Salvatore Ferragamo (Italian, 18981960)
Purple suede and gold metallic leather
Gift of Salvatore Ferragamo, 1973 (1973.282.6)
Succinctly modern and yet consistently revivalist, shoemaker Salvatore Ferragamo was one of the first global names in twentieth-century Italian fashion. Both Mariano Fortuny and Maria Gallenga sold their Venetian glass and stenciled silk velvet Renaissance-inspired textiles to wealthy patrons worldwide during the 1920s and '30s, but while their garments are now prized as classics, their couture houses closed before mid-century. The Ferragamo name held international appeal and signified both fine craftsmanship and ingenious design as early as the 1930s with movie stars like Gloria Swanson, but even after the patriarch of the Ferragamo company died in 1960, his family continued this legacy of quality, and even today retains a classic, timeless appeal. Among his greatest innovations, Salvatore Ferragamo used ferronerie-style and voided velvet textiles in classic pump designs, marking his admiration for the aesthetics of Italy's textile heritage.
Ferragamo's lush purple suede and gold metallic kid leather shoe is an exquisite example of historical influence in Italian fashion; the model reworks the basic construction of a fifteenth-century Italian men's shoe, almost always made of a tough leather and fitted with a soft-pointed toe. The wedge construction, thought to be both charmingly modern and instinctively reminiscent of the chopine, also dating to the fifteenth century, consolidates Ferragamo's eloquent historical recollection. The rich purple and gold colors seem to complete the design, recalling the eclectic and colorful banners of the Italian Renaissance.