#SuzyMFW: Should Shoe Companies Put Feet First?
Starting with shoes and bags and then rising high in ready-to-wear is a well-trodden path in Italian fashion history. Gucci and Prada set a standard in the 1990s that still resonates today. But how do accessories fare when the company tries to put clothes, as well as feet, first?
Diego Della Valle, President and CEO of Tod’s, has been there, done that. The company is no longer hiring a fashion designer to rev up its clothing collection. Instead, the wardrobe for the show, called “The Italian Dream”, absorbed the spirit of the accessories, using sporty tops and leather or python to compliment the bags and shoes.
The only fashion item making its own statement took that from another accessory: the silk scarf. A top with a picture of sea and shore was inspired by The Talented Mr Ripley, which was playing on screen at the show’s entrance to put the audience in the mood for a sun-kissed vacation.
The Italian holiday theme, which these days would probably include owning a boat as well as visiting the beach, started with easy loafers and snakeskin bags, all with a sandy beige as their background shade.
The feeling of walking along a coastline was intensified by a focus entirely on flats and even one funky version draped with fringe. That Moroccan addition was more convincing as accessories than for the clothes.
The colours moved slowly from sand to the yellow of the rising sun, sky blue and the white of the ocean waves. Only at the end of the show did Tod’s bring in black and white for an urban alternative But the main story was in the accessories, a “smart casual” look that never goes out of style – and Italians do it best.
On the grass, but trapped under a transparent runway, were daisies. Above them clacked shoes with raised soles and thick heels that drew the attention downwards from the clothes to footwear.
So it should be! For Salvatore Ferragamo’s influence on stars of the past, from Greta Garbo to Marilyn Monroe, made him the first celebrity shoemaker in the world. Paul Andrew, a British shoe designer based in America, has been tasked with remodelling Ferragamo footwear to make it more sporty and ergonomic, using digital techniques that have come into the equation nearly a century after the original designer’s revolutionary work.
Yet there seemed to be a clash of cultures or of style in this Ferragamo collection, held in the piazza outside the noble Palazzo Mezzanotte, where the company usually holds its shows. The reason for grassing over the classic Milanese square and projecting images on the façade of the building was love – “Ama” – the name of Ferragamo’s new fragrance. Yet there was not much to love in the clothes in lively colours by Fulvio Rigoni, Design Director of Womenswear.
He said all the right things about celebrating “women’s individuality and style”. But the transparent canopy of the tent seemed all too much like a glass ceiling. Feminists might stride out in a python-patterned dress, tightly belted. But a lilac top and purple shorts seemed an unlikely companion to the sturdy heeled sandal and blush-pink bag.
Colours were nicely handled, with scarlet and turquoise facing off pink or faded purple.
But where was the coherence or the message about where Ferragamo hopes to position itself – not only in the fashion arena but with the high-tech shoes? The colours just seemed like brush strokes of sensationalism, especially for evening outfits flowing in vivid shades of chiffon.
With such a wide international following, especially in Japan and the Far East, Ferragamo needs to find a way to balance the modernised shoes against the unexceptional clothes.