| ICONIC EXHIBITION | Asia Bernardini
Palazzo Spini Feroni has been the headquarters of the Ferragamo Maison since 1938, and today is also a splendid museum. Overlooking Piazza Santa Trinita and the heart of Florentine shopping, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum is must-see stop to discover the genius of a man who created the legend of Made in
Italy. The new Sustainable Thinking exhibition is on display from April 12, 2019 to March 8, 2020 – as Museum Director, Dr. Stefania Ricci describes.
What unites the insights of Salvatore Ferragamo, founder of the eponymous fashion house, with the most recent experiments in “green” fashion?
Since the 1920s, Salvatore Ferragamo experimented with natural and unusual materials, intensifying his search in the ‘30s. Those models created by Ferragamo at that time could be considered sustainable nowadays, although at that time there was no talk of environmental protection. The use of innovative fibers and fabrics was imposed by nationalist propaganda during fascism in favor of Italian materials. Their use was then reinforced by economic sanctions imposed on the country from 1935 and the outbreak of war, which limited the use of leather to military boots. Ferragamo began using paper, cork, felt, raffia, fish skin, and cellophane. His passion for materials continued into the 1950s, with newgeneration materials like nylon. Salvatore Ferragamo is an example of how creativity and art can be stimulated and have great results, even during a time when it was difficult to find the usual materials for shoe manufacturing. The parallel between past, present and future is a fundamental concept for the culture of the Ferragamo company and also for its museum. An example of this link is represented by the Rainbow Future sandal, a 100% sustainable re-edition of the historic model that Ferragamo created for Judy Garland. It is an important link with the most modern “green” experiments.
What is the exhibition like?
A touchscreen shows a summary of the main themes linked to sustainability in the fashion and materials sector, and then the exhibition has been organized into 10 sections. In the first section, an artistic metaphor of global pollution is presented with a work by Pascale Marthine Tayou: Invasion, while a piece by Joseph Beuys offers a glimpse of the past with the artist’s direct experimentation with nature through the work “Defense of Nature.” The second section is dedicated to the models made by Salvatore Ferragamo in the ‘30s and ‘40s using materials and techniques that today would be considered sustainable. The sections Transformation, Craftsmanship and Social Fashion, Weaving, Social Innovation, and Innovation offer important food for thought on the use of new
materials, new production techniques and the involvement of the social sphere in the fashion world. The section Art, Technology and Science is exemplified in a synergic ménage with works by Tomàs Saraceno and his video Aerocene on flight without fuel experiments The project features contributions from scientists, technicians, and professionals in the sector. Section nine is dedicated to a fundamental concept for the Ferragamo company, that of social responsibility and respect for diversity. These issues are aimed at highlighting a very important aspect in the development of future societies, companies and their management, that is to say that set of practices and policies aimed at enhancing diversity within an environment, whether at work or not – whether it be diversity in gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origins, culture, physical abilities, etc. – supporting different lifestyles and responding to their different needs. This part of the project involved Ferragamo employees, and thanks also go to two Dutch artists Ari Versluis & Ellie Uyttenbroek, who have been working on the art project Exactitudes for years. In the project, diversity among people is celebrated in a series of photographs – matched in a sort of dress code, derived not only from dress and style preference but also from similar facial features, facial expressions, and attitudes. In the last section the focus is on nature, which – together with new processing techniques – can offer us an enormous possibility of accomplishment. Since the project focuses on “contemporaneity” the exhibit’s itinerary doesn’t follow a true chronological order, and its goal is to propose a positive approach for the creation of a better world.
Paul Andrew, Creative Director of Ferragamo since February 2019, has created a jersey dress made from plastic bottles. What are the future goals to be achieved?
The company is constantly on the lookout for innovative, sustainable, and high-quality materials that can be used within each collection. Undoubtedly the long-term goal is to create the best products with the least possible impact on the environment. The use of sustainable materials was promoted at the second edition of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards on September 23, 2018 in Milan’s historic Teatro alla Scala where actress Elizabeth Chambers wore a dress made by Paul Andrew, the Creative Director of the Salvatore Ferragamo company. It was a jersey dress made from a special material, perPETual, that takes its name from the raw material it is made of: plastic recovered from the seas and transformed into yarn through a patented polymerization process.
A mission is fulfilled only when it is accepted by the final consumer. What is the task of a stylist?
Surely the future of sustainability is represented by a product’s traceability, or rather the possibility for the consumer to trace the path of the product from raw material to completion.
What does the Maison foresee from this initiative?
The goal is to spread to a wider audience than that of just fashion world insiders, the new challenge that the fashion industry is facing, in order to create a better future for new generations.
The company has several different training initiatives on sustainability planned for the next few years, aimed not only at employees but also at stakeholders. In the product sector, research will continue on new sustainable materials which will be highlighted in new capsule collections. A series of corporate action and training will also be carried out, such as participation at seminars related to the theme of sustainability and collaboration with universities, academies, and specialized institutions.