Salvatore Ferragamo left a legacy of innovation (June 5, 1898 – Aug 7, 1960
Ferragamo worked briefly with his brother at the factory, then moved 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 - prized items among celebrities during that time, leading to a life long hobby 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.
Ferragamo returned to Italy in 1927, after spending thirteen years in the United States. He settled in Florence and began to design shoes for the wealthiest and most powerful women of the century. The Maharani of Cooch Behar to Eva Peron to Marilyn Monroe, were all loyal to Ferragamo. In 1929, he opened a workshop in the Via Mannelli, concentrating his efforts on applying for patents for ornamental and utility models and some related inventions. The business stumbled out of the 20’s and Ferragamo filed for bankruptcy in 1933 due to bad management and economic pressures. Ferragamo, ever the entrepeneur, nonetheless recovered, and expanded his operation during the 1950’s to a workforce of over 700 expert artisans that produced 350 pairs of hand-made shoes a day.
Ferragamo is recognized as a visionary. His designs ranged from the strikingly bizarre objet d’art to the traditionally elegant, inspiring other footwear designers of his time and beyond. 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. Since his death, the Ferragamo Company is led by his wife Wanda and their six children (Fiamma, Giovanna, Fulvia, Ferruccio, Massimo and Leonardo).
His most famous invention is arguably the “Cage Heel”. Fiamma (Salvatore’s eldest daughter who died prematurely in 1998) inherited her father’s inimitable talent and came up with the “Vara pumps” in 1978.