#SuzyMFW: Feet First? Or Not? Ferragamo And Tod’s

There are few major brands coming out of Italy that have not first connected with the shoe and handbag industries. Armani and Versace may have built their fashion reputations on clothing, but from Gucci to Prada the starting point was accessories. So what is the current view about building a business from the feet up?

Salvatore Ferragamo: Low-key luxury

When Paul Andrew was appointed design director for Ferragamo women’s shoes in 2016, he was following in the famous footsteps of Salvatore Ferragamo himself – shoemaker to the stars until his death in 1960. Since then, the family has built a strong accessories business but low-key clothing where the designers have always moved in tandem with the footwear.

Since the appointment of British-born, American-based Paul Andrew, the footwear guru has also taken over as creative director of the women’s fashion line, with colleague Guillaume Milland for the menswear.

The two designers stood backstage with Julianne Moore and Paul Andrew explained his thought process.

“We work in tandem to build the colour palette from the beginning,” said the designer, referring to his colleague. “That’s how we start. We have this Tuscan countryside feel that takes you out to the ocean with shades of blue.”

The designer continued: “The women’s collection was born with this shoe from 1940 that Salvatore created for the actress Loretta Young. She had a palm tree behind her that inspired the prints – and her tailored trousers had ease and volume.”

Sounds good. So what was the effect on the intermingled male/female runway? The arresting womenswear was about tailoring and colour: a precise coat in vermilion silk or a similar shape in turquoise satin. Dresses might also be patterned.

The shoes – for either sex – were not vividly coloured or fancy, although there might be an intervention of purple. The men’s footwear was often hidden as trousers formed puddles of fabric over the shoes.

But the shoe story runs deep, as the designer has completely re-modelled shapes to bring them into the digital world.

So what you saw was often less than what you would get. The most convincing of the women’s clothes were simply but luxuriously cut dresses in leather or silk. Some of the most striking accessories served as a counterbalance: a pair of purple suede sandals was paired with a turquoise handbag.

What was missing was that urgent sense of desire that makes online or brick-and-mortar shoppers throb.

Maybe the arrival of a new CEO Micaela le Divelec, formerly with Gucci, will pep things up at Ferragamo, where all the elements seem to be ready for a change of stance.

Tod’s: Energy in leather

Diego Della Valle is a wise man. The President and CEO of Tod’s knows that the company’s strength is in shoes and accessories. A parallel fashion line? Been there, done that – with a series of designers.

Now Tod’s is back to basics, with a ‘team’ designing the clothes, although only two blushing figures came out on the staircase at the end of the show.

But the executive could not have made a clearer statement about his vision of Tod’s. The clothes were primarily made of leather like a precursor of the accessories.

“We don’t need a lot of clothes – we are an accessories business,” he said.

So I watched a nappa leather trench coat walk the runway, while focusing on leather sandals and moccasins, while saddle bags were described in the show notes as “oozing seduction”.

The design energy was in the colours, such as deep blue, orange and lighter shades of peach. Menswear joined the parade with a wide choice of carry-on bags for impeccable travelling.

This gentle play-off between masculine and feminine may soon be pepped up. In a series of collaborations with designers, Della Valle is expected to call on Italian designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua to design a capsule in three different colours with an equal number of shoes.