with the low quality of factory-made shoes, the designer moved to California with his brothers and opened up a repair shop and made special-order shoes for a small but sophisticated clientele.

Soon after he opened the Hollywood Boot Shop, where countless starlets began to frequent as Ferragamo built a reputation for crafting quality shoes with consummately unique designs. Ferregamo drew inspiration from daily life, and all manner of materials including expensive textiles to complete his creations.

When he saw Italian fishermen using "invisible" nylon string for their lines he designed a sandal which won the Neiman Marcus Prize. Ferragamo returned to Italy but due to War time rationing leather was restricted so he adopted other materials including cellophane to footwear. Salvatore Ferragamo died in 1960.

The Italian Museo Salvatore Ferragamo houses a collection of 10,000 original shoes with images of the famous ladies that lifted him from ambitious to influential. Salvatore Ferragamo always insisted a woman should always dress from the feet up. As a designer the Italian lifted his shoe designs from fashion to art.

Reviewed 14/01/2017

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