IF THE SHOE FITS: Olivier Saillard would appear to have a bit of a footwear fetish. A week after presenting a collection of customized vintage designs for J.M. Weston, for which he is artistic, image and culture director, the fashion historian presented an installation he curated for a collection of limited-edition designs reprised from Salvatore Ferragamo’s archives.
“Exhibiting shoes is always pleasant, much more so than clothes, because they’re like little sculptures,” Saillard said at a cocktail held in the brand’s Avenue Montaigne boutique Monday evening. “I’ve loved going back to what I did at the [Palais Galliera] museum.”
The 12 designs in the “Jamais Reproduits” (never reproduced, in English) collection — most from the Twenties to the Sixties — were created by Salvatore Ferragamo and his daughter Fiamma, and have never been reproduced before. They include the 1947 design Invisibile 2, made using fishing line at a time of post-war leather shortages and winner of the Neiman Marcus Award at the time, and the Acrobata, a 1967 stretch boot.
“We wanted to do something that represents our creativity,” explained James Ferragamo, grandson of the company’s founder and director of its shoes and leather goods activities. “That creativity started with my grandfather, continued with my aunt, and it’s prevalent throughout the collections.” The Invisible design is his personal favorite. “My grandfather would never be set back by the moment,” he said.
For the presentation, the shoes were presented in box-like displays designed to look like movie sets.
“We invented these cases like little Cinecittà studios, because several of the designs belonged to famous actresses, so we created an atmosphere inspired by movies, from Hitchcock and Fellini, for example,” Saillard said.
His favorite shoe in the collection is the 1924 Opera design, a patchwork sandal in red suede and gold napa leather. “They’re very representative of Ferragamo, who in the Thirties, Forties, Fifties, was to shoes what Balenciaga was to fashion. He invented the art of shoes in a country that was a fashion desert. His savoir-faire was remarkable.
“Now that I have more knowledge about how shoes are made, I realize how rich his savoir-faire was.”
He continued, “You can be dressed any way you like, if you have a beautiful pair of shoes, the rest is irrelevant. It’s like a pedestal for a sculpture, it allows everything else to express itself.”
One-hundred pairs of each model have been produced, presented with a certificate explaining their history. Available now to order, they will arrive for sale in the brand’s stores in Paris, Florence, London and New York as well as at 10 Corso Como in Milan in around a month’s time.