Paul Andrew and Guillaume Meilland, Ferragamo’s respective women’s and men’s creative directors, are two lovely, incredibly charming guys. Yet their spring show was akin to a dinner party thrown by fabulous, charismatic hosts whose spaghetti was served woefully overcooked.
Andrew has been at the brand for two years, though spring was only his second time steering the ready-to-wear as well as the accessories. During a preview a few days before the show, he was candid about his expertise being in shoes, not clothes, and there’s a learning curve. To that end, he was wise to start designing from the foot up, noting that the house has a 15,000-shoe archive for him to ply. That’s a staggering number of old shoes. Andrew made interesting choices. An archival style with a woven upper was spun into woven flat booties and clog-like sandals. There were sculptural heels, some inspired by Brancusi, platform thongs that looked like Japanese geta, and new takes on the signature Vara bow pump with a low heel, molded hardware bow and wrapped ankle straps. The less clunky, the better, though those were in the minority.
Likewise the clothes. Andrew and Meilland synchronized on everything. Their palette — dusty neutrals and rich jewel tones — was appealing. Their fabrics — snakeskin, duchesse, intensely woven linen and canvas — luxurious. “It all begins with leather,” said Andrew. “Leather ready-to-wear is something I feel Guillaume and I should own.” It was a nice thought, but leather clothes, such as dresses, handkerchief skirts, Bermuda shorts and overalls are tricky. It worked better on the men’s wear. Even when the hand was lightweight, many of the fabrics looked leaden on the oversize utilitarian proportions. When a sparrow of a thing like Kaia Gerber becomes a wall of hot-pink duchesse satin, there’s an issue.
Andrew pointed out that Ferragamo is a 1 billion-euro business, so something about it works. “The idea that I would throw the baby out with the bathwater is just not happening here,” he said. Maybe that’s true, but he and Meilland would do well to reassess what’s the baby and what’s the bathwater.