Salvatore Ferragamo

Breathtaking Handmade Italian Shoes

Salvatore Ferragamo (June 5, 1898 – August 7, 1960) was an Italian shoe designer. He worked with many Hollywood stars in the 1920s, before returning to Italy to found the eponymous company making unique handmade footwear. His scientific and creative approach to shoes spawned many innovations such as the wedge heel and cage heel. Film stars and celebrities continue to patronize his company, which has evolved into a luxury goods empire spanning the world.

Salvatore Ferragamo born in 1898 in Bonito, near Avellino, the eleventh of 14 children. After making his first pair of shoes at nine for his sisters to wear at their confirmation, young Salvatore decided that he had found his calling.

After studying shoemaking in Naples for a year, Ferragamo opened a small store based in his parent’s home. In 1914, he emigrated to Boston, where one of his brothers worked in a cowboy boot factory. After a brief stint at the factory, Ferragamo convinced his brothers to move 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, which soon became prized items among celebrities of the day, leading to a long period 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.

After spending thirteen years in the United States, Ferragamo returned to Italy in 1927, this time settling in Florence. He began to fashion shoes for the wealthiest and most powerful women of the century, from the Maharani of Cooch Behar to Eva Peron to Marilyn Monroe. He opened a workshop in the Via Mannelli, concentrating his efforts in experimenting with design, applying for patents for ornamental and utility models and some related inventions. Although he filed for bankruptcy in 1933 due to bad management and economic pressures, Ferragamo nonetheless expanded his operation during the 1950’s to a workforce of around 700 expert artisans that produced 350 pairs of handmade shoes a day.

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Salvatore Ferragamo – Breathtaking Handmade Italian Shoes
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