Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo (5 June 1898 – 7 August 1960) was an Italian shoe designer and the founder of luxury goods high-end retailer Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A.. Ferragamo worked with many Hollywood stars in the 1920s, before returning to Italy to found the eponymous company making unique handmade footwear. His scientific and creative approach to shoes spawned many innovations such as the wedge heel and cage heel. Film stars and celebrities continue to patronize his company, which has evolved into an international empire spanning the world.

Early life
Salvatore Ferragamo was born in 1898 to a poor family in Bonito, Italy, near Avellino, the eleventh of 14 children. After making his first pair of shoes for himself, a pair of high heels, at age nine (and his sisters to wear at their confirmation), young Salvatore decided that he had found his calling.

Career
After studying shoemaking in Naples for a year, Ferragamo opened a small store based in his parent's home. In 1914, he emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, where one of his brothers worked in a cowboy boot factory. After a brief stint at the factory, Ferragamo convinced his brothers to move to California, first Santa Barbara then Hollywood. It was here that Ferragamo found success, initially opening a shop for repair and made-to-measure shoes, which soon became prized items among celebrities of the day, leading to a long period of designing footwear for the cinema. However, his thriving reputation as 'Shoemaker to the Stars' only partially satisfied him. He could not fathom why his shoes pleased the eye yet hurt the foot, so he proceeded to study anatomy at the University of Southern California.

After spending thirteen years in the US, Ferragamo returned to Italy in 1927, settling in Florence. He began to fashion shoes for the wealthiest and most powerful women of the century, from the Maharani of Cooch Behar to Eva Peron to Marilyn Monroe. He opened a workshop in the Via Mannelli, concentrating his efforts in experimenting with design, applying for patents for ornamental and utility models and some related inventions. Although he filed for bankruptcy in 1933 due to bad management and economic pressures, Ferragamo nonetheless expanded his operation during the 1950s to a workforce of around 700 expert artisans that produced 350 pairs of handmade shoes a day.

“The Rainbow” was created by Salvatore Ferragamo in 1938 and was the first instance of the platform shoe returning in modern days in the West. The platform sandal was designed for American singer and actress Judy Garland. The shoe was a tribute to Judy Garland’s signature song “Over the Rainbow” performed in The Wizard of Oz (1938) feature film. The shoe was a crafted using uniquely shaped slabs of cork that were covered in suede to build up the wedge and gold kidskin was used for the straps. His creation was a result of experimentations with new materials because of wartime rationing during World War II.

Death and legacy
Salvatore Ferragamo died in 1960 at the age of 62, but his name lives on as an international company, which has expanded its operations to include luxury shoes, bags, eyewear, silk accessories, watches, perfumes and a ready-to-wear clothing line. At his death his wife Wanda and later their six children (Fiamma, Giovanna, Fulvia, Ferruccio, Massimo and Leonardo) ran the company. Ferragamo was always recognized as a visionary, and his designs ranged from the strikingly bizarre objet d'art to the traditionally elegant, often serving as the main inspiration to other footwear designers of his time and beyond.

His most famous invention is arguably the "Cage Heel". Fiamma (Salvatore's eldest daughter who died in 1998) inherited her father's inimitable talent and came up with the "Vara pumps" in 1978.

A museum dedicated to Ferragamo's life and work opened in the Palazzo Spini Feroni in 1995.[2] The palazzo had been bought by Ferragamo in the 1930s.[citation needed]

In March 2013, Ferragamo's fashion house, Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A., established the Ferragamo Foundation in Florence. The foundation was formed to cultivate young fashion designers, based on the ideas of Salvatore Ferragamo.

Salvatore Ferragamo

Salvatore Ferragamo
Born 5 June 1898
Bonito, Italy
Died 7 August 1960 (aged 62)
Florence, Italy
Residence Florence, Italy
Nationality Italian
Alma mater University of Southern California
Occupation Shoe designer
Known for Founder of Salvatore Ferragamo S.p.A..
Label(s) Salvatore Ferragamo
Spouse(s) Wanda Ferragamo-Miletti
Children 6
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