Ferragamo: The Anatomy of a Vision

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FERRAGAMO: THE ANATOMY OF A VISION

By Margaret Durnien, Brian Luchsinger, Joan Sanders

Most know his name. Many know his work. Some know his talent. But few know where his immense success came from. Find out why Salvatore Ferragamo is considered a visionary, and discover how his relentless studies led him to create a veritable shoe empire.

Italian born and universally recognized, Salvatore Ferragamo is a world-wide sensation. Desiring to be a shoe-maker from a young age, he possessed a natural talent for the art of shoe construction and design. But what made him so successful? Unlike some designers, who only have an eye for fashion, Ferragamo had a passion for the theory behind it. He saw the complete package; the design, construction, and finished product.

Studying the anatomy of the foot at the University of California Santa Barbara, he dedicated his life to finding out what makes a shoe comfortable. Mastering the science of interaction between the bones and tendons of the foot when one walks, he was able to find out what makes a shoe work. His ability to create something that was not only beautiful but also functional, set him apart from other designers. Some might say that this is what makes him a visionary. He is the scientist and the designer; the mastermind behind it all.

One of his most famous designs is the cage heel. This design was invented in 1955 but is still in production today and worn by many stars including worldwide pop star Lady Gaga. Another design that comes from Ferragamo’s visionary mind is the wedge heel. It is a design thought up by Ferragamo that other designers have imitated but Salvatore perfected first. This style of shoe is still prominent today and Ferragamo’s use of cork for the heel was monumental in the shoe industry.

Ferragamo died at the age of 62, but his legacy and brand lives on. His international company carries luxury goods including shoes, accessories, eyewear, watches, clothes, perfume and more. The Salvatore Ferragamo museum is located on Piazza di Santa Trinita, in Florence. Here, the public can learn more about the process of making the shoes and the architecture behind them. Replicas of shoes he realized are showcased, including famous designs created for celebrities and movie stars like Marilyn Monroe. The exhibits change every so often, the current one entitled Equilibrium describes the philosophy behind the foot and Ferragamo’s designs. The changing exhibits are always informative, exciting, and innovative, much like the legendary designer.

His extreme work ethic starting from the young age of nine when he made his first pair of shoes for his sister, along with his unique designs and appreciation for the functions of the foot are just a few of the many reasons Ferragamo is still prevalent in the fashion world today. The brand has continued to maintain itself thanks to the work of his daughter and wife. The city of Florence also has played a large part in providing for his designs and housing his art.

Ferragamo designs are timeless. They are often imitated but never could be replicated. Ferragamo may have passed but he continues to make an impact in the fashion world as his brand grows. Many are more than happy to walk in his shoes, and will continue walking in them for many stylish years to come.

To visit the Ferragamo Museum in Florence, please visit the museum website.
Equilibrium was on display until April 12, 2015.

About the authors: Margaret Durnien, Brian Luchsinger, and Joan Sanders are current Spring 2015 J School students. This piece was authored for the Writing for Digital Media course taught by Prof. Beatrice Santini.



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