Salvatore Ferragamo: The Life of a Shoemaking Legend Through Old Photos


More than a century ago, in the middle of bustling Hollywood Boulevard, a man with a dream and a passion for shoes opened a small, unassuming shop.

Salvatore Ferragamo's journey began here, but his story soon took on a mythological tone.

Located directly opposite the iconic Egyptian Theatre, Ferragamo's store soon became synonymous with Hollywood glamour, earning him the coveted title of "shoemaker to the stars".

Ferragamo shoes were not just shoes; They were works of art that graced the finest stages of the silver screen.

Their innovative designs and impeccable craftsmanship set them apart, making their name synonymous with luxury and sophistication.

His creations adorned the most famous people in Hollywood, from Marilyn Monroe to Audrey Hepburn, and left a significant mark on the fashion world.

Born in 1898 into a modest family in Bonito, Italy, Salvatore Ferragamo was the eleventh child of fourteen siblings of Antonio and Mariantonia Ferragamo (both of whom had the same surname, as was often the case in small Italian towns).

Her early passion for shoe making became evident when, at just nine years old, she made her first pair of shoes: a set of high heels for herself and a matching pair for her sisters to wear at their confirmations.

This experience sparked a lifelong passion in Salvatore, making him realize that shoe making was his true vocation.

After studying shoemaking for a year in Naples, fourteen-year-old Ferragamo opened a small store in his parents' home.

In 1915, he immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts, where one of his brothers worked in a cowboy boot factory.

After a brief stint at the factory, Ferragamo persuaded his brothers to join him in California, settling first in Santa Barbara and later moving to Hollywood.

It was in Hollywood that Ferragamo initially achieved success by opening a shop specializing in shoe repair and making made-to-measure shoes.

After spending thirteen years in America, Ferragamo, now thirty years old, returned to Italy in 1927 and chose Florence as his new home.

There, he began making shoes for notable women such as the Maharani of Cooch Behar, Eva Peron and Marilyn Monroe.

He opened a workshop in Via Mainelli, experimenting with designs, while applying for patents for his innovations.

Despite facing bankruptcy in 1933 due to financial mismanagement and economic challenges, he managed to revive his business in the 1950s.

By then, he had expanded his operations to employ 700 artisans who carefully crafted 350 pairs of shoes by hand each day.

Salvatore Ferragamo created "The Rainbow" in 1938, symbolizing the resurgence of the platform shoe in the modern Western world.

This iconic platform sandal was specially designed for the famous American singer and actress Judy Garland.

This shoe was an homage to Garland's signature song "Over the Rainbow", performed in the feature film The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The shoe was crafted using shaped slabs of cork covered with suede with gold baby-skin straps. He was inspired to experiment with new materials to find materials that were not rationed during World War II.

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