For generations, the House of Ferragamo has dazzled both the fashion world and Texas – with its commitment to quality and high style. With stores in some of the most important cities in the world, it’s one of our favorite stops anywhere for a dose of international flair.
Founded in 1927, Salvatore Ferragamo is now one of the world’s leading designers, producers, and distributors of luxury shoes, leather goods, accessories, fragrances and apparel for men and women. With 660 boutiques in countries around the globe, the love affair between the world and Ferragamo is stronger than ever. Belissimo indeed. Here Massimo Ferragamo, scion to the brand and Chairman of Ferragamo USA, dives into style with our Lance Avery Morgan on personal panache, movie stars and his inspiration for the next collection.
Lance Avery Morgan: Massimo, you come from a family that has legendary style. Do you think a man needs to be born with style – or can he develop his own?
Massimo Ferragamo: I definitely think there are those who are born with an innate sense of style, but it is also entirely possible for a man to develop his fashion sense. As with most things, it just requires a little effort. A stop by the nearest Ferragamo store is usually a good first step.
LAM: Your family’s fame all began while making shoes for movie stars in the 1920’s. Who were some of the company’s clients in the Golden Age of Hollywood?
MF: My father, Salvatore Ferragamo, created shoes for every major star of that time, from Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish to Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino. Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Sofia Loren and many more. The list of his famous clients was so extensive, he quickly became known as the Shoemaker to the Stars.
LAM: And you’re still famous for your shoes. What can someone tell about a man’s shoes?
MF: I don’t believe a man’s shoes are necessarily a window into his soul, but they can certainly tell you if the wearer takes genuine pride in his appearance or not. One’s shoes perfect the look. If they’re not up to scratch, nothing else looks quite right.
LAM: And you create beautiful clothes with amazing fabrics. Who is The Ferragamo Man?
MF: The Ferragamo Man is elegant, relaxed and fulfilled in all areas of his life. He is confident, urbane, and likes to look good with minimal fuss and effort. He has a natural instinct for things of quality and craftsmanship – which, of course, is why he gravitates towards Ferragamo.
LAM: Ferragamo is known for sophisticated color palettes, extraordinary craft, and luxurious materials. Where are you getting your creative inspiration for your fall men’s collection?
MF: The brand’s connection with the cinema is still very much alive. On screen or off, The Ferragamo Man always looks perfect wearing cashmere cords, luxurious knits, impeccable suits and touches of fur and exotic skins.
LAM: It sounds amazing. Historically, the House of Ferragamo is influenced by art – is that still the case?
MF: Throughout my father’s career, he was keenly aware of contemporary art and cinema, both of which he tapped for inspiration. Today, the interaction between fashion, culture and contemporary art is very much a fact of life, and Ferragamo continues to be extremely committed to exposing art and culture through corporate patronage. We also eliminate the boundaries between art and commerce quite literally, by bringing art into the retail space. Our flagship stores in key markets such as New York, Tokyo and Seoul contain devoted gallery space for exhibitions and special events, and in 1995 we opened the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum at our headquarters in Florence, which has mounted numerous important contemporary art shows. So yes, art continues to be an integral part of the brand’s focus.
LAM: Most people may not know that in over 50 years, Salvatore Ferragamo has created more than 20,000 models of footwear and created over 350 patents, which are preserved in the central state archive in Rome. Tell me about the importance of good design.
MF: My father was famous for his innovative shoe design, and always sought to push the boundaries of what was possible, using unconventional materials and creating completely new silhouettes. He invented the wedge, for example, in 1936 when he couldn’t access high-grade steel to use in the shanks of his heels due to the Ethiopian War, and in 1947 he won the prestigious Neiman Marcus Award – the Oscar of fashion – for his ‘invisible’ sandal with uppers made of nylon thread. Perhaps even more significantly, he studied human anatomy out of a desire to reconcile comfort with creativity in his designs. That is, I believe, still the key to ‘good design’ – a perfect balance between form and function.
LAM: You’re right – form really does follow function. So, if a man bought one new piece of clothing every year to update his wardrobe, what would you recommend?
MF: Well, one can never have too many pairs of shoes, so I would start there. Although the silhouette of a jacket is probably the first thing that changes from season to season.
LAM: Who, of the movie star set these days, do you think has really great style?
MF: Personally, I prefer it when the man or woman wears the clothes… not the other way around. Sometimes celebrities can look rather over-styled, but actors such as George Clooney, Terence Howard, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman always look effortlessly glamorous.