Thursday, February 20, 2014

An Imeldific Trip to the Amazing Shoemaker

It was once said that there’s a little Imelda in all of us- a vain, delusional, shoe-crazed little goblin inside all of us. One day, that little goblin was desperate enough to prompt me to visit the Ferragamo Museum where all the prototype shoes of Hollywood stars, of the socialites, and of the vainglorious are preserved.

The museum was opened in 1995 to the public to show the younger generations the story of the famous shoemaker. It is housed in the Palazzo Spini- a medieval palace built by Pope Boniface VIII. In 1938 it was bought by Salvatore Ferragamo and since then it became his base and main boutique in Italy.

Salvatore was born in 1898 in Bonito, a small village in the south of Italy. Since he was young, he was very keen in shoemaking. Later on, he followed his older brothers in the United States to learn more about the art of making shoes. There he saw that American shoes lack inventiveness and the quality of Italian shoes. He decided to go back to his country to make better shoes without the help of machines.

In 1927, he set up business in Florence and trained apprentices with his own method of crafting shoes. His shoes were renowned not only for the beauty of their design but also for their comfort- they are lighter than other shoes.

He also opened a repair and made-to-measure shoe shops in the US, Hollywood in particular. His first clients were film directors. And it was there his fortune started and later he was dubbed as the shoemaker to the stars as actors and actresses began to order his shoes, such as Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and later on, the royal houses of Europe.

Some of the old shoes used by celebrities in their movies.

In the museum you will see the sketches of the shoe designs for certain stars and the recreation of their feet in wood. There’s a section that gives you the chance to admire the most fabulous shoes throughout different decades.

There are also interesting screenings of old and new movies where his shoes were employed.

No this is not Wicked. It's Anna Magnaini, famous Italian actress during the golden age of Italian cinema. Dunno why it's green.

Apart from design, his genius is reflected in the use of various materials in making shoes such as corks and tavarnelle lace (a Florentine type of lace) and his chromatic imaginations and the intense colors he uses.

His works were inspired by contemporary art and the artists of his time. It was the ultimate incarnation of the colorful strokes and images of great artists worn by the stars, the rich, and the lucky.

Even today, his legacy continues. But this time, his life, his genius and his shoes are the ones influencing the art and fashion of today.

If Imelda were here, she would be salivating profusely.

Unfortunately, I was able to shoot just a few photos because taking picture inside the museum wasn’t allowed.


  1. Thanks for the trip! Felt like I was there.... Totally, reading is the mind's eye :D

  2. i can even smell the leather here.. nice post.

    *just like Madam,I am drooling :)

  3. Gives me more reason to go back to Italy and this time, to visit museums rather than attend a conference. Will save so I can be there one of these summers.


Sige, sakayan niyo ang trip ko....