There are 15,000 pairs of archive designs at the Salvatore Ferragamo museum in Florence,’ enthuses Paul Andrew, appointed the house’s first design director of women’s footwear last September. ‘To be given the keys to that as a shoe designer, is the most precious gift.’ Similarly, the British-born, New York-based designer’s association with the Italian house is the gift that keeps on giving.
‘I’ve come across some of the most incredible shoes,’ adds Andrew, who founded his own shoe label in 2012. ‘Salvatore Ferragamo was such an innovator and pioneer.’ It was in 1919 that the Italian shoe designer (who had emigrated to Boston in 1914), relocated to Santa Barbara, opening a boot shop that catered to the glamorous desires of the Hollywood elite. Eight years later, Ferragamo returned to Italy, establishing his eponymous company in Florence.
His designs were architectural, modern and revolutionary, from the 1938 cork wedge heel, covered in layers of colourful suede and designed for Judy Garland, to 1947’s ‘Invisible Sandal’, with an undulating F-shaped wedge heel. Ferragamo also focused on comfort, studying anatomy while in the United States. ‘Before him, a shoe was just something your foot used as a function to walk outside,’ Andrew says.