The House of Ferragamo initially introduced a long line of perfumes and colognes in 1998. Available for both men and women, Ferragamo’s fragrance line has experienced enough popularity to continually expand with newer and fresher scents.
Born in the tiny village of Bonito, near Naples, in 1898, Ferragamo Salvatore was the eleventh of fourteen children. The young and ambitious Salvatore came from a very poor family that couldn’t even afford to buy shoes for his. Salvatore made the shoes for them, and thus found his calling. He was only nine at the time.
At the young age of fourteen he opened his first shoe shop in his parent’s house. But then in 1914, he decided to move to America, where there were more opportunities, to join his brothers in Boston. Soon after he went to California he began to make shoes for the American Film Company.
‘Shoemaker of the Stars’
Called the ‘Shoemaker of the Stars’, Salvatore made cowboy boots for Cecil B. de Mille, beautiful shoes for such stars as Audrey Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich, and the famous ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz (1939).
As he thought that shoes should not only be lovely to look at but comfortable to wear as well, he studied anatomy University of Southern California, and then designed the steel arch support so that shoes could give better support to the feet and the body. Probably his most famous invention is wedge. It can be seen at the Ferragamo Museum in Florence, housed in the Palazzo Spini Feroni in Piazza della Trinità.
His other inventions included the famous stiletto heel, which was worn by Marilyn Monroe. After he returned to Italy in 1927, and set himself up in Florence. In 1929, he established a workshop at Via Manelli. At this time, there was a shortage of raw materials, so he got creative and used leather substitutes like corks of wine bottles sewn together and then lined with leather to create heels. These became his famous cork wedge. He also used bakelite and wooden soles. Some of his shoes were decorated with tiny glass mirrors. Some were painted all different colors. The influences he used ranged from wrought iron balconies to small mosaics in Italian palaces to cubism and the fashionable Art Deco. He also patented his many designs.
Forced to file for bankruptcy in 1933, he overcame this and he once again opened his store in Florence where his shoes were made by 700 expert shoemakers. They made 350 pairs a day, all by hand.
Although Salvatore died in 1960 when he was only 62, the famous House of Ferragamo is now a huge business, which sells many other goods, such as beautiful gloves, scarves, soft leather, and a large range of clothes, as well as shoes. Its centre is still the medieval Spini Ferroni building in Florence. The company has grown tremendously and retails through stores worldwide, from the United States to Asia, the brand is present in almost all the big fashion destinations.