Tag Archives: Meet The Masters

Meet The Masters: Salvatore Ferragamo

27 Jul

I know you’re probably wondering why I didn’t start with Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo or one of the other uber-kids that are mentioned all over the place but I thought I would bring home old school for my first introduction.

Although really, I don’t think Ferragamo is “old school” necessarily but his were the first major pair of shoes I bought with my very first paycheck. A plum-suede pump.

Go head. Laugh. It was the 80’s dammit!

The Famous "Caged Heel" .. God, I want these so bad!!

The 11th of 14 kids ( Italians know how to take advantage of “down” time ) Salvatore Ferragamo was born in Bonito, Naples, Italy in 1898.

He made his first pair of shoes 9 years later for his sister’s confirmation and knew he found his passion. Guess my 12 year old step son is a little late in the passion finding, huh? Note to self: Get on his ass!!

Anyway, Ferragamo studied shoe making in Naples.. opened a store in his parents home but then decided to move to Boston in 1914 where some of his brother’s worked in a cowboy boot factory.

Cowboy boots in Boston. Go figure.

He stayed for a while but convinced his brother’s that California was the place to be.. so they loaded up the truck and moved to Bev-er-ly!!

Sorry.. wrong story.

Ferragamo's famous "VERA" design, created by his daughter in 1978.. 18 years after Salvatore's death

Anyway.. the Ferragamo boys made it to California and eventually to Hollywood where Salvatore opened a shoe repair shop and also “Made To Measure” shoes.. which sent the Hollywood Stars gaga.

Because of that, he spent a long period of time designing shoes for movies but he still wasn’t as satisfied being the “Shoemakers To The Stars” as I probably would be.

Which is probably why he’s an iconic shoe designer and I’m.. well.. not.

He studied anatomy at USC because he wanted to know why his shoes were a pleasure to the eye but painful to the feet.

Yes, Salvatore!! More important that the Chicken / Egg question.

In 1927, he returned to Italy.. to Florence where he opened a shop on the Via Mannelli in 1929. There, not only did he create shoes for the hub-bubs he also started experimenting with design and patented ornamental and utility models.

Although he filed bankruptcy in 1933.. he stuck to what he knew and by 1950’s, he had expanded his operations to include 700 artisans that produced something ridiculous like 350 pairs of hand made shoes a day.

Think about it. 350 PAIRS a day. HAND MADE.

Silver Pump from current line

Salvatore Ferragamo died in 1960 at the age of 62.

Fortunately his wife and six :: I think it’s six :: children carried on with the brand and expanded it internationally to include handbags, sunglasses, watches, perfume and even a ready wear line.

Bootie from current line at 950usd

Personally, I find Ferragamo’s story fascinating but maybe it’s because his was similar to my grandfather’s.

My grandfather wasn’t an iconic shoe designer either ( dammit! ) but the drive.. determination.. passion and willingness to leave everything you know behind to follow your passion is a parallel.

If you have the opportunity to try on a pair of Ferragamo’s then do so.

They won’t feel like any shoe you ever put on your feet before.. but you just might want to go with a friend and have them hold your credit cards and check book just in case the price tag is a little out of your league.

Honestly .. they are that comfortable.