Fiamma Ferragamo

Fiamma was born on September 3, 1941, the eldest daughter of Salvatore and Wanda Ferragamo. She undertook classical studies but stopped after two years, invited by her father to join him in the company. She was 16 when she started working with him, entering the world of footwear design and production. Looking at his father's work, she assimilated fundamental techniques. Salvatore was attentive to the anatomy of the foot, to which the shoe had to respond, and not just to the design. He personally supervised the creation of the prototypes and hand-shaped the wooden lasts on which to build the models. This know-how impressed very much the young Fiamma, fueling her curiosity and passion for footwear.

When Ferragamo died, Fiamma was 19 years old. She was the only one in the family to have worked alongside her father and so she supported her mother in the reorganization of the activities, becoming an ambassador of the Ferragamo style, together with her sister Giovanna who designed clothing. In an era in which female managers were not a common thing, Fiamma embodies a unique and personal model thanks to her enthusiastic and demanding nature, her great determination and strong creativity - qualities inherited from her parents.

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Fiamma Ferragamo photographed by David Lees at Palazzo Spini Feroni, Florence, 1967

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Fiamma Ferragamo receives the Neiman Marcus Award with Lydia di Roma, Giancarlo Venturini, Valentino and Emilio Pucci, Dallas, 1967


Fiamma Ferragamo in the Sala Consiglio at the first floor of Palazzo Spini Feroni, Florence, 1980s

Shortly thereafter, even the younger siblings joined the company, each encouraged to follow their talent, an aspect that led to the birth of new production sectors. Salvatore's dream not only survived the death of the founder but expanded and consolidated its international dimension.

On February 9, 1967 in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton-Dallas Hotel, in Dallas (USA), Fiamma received the Neiman Marcus Award, the famous Oscar of fashion bestowed to his father twenty years earlier, with the motivation of having "brought a new dimension to the name Ferragamo thanks to the originality and freshness of its design". Together with her other designer received the award: Lydia of Rome, Venturini of Lucca and Emilio Pucci on behalf of all the Florentine artisans damaged by the Florence flood in 1966. The prestigious magazine Life dedicated one of her covers to Fiamma, she was 24-year-old.

The Neiman Marcus is just the first of a long list of awards and honors bestowed on Fiamma Ferragamo in her lifetime. In 1969 she received the Saks Fifth Avenue Award; in 1988 she is nominated Designer of the Year by the American Footwear News and in February 1993 she received the Fashion Footwear Association of New York Medal of Honor. In addition, she was first President of the Tuscan delegation of FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano), member of the Bank of Italy Regency Council and member of the board of the Florence Center for Italian Fashion.

Salvatore Ferragamo's creations are recognized as true works of art of the twentieth century, but Fiamma’s impact on the history of fashion is also very important, as she created iconic models such as the shoe with the Vara bow.

Fiamma herself told the story of the famous shoe, which dates back to 1978, in an interview: “When it was created, the boutique collection did not have a style that could be both casual and elegant. The designers began working on a shape that we had been testing for a few seasons and that was known to be comfortable, with a low heel and a round toe. A small oval plaque was added to the prototype, along with a bow improvised with a piece of gros grain ribbon found in the atelier. It seemed like a good idea and we decided to give the shoe to the designer, asking him to make the bow in the same leather as the upper. But there was a misunderstanding and the bow stayed in gros grain”. Since then, Vara production has never stopped and over one million pairs have been sold. An absolute record in its category.

In 1965, Fiamma decided to start to design and production of bags and small leather goods, as complementary accessories to footwear. The first press article featuring a Salvatore Ferragamo bag dates 1969. Over time, these accessories became more and more significant in the brand's production offer. In 1972, the prestigious American magazine Women’s Wear Daily published a shot of a Ferragamo bag with a hook-shaped metal accessory of closure. It was the first time that "Gancini" appeared, destined to become a symbol of the brand widely used on leather accessories, footwear, and scarves.

Just like her father Fiamma meticulously kept prototypes products and documents related to her work. In 1985 she was among the promoters of the first retrospective dedicated to Salvatore Ferragamo, held in 1985 at Palazzo Strozzi, in Florence. For the first time in Italy, fashion products were exhibited as artworks. The exhibition, entitled Leaders of Fashion. Salvatore Ferragamo 1989-1960 (curated by Cristina Aschengreen Piacenti and Stefania Ricci), became itinerant and was hosted by important international museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, the Sogetsu Kai Foundation of Tokyo, the Museo de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. The success of the initiative pushed the family to embrace the idea of ​​setting up a real company museum. In particular, Fiamma guided this project, making use of professional historians’ and archivists’ skills for the establishment of the Salvatore Ferragamo archive and the opening of the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in 1995.

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The catalogue of the first exhibition at Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, 1995


To Fiamma, who died prematurely at the age of 57 the 28 of September 1998, is dedicated the new Ferragamo archive, opened in 2020.