Florence is arguably one of the most fashionable locations in Italy, a hub of artisanship and design that dates back to Renaissance times.
One of the biggest names is undoubtedly Ferragamo, who have their store, headquarters and museum in their stunning historical palace in the city centre of Florence.
With our ArtViva Tours office just around the corner, we regularly visit the Ferragamo store and museum, being one of our favourite fashion locations in town.
On the ground floor is the extensive shop, vending exquisite footwear, stylish clothing and superb accessories. Wandering through these spaces is almost magical, with its perfect combination between top fashion and the historic charm and elegance of the Ferragamo palace.
Downstairs rather is the stunning Ferragamo Museum.
Stepping into this unique space, you find a range of wooden cobbler shoe forms of some of the biggest stars of all times – from Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Lauren Bacall through to more modern times with the likes of Drew Barrymore.
Then there is the assortment of shoes dating back through the history of Ferragamo, with his unique and visionary use of different materials, textures, colours and styles coming together in an exquisite collection.
Another area houses avant-garde outfits from various eras.
Wandering through the different spaces, we even had the privilege of meeting the charming and remarkably elegant Mrs Wanda Miletti Ferragamo, who married Salvatore in 1940.
Salvatore Ferragamo was born in 1898 near Naples, where he began an apprenticeship with a cobbler at the age of just 11 years. Moving to California and then Hollywood in the early 1920s, he quickly got his foot (and shoes) in the door of the film industry, rapidly establishing himself as “Shoemaker to the Stars”.
At the same time, he undertook studies in human anatomy and chemical engineering to better understand the mechanics behind the creation of the perfect footwear.
Despite his success, he shut up (shoe) shop to return to Italy in 1927. He chose Florence, with its long history in fashion and artisanship, for his new home.
Ferragamo quickly created a great export business, shipping his carefully created wares back to America to great success.
With the economic crisis causing him to have to close his stores, Ferragamo found a new market domestically. He eventually built his business back up and bought Palazzo Spini Feroni, which remains to this day the Ferragamo headquarters.
Salvatore Ferragamo passed away in 1960. Since that time, his family has stroven (and succeeded) in building up the business to create the international fashion brand that it is today.
Join our most stylish tour guides on our My Exclusive Florence Fashion Museum Tour