Giovanna Ferragamo: Quiet Italian Elegance
giovanna ferragamo in 1969
The label: Iconic Italian fashion brand Salvatore Ferragamo
History: Salvatore Ferragamo was an Italian shoe designer who came to fame in the 1920s by handcrafting footwear for many Hollywood stars.
The company: He launched his signature fashion house in Florence in 1927, pairing fine craftsmanship with scientific innovations including the wedge and cage heel. He spent a year studying anatomy at the University of Southern California to understand how to make beautiful footwear more comfortable to wear.
The world’s most powerful women: Salvatore began by catering to the world’s wealthiest women including Eva Peron and Maharani of Cooch Behar. He continuously innovated applying for patents for ornamentation and experimented with luxury materials.
A global brand: It was in the 1950s when Ferragamo radically expanded his operations hiring 700 expert artisans who crafted 350 handmade shoes daily. Sadly, he passed away in 1960 at the age of 62.
The next generation: His wife Wanda, and six children (Fiamma, Giovanna, Fulvia, Furruccio, Massimo and Leonardo) would go on to run the company and build it into an international luxury brand that encompasses footwear, fragrance, eyewear, ready-to-wear, watches, accessories and bags.
A private company: Unlike most luxury brands today which are owned by big conglomerates, Ferragamo remains privately owned and family-run.
Giovanna: Mrs. Ferragamo is vice-president of Ferragamo Financziaria SpA and oversees all fragrance creations from the house.
Luxury hotels: Although not well-known, the family runs a number of exquisite luxury hotels that are renowned for their discreet service and attention to detail.
The Giovanna Ferragamo interview:
The Ferragamo head office in Florence is located in a converted castle. My favourite room is up on the third floor of Palazzo Spini Feroni which overlooks the Arno River. It has a beautiful view of the Lungarno’s and Ponte Vecchio Bridge. This was my father’s favourite office at one time and I have special memories of watching him late in the afternoon as he was creating new styles of shoes. He’d pull pieces of leather on the wooden lasts and fix them with nails that he would keep in his mouth, as most shoemakers were doing at the time.
I created Ferragamo’s first women’s prêt-a-porter collection in 1967. It was such a big challenge and a nightmare at the same time. I felt a great responsibility in trying to succeed in “dressing” shoes that were famous worldwide.
Right now, my favourite fragrance is Signorina. I am really enjoying wearing it.
My favourite artist is Leonardo da Vinci, not only for his fabulous paintings but for his geniality and creativity.
Borgo San Jacopo is my restaurant of choice in Florence. You can taste authentic Italian food and excellent Tuscan wines in a relaxed but sophisticated atmosphere.
In summer, I like to vacation with my family in Capri, where I have a summer house.
The inspiration of Signorina’s packaging came from one of our most iconic products, that Varina shoe. We thought that out of all our iconic symbols, the Vara bow had a fresh and young feel so we decided to recreate the concept in the perfume’s packaging, adding an elegant and delicate pink touch and then designing the bottle to resemble a jewelry case.
Working at Ferragamo carries great responsibility for family members. The company has expanded greatly in the last decades and our family has grown considerably in size. So for the next generation, there are some rules to consider before entering into the company which also includes outside work experience.
I drive a Volkswagen Golf.
I would say that Italian women in general are very chic. This is due to originality, access to craftsmanship, their intuition and artistic background.
Salvatore took great pride that Hollywood stars desired to wear his shoes. I think he’d be most proud of the fact that many celebrities today are still walking and choosing his brand name. That would really please him.
When creating a fragrance, we always take inspiration from the world of Ferragamo fashion and from the roots of the brand. We see it as a brand of timeless elegance and sophistication for customers with an innate taste for beautiful Italian objects. It takes a great deal of time and effort to contextualize the concept of our fashion creations. But we insist on using genuine ingredients to create timeless and valuable fragrances.
I don’t know if I can pick one particular moment that has been a highlight of working in the family company. I would say I have been lucky enough to enjoy many special moments along the way.
Ferragamo fragrances are available in Canada at Hudson’s Bay stores and thebay.com