When my tita Carina based in Florence asked me what I have always wanted to experience on a trip to the city, I immediately included a trip to the Ferragamo museum on my wish list. Lucky enough, it was already on the agenda she was organizing! Instantly got me full of excitement.
As we were walking the road heading to the museum, I was beyond fascinated with preservation. Museo Salvatore Ferragamo settles itself at the Palazzo Spini Feroni building in piazza Santa Trinita. Considered to be the grandest private medieval house-palace in Florence, it seemed impossible for a cobbler to acquire such an expensive space and own it. He was able to have it through a challenge. Every month its owner would give Salvatore Ferragamo a price and if he was not able to pay that certain amount, he and his staff would have to leave. Surprisingly, he proved this aristocrat wrong and eventually was able to pay the whole place off in full!
Currently, neighbouring sites include other top of the line retailers including Prada, Gucci, Bvlgari, Dolce and Gabbana, Burberry, Roberto Cavalli, Pucci and Dior. Walk straight ahead and you’ll also pass Hermès, Furla and Chanel if you keep going. In essence, every fashionista would be in heaven!!!
Salvatore Ferragamo started with humble beginnings. He came from a very poor family of 14 children. His father didn’t appreciate his interest in becoming a cobbler because shoemakers aren’t really known to be capable of making a lot of money. However, as early at the age of 9, Salvatore was able to handcraft his first pair of shoes for his younger sister. He decided to make these as his family could not afford to buy her a new pair. This inspired him to pursue this calling.
|He made his son’s first pair of shoes. The holes you see were meant to serve as suction cups in a sense so that the baby wouldn’t slip while walking|
After working with local cobblers and learning techniques in addition to the skill he already had, he eventually was given the chance to emigrate to the United States and sought more opportunities there. He started working at a factory for a short period of time, however decided that he wanted to become an artisan personalizing each pair of shoes for their designated costumer. Here there were more chances to let his creative juices flow, and ensure higher quality goods. He left the job and started his own shop in California. As creative as Salvatore was, he did not limit himself from the look of the shoe but also its comfortability. He pushed himself to pursue studies concerning the anatomy of the foot.
Upon the center of the museum’s main hall lies a peculiar steal figure. What on earth would it have to do with Ferragamo you may ask? Well, this served as the base of every Ferragamo shoe after Salvatore figured out a way to create more balance for a woman wearing high heels as it would provide more support to the arch of her foot. He was not only a cobbler, but now also an engineer.
|dancing shoes made of plastic for less pain as they are lighter|
|Such a fascinating piece – plated with real gold!|
It was essential for Salvatore to stick to his philosophy of only creating personally handcrafted shoes. Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn to name a few grew very much fond of his work. However, as the demand for his shoes grew, there were only very limited artisans in the United States that could work up to the standards he had. So, he decided to move back to Florence where they are known for their quality leather goods and have more artisans available to work with him.
Frequent clients were made special shoe molds making it easier to construct a pair of shoes every time they ordered. Notice the little holes? This was Salvatore’s way of taking note of how many pairs of shoes that client has ordered from him.
When the Great Depression took place, it became more difficult for Salvatore to obtain the steel material used for the basis of his heels. His limitations led him to become more innovated rather than prevent him from continuing on with business. He was able to create a full heel that connected to the soles of the shoe to give substantial support to the foot using material acquired from cork trees. The wedge heel was born! Definitely one of the most comfortable yet fashionable kinds of shoes there are.
Through time, the process of creating Ferragamo shoes have changed due to a much larger demand and expansion of business. However, to maintain high quality standards, Ferragamo’s innovative team has come up with a solution to compliment different kinds of foot shapes by having a range in length and widths as well. At the same time, there are still several steps into making the shoes that can only be done by hand so costumers can be assured that they still are handcrafted.
Although, if you happen to be near the wonderful city of Florence, you can stop by Ferragamo’s cobbler shop located also at Palazzo Spini Feroni where they can still recreate Salvatore Ferragamo’s classic pieces personally shaped for your feet. I dream of my own one day!
|Recreated classic pieces at the Ferragamo store – specially made to order|
There is so much to learn from such a wonderful brand and designer. Hope you liked looking through my snapshots of the museum and knowing a little bit more about Salvatore Ferragamo’s history! Ciao!
P.S. Credits to my mama for taking all the lovely pictures so that I could pay close attention to the wonderful tour guide that provided me with all the material I used for the info on this particular post!