By Ellen Miller
A great exhibition at the Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence shines light where we often forget to look: at the designer himself. Ferragamo is famous for his shoes and his penchant for designing for celebrities, but 55 years after his death the museum dedicated to his work is seeking to shine the spotlight on the enigmatic man himself in an exhibition entitled “Equilibrium”. Currently scheduled to run through April, the exhibition focuses on the experience of Ferragamo through both his own letters and testimonials from well-known individuals including Reinhold Messner, Philippe Petit, Will Self, Cecil Balmond and Eleonora Abbagnato. The exhibition finds its roots in Ferragamo’s beginnings shoes. While the brand has expanded considerably since the designer’s death in 1960, Ferragamo was and always will be best known for his shoes. Never content to just be ordinary, Ferragamo himself actually studied anatomy in southern California in order to better understand why his beautiful shoes were not comfortable for the wearer. He held many patents throughout his lifetime that demonstrate his commitment to truly understanding his craft. Equilibrium examines the anatomy of the foot through Ferragamo’s eyes, displaying original drawings and shoes by the artisan in contrast with other art forms displaying the significance of the foot. Walking, dancing, crossing a tightrope and climbing a mountain are all uses of the foot that the exhibition seeks to examine, inspired by the professions and passions of Ferragamo’s elite clientele. The foot may seem an ordinary subject for such a famous designer to dedicate an entire exhibition to, but the artists featured are anything but ordinary. The museum has cultivated partnerships with international museums, foundations, galleries and even private collections to introduce the likes of Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee and many other notable artists into the exhibition. Ferragamo spent much of his life living in the States, eventually migrating to southern California where he made his name as a designer to the stars. He got his start designing for film, but eventually his beautiful creations found their way onto the feet of Hollywood elite. Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo, Judy Garland, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were some of the famous to be well-heeled in Ferragamo. In film, Ferragamo notably created the red slippers from The Wizard of Oz. He was known both for his innovation and his dedication to quality in a time where shoes were still manufactured by hand. Using his knowledge of the human foot thanks to his study of anatomy, Ferragamo created wooden models for his most famous clients to ensure that he created the best fit possible in a pair of shoes. Equilibrium takes a look behind-the-scenes at the fascinating dichotomy that existed within the fashionable designer Ferragamo.
Palazzo Spini Feroni
Piazza Santa Trinita 5/R,
Tel. 055 3562846 / 055 3562813
Fax 055 3562475
Buses 6 e 37
The museum is open from 10 am to 7:30 pm everyday;
except 1 January, 1 May, 15 August and 25 December.
Children under ten years of age and adults over 65 enter free of charge.
Free entrance to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum every first Sunday of the month.
Audio guide service in Italian English French Spanish and Japanese.