“There are lots of firsts in this show,” mused Paul Andrew backstage before tonight’s Salvatore Ferragamo men’s presentation in Florence. The word backstage doesn’t really fit the Palazzo Vecchio’s sumptuously frescoed courtyard, where the pre-show mayhem was in full swing.
“No fashion show has ever been allowed in Piazza della Signoria before,” said Andrew. “So this is definitely a major first.” It was also the first show with the designer in the role of creative director of both the men’s and women’s lines, and the first time that Ferragamo staged a fashion show in its hometown of Florence. The label contributed to the recently completed restoration of the majestic Fountain of Neptune, which dominates Piazza della Signoria, the city’s beating heart. “It was this idea of coming home for Ferragamo,” said Andrew. “I thought, how epic would it be doing my first men’s show during Pitti, which celebrates its 30 birthday this year, with this spectacular fountain as backdrop.”
A little ego trip definitely goes a long way. Though everyone thought the idea was bonkers, Andrew persisted and lots of lengthy negotiations with the city mayor ensued. “And voilà! Here we are,” he exclaimed. To top this magnificent location, only a fashion show in Rome’s Saint Peter’s Square would do, but negotiating with the Pope would probably be a much trickier matter.
As an homage to the city, a series of prints abstracting Neptune’s impressively toned torso graced a series of loose shirts and lightweight parachute parkas in delicate pastel hues. The charming, rather feminine color palette—neutral tones breaking into more vibrant shades of sky blue and orange, softened by hints of lavender, mint, and periwinkle—was one of the distinctive traits of the collection, which revolved around workwear templates rethought with a more formal, luxe flair, but without losing a sense of lightness.
While workwear conveyed the ideas of utility and comfort so paramount today, the obvious and ubiquitous sportswear inspiration was addressed obliquely, mostly in the use of high-tech fabrications of excellent quality and impeccable Italian craftsmanship. “It’s that mix of high-tech and high-craft that has become my shtick for Ferragamo,” said the designer. Actually, it’s a concept very much connected with Salvatore Ferragamo’s original philosophy; he was ahead of the game, using materials and experimenting with shapes never done before, but always rendered with the extraordinary artisanal finesse.
Working alongside the company’s men’s design director Guillaume Meilland, Andrew kept the play on shapes neat and graceful, infused with a kind of restrained gloss. Volumes were sleek and just slightly oversized, to highlight a dynamic sense of ease. The same spirit was also reflected in the women’s looks, almost with a unisex approach. Georgina Grenville looked gorgeous in a softly tailored periwinkle shorts suit, but it would’ve been equally smart on the actor Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Ralph and Joseph Fiennes’s genetically blessed nephew, who closed the show and will be the face of the new Ferragamo advertising campaign.
The young Fiennes was part of a diverse cast that included the actor Josh Lucas, the stunning model Cecilia Chancellor, Sotheby’s European Chairman Michael Berger-Sandhofer, and art director extraordinaire Peter Saville. From the front row, Stanley Tucci, surrounded by a plethora of glamorous young celebrities, seemed rather pleased.