The Ferragamo case, Across art and Fashion, Salvatore Ferragamo Museum

This first section of the exhibition is dedicated to Salvatore Ferragamo and his footwear, already judged in the 1930s as artifacts of artistic value, referring to a concept of art that focused attention on technical mastery as well as conceptual creativity. In his work, Ferragamo took the Renaissance artistic workshop as a model, of which there were numerous testimonies in Florence and proudly claimed the role of the craftsman-artist, dear to tradition. A video installation compares footwear with their source of inspiration, the classical world, the east, the artistic avant-gardes of the twentieth century, Surrealism but also the artisan culture of the city.

The footwear collection, used by the museum, documents Salvatore Ferragamo’s entire span of activity, from his return to Italy in 1927 until 1960, the year of his death, highlighting Salvatore’s technical and artistic ability, who through the choice of colors, the imagination of the models and the experimentation of the materials, he was able to offer a fundamental contribution to the development and affirmation of the “Made in Italy”.

It is made up of models that demonstrate Salvatore Ferragamo’s relationship with the artists of the time, such as the futurist painter Lucio Venna, author of some advertising sketches and the well-known Ferragamo footwear label; others prove the continuous search for the perfect fit and the invention of particular constructions and the use of materials, from the famous cork ” wedge “, patented in 1936 and immediately copied all over the world, to raffia or cellophane uppers, the paper for sweets, adopted during the Second World War period. There are also shoes famous for being created for Hollywood stars, such as Marilyn Monroe,Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn.

The collection is also enriched by the production of footwear following Salvatore Ferragamo’s death up to the present day. Every year, in fact, some representative models of the season become part of the Salvatore Ferragamo archive, from which the museum draws for its exhibitions.

The room also displays the original advertising sketches, created by the futurist painter Lucio Venna in the 1930s to promote Ferragamo footwear, the models created for intellectuals and artists and the painting by Kenneth Noland of the late 1950s, which suggested to Ferragamo a decorative element of a model and its name

A simple question conceals the complex universe of an articulated relationship that has long been investigated, but without arriving at a clear and unequivocal definition.

This project analyses the forms of dialogue between these two worlds: reciprocal inspirations, overlaps and collaborations, from the experiences of the Pre-Raphaelites to those of Futurism, and from Surrealism to Radical Fashion.

‘Pisanello’ court cape
The cape inspired by Pisanello, on generous loan from Palazzo Pitti’s Costume Gallery, is displayed alongside contemporary clothing inspired by other famous work of art in a room wall-papered with an article penned by Sergio Tofano, which appeared in Lidel in 1920, where the renowned illustrator imagined Italian clothing made in the style of Beato Angelico’s and Masaccio’s frescoes.

The video of the Florence Art and Fashion Biennale in 1996, directed by GermanoCelant, Ingrid Sischy and Luigi Settembrini, serves as a sounding board for this idea. Involving 40 international names in the arts and 38 in fashion, this film explored and revealed how they influenced one another, the creative relationship between fashion and the visual arts, design, architecture, film, photography, clothing and history, drawing the public’s attention to this theme.

Rosa Genoni, ‘Pisanello’ court cape, 1906, silk velvet with embroidery and lace appliqués, metal thread fringe, cylindrical and round beads. Florence, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Galleria del Costume di Palazzo Pitti.

Across art and Fashion
is fashion art? A simple question conceals the complex universe of an articulated relationship that has long been investigated, but without arriving at a clear and unequivocal definition. This project analyses the forms of dialogue between these two worlds: reciprocal inspirations, overlaps and collaborations, from the experiences of the Pre-Raphaelites to those of Futurism, and from Surrealism to Radical Fashion. The exhibition itinerary focuses on the work of Salvatore Ferragamo, who was fascinated and inspired by the avant-garde art movements of the 20th century, on several ateliers of the Fifties and Sixties that were venues for studies and encounters, and on the advent of the culture of celebrities. It then examines the experimentation of the Nineties and goes on to ponder whether in the contemporary cultural industry we can still talk about two separate worlds or if we are instead dealing with a fluid interplay of roles.

This simple question hides the complex universe of an articulated relationship, which has been investigated for a long time over time, without ever reaching a clear or unambiguous definition. Fashion – for its need to be functional and therefore to refer concretely to real life, as well as for its link with craftsmanship and industry – seems to be far from the ideal of art pour arte, a concept that however, it was not always representative even of the art world. Andy Warhol taught us that the uniqueness of the work of art no longer coincides with the artistic production and today the exhibitions of fashion designers proliferate and stylists welcome the practices of contemporary art with availability. Is it still possible, in this context, to speak of the dichotomy between art and fashion as happened in the last century?

This project analyzes the forms of dialogue between these two worlds: contaminations, overlaps and collaborations. From the experiences of the Pre-Raphaelites to those of Futurism, from Surrealism to Radical Fashion. The path focuses on the work of Salvatore Ferragamo, fascinated and inspired by the artistic avant-garde of the twentieth century; on some ateliers of the fifties and sixties, a place of study and meetings, and on the birth of the culture of celebrity, to continue with the experiments of the nineties and get to wonder if in the contemporary cultural industry we can still talk about two worlds distinct, or if instead we are faced with a fluid game of roles.

The peculiarity of the exhibition plan lies in the collaboration of several cultural institutions and in the location of the exhibition in various locations: in addition to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, promoter and organizer of the project together with the Ferragamo Foundation, they host the various exhibitions in Florence, the Central National Library, the Galleries degli Uffizi (Modern Art Gallery of Palazzo Pitti), the Marino Marini Museum and, in Prato, the Textile Museum

The institutions involved actively participated in the realization of the idea, with the aim of inviting a common reflection.

It is a tribute to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum that curated and conceived the project and a symbol: on the one hand a decorative element, essential to the aesthetics of a 1958 model by Salvatore Ferragamo, the Tirassegno décolleté, and on the other a work by one of the great American artists of the second half of the twentieth century, Kenneth Noland, who was an inspiration.

The exhibition at the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum has four curators, Stefania Ricci, director of the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum, Maria Luisa Frisa, Enrica Morini, Alberto Salvadori, who with their different skills and personalities have collaborated day after day in the construction of the route, together with the directors and to the managers of the various institutions who participated in the initiative with enthusiasm and spirit of collaboration and to the authors of the catalog, who helped the curators in the final choice of the works, making available their knowledge and their professional experiences. There are many loans from the most prestigious public and private collections, national and international, which give the exhibition an international feel

Salvatore Ferragamo Museum
The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence, Italy is a fashion museum dedicated to the life and work of Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo and his eponymous company. The museum contains 10,000 models of shoes created and owned by Ferragamo from the 1920s until his death in 1960. Following Ferragamo’s death the collection was expanded by his widow and children. The museum also includes films, press cuttings, advertising materials, clothes and accessories from the 1950s to the present day.

The Ferragamo family founded the museum in May 1995 to acquaint an international audience with the artistic qualities of Salvatore Ferragamo and the role he played in the history of not only shoes but international fashion as well.

Like most corporate museums, Museo Salvatore Ferragamo and its archives stem from the vision of an entrepreneur, in this case Salvatore Ferragamo’s widow, Wanda, who has headed the company since the founder’s death in 1960, and her six children. In particular, the eldest of their children, Fiamma, who managed the company’s core footwear and leather goods business after her father’s death, stood at this project’s helm on behalf of her family and brought it to life, shaping its strategy with the assistance of historians and archivists.

The idea for the museum initially came about when an exhibition was organised at Palazzo Strozzi on the history of Salvatore Ferragamo. The exhibition went on tour and was hosted by some of the world’s most prestigious museums, such as the Victoria and Albert in London, the County Museum of Los Angeles, the New York Guggenheim, the Sogetsu Kai Foundation in Tokyo, and the Museo de Bellas Artes in Mexico. The temporary exhibition gradually became permanent.

In recognition of the museum’s cultural importance and that of its many initiatives over the years, in 1999, Salvatore Ferragamo received the Guggenheim Impresa e Cultura Award, given annually to companies that best invest in culture to constructive ends. The museum is located in the historical centre of Florence, in Palazzo Spini Ferroni, which has also been the company’s headquarters since 1938.