Sleek. Ferragamo Pre-Fall 2023
A century after it’s launch, Ferragamo, the brand, has dropped the Salvatore from its name but nonetheless is looking at Hollywood just as its founder once did – in the hope of expansion, improvement, and scope. Following his quite promising debut in Milan in September, Maximilian Davis presented this first pre-fall collection for the brand in its headquarters there. He said: “There’s an image of LA and Hollywood where you kind of pan away from the city and you see the mountains, so you see the contrast of the mountains with the palm trees. So there was this idea of mixing hot and cold.” There was also the idea of insinuating Western dress into Davis’s Ferragamo mix, literally inspired by Salvatore’s work designing and making the footwear for 1923 silent movie The Covered Wagon. This translated into boots, of course, as well as some handsome denim pieces, some with a flocked, velvet finish which were occasionally translated into reproductions in dyed rib jersey. Davis further ruggedized his cleaner, minimal spring template with shaggy shearlings. Checks were used on viscose cady in scarf-dresses and shirting; along with the pleated minis these pieces were playing to audience demand. His eye for jewel-like embellishments and patches of minimal space landed this season upon polished metal or leather buckles, leather patches on leather skirting, as well as a fearsome gold handbag strap. Several stories from that debut season enjoyed sequel outings here, including the nylon casual outerwear looks and others accented in the fiery red which this designer is working to corral for the house. Eel skin was used to fashion sleek, overtly sensual pieces with a hint of kink that softly squeaked with movement. Davis said that building a VIP clientele, as Salvatore once did, is a key part of his strategy at Ferragamo.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Space Odyssey. Salvatore Ferragamo AW21
For autumn-winter 2021, Paul Andrew delivered the most unexpected collection for Salvatore Ferragamo. His vision for the brand was all about a formal-meets-casual wardrobe, kept luxurious and upscale. However, suiting mostly failed, and COVID just made it even less in demand. So it was a smart decision to stirr things in an attempt to catch the attention of a new customer. Andrew took Ferragamo to the outer space. “I believe that at Ferragamo we weren’t pushing boundaries enough, as the founder did,” said Andrew. “He was an incredible, forward-thinking force. This collection is an invitation to introduce the label to a younger audience. Embracing the mindset that Salvatore had is our key to the future.” The designer basically made a sci-fi movie – the video presenting the collection was an elaborate affair. A tour de force shot in virtual reality and CGI, loosely based on pre-millennial cult movie Gattaca, it had illuminated tunnels reminiscent of those trespassed by Uma Thurman; space ships coming past windows open onto a futuristic city; a circular rotating platform on which a glass prism refracted rays of light into a rainbow. “The rainbow is related to Ferragamo’s past, as Salvatore became famous for the rainbow wedges he created for Judy Garland,” explained the designer-turned-director. “And obviously the rainbow is a symbol of new positive beginnings.” Clothes-wise, Andrew proposed a play on classics seen through a technical, futuristic prism; elevated, slender uniforms were given a ‘younger’ vibe, lifted by a luminous, fluorescent color chart. He called some of the pieces ‘bionic’ – tight-fitting stretchy bodysuits and all-in-ones inspired by motorcycle suits – and had them layered under elongated, heat-processed, chrome-free-tanned leather coats; under pants or ponchos in clear biodegradable PVC; and complementing suit propositions in rubberized wool. Some of it looked great, some felt quite unedited, and some – out of place. The chainmail accents (kind of felt like Paco Rabanne landed in Florence?) and shaggy mohair fringing are exciting new additions, but I wonder if they really match a Ferragamo kind of person.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Balancing Act. Salvatore Ferragamo Pre-Fall 2021
Pre-fall 2021 collections are gradually popping up (yes, the industry still wants you to think about next year’s autumn in this year’s winter). Paul Andrew likes to put things in context; he has so far used films and historical locations to frame his fashion narrative. In keeping with that practice, he shot the Salvatore Ferragamo pre-fall lookbook in Florence at Manifattura Tabacchi, a former cigarette factory built in the modernist style of the 1940s, which was recently rescued from a state of disrepair to become Polimoda’s campus: “It’s a progressive, creative place full of life and enthusiasm, with lots of young people hanging around,” he told Vogue during a Zoom call from his Florentine studio. It proved an apt location to convey the collection’s feel. “I want to bring joy and beauty to this world.”Andrew isn’t alone in his desire for turning toward the positive; nor is he alone in the urge to contextualize collections within a larger frame. Social and cultural issues have become non-negotiable parameters for every fashion designer who wants his creative work to resonate with a broader audience. Customers more than ever buy into conscious creativity – ethical, responsible, value-driven. Andrew is playing his part, steering Ferragamo into sustainable territory and keeping his commitment to responsible practices – reducing waste by choosing deadstock leathers; using recycled nylons and certified natural fibers; editing collections with a tighter focus. Doing less but better has become his mantra, a belief that has him embracing a timeless, nondisposable aesthetic. Collections are built around high-quality investment pieces that have longevity and durability, while retaining a strong contemporary appeal. This pre-fall collection is a good example of his new approach. The chic purity of line and the slender construction Andrew favors looked timeless indeed; what made the offering distinctive was its focus on tactile leather dressing offered in many variations, highlighting the artisanal expertise of the Florentine house. Shapes and silhouettes for both the men’s and women’s lines conveyed a feel of ease and comfort, while retaining their sophistication. He didn’t shy away from the occasional statement piece either. Ample A-line and wrap dresses featured adjustable matching belts or scarves, changing them into more form-fitting shapes; slender tunics and elegant shirtdresses were often worn over matching trousers or lightweight cashmere leggings. A leather circle skirt patchworked in a bold geometric archival motif added a decorative flavor, as did the contrasting hand-painted edgings on a softly architectural nappa coat dress. “I’m really thinking of what customers will want and desire after this COVID nightmare will be over,” he mused. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that they’ll be back in stores and eager to be dressed up and to buy and invest in fashion. But they’re not going back to the old ways.” Things have to be shaken up and changed, then. “My feeling is that people will continue to be more casual, after months at home Zooming in their pajamas I’m not sure they’ll be suddenly dying to be in form-fitting garments again,” he said. “So it’s a balancing act. Whatever you do, there must be some casualness and ease combined with high-values and sophistication, refinement, beauty. But mostly, it has to have a certain vibrance – and to bring joy.”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.