When the shoe fits

Shoe de­signer Paul An­drew has found a nat­u­ral home at Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo, where he is rein­vig­o­rat­ing the clas­sics

ELLE (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

Paul An­drew’s new home at Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo

Paul An­drew is an English­man in New York. At just 38, he has 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence as a shoe­maker, and a name for de­signs that hark back to an era of el­e­gance while still feel­ing thor­oughly mod­ern. In other words, he is a nat­u­ral fit for the role of Women’s Footwear De­sign Di­rec­tor at Fer­rag­amo. There are also pleas­ing par­al­lels be­tween his own de­sign pref­er­ences and those of the com­pany’s pi­o­neer­ing founder: just look at the sus­pended heels, fu­tur­ist tweeds and sculp­tural forms that char­ac­terise both men’s shoes. An­drew can also re­late to Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo’s taste for things new and his fix­a­tion for com­bin­ing to­tal com­fort with sheer beauty. And just like Fer­rag­amo, who spent time in Amer­ica de­sign­ing shoes for the big Hol­ly­wood stars of the 1920s, An­drew also found suc­cess in the States.

He got his start, how­ever, in the UK work­ing for Alexan­der McQueen. “We were just con­tin­u­ously push­ing the limit,” he says, “but there wasn’t too much money in it, at least for me. My dad told me I had to make a liv­ing some­how.” So Paul flew to Amer­ica. He went to “fit­ting school” un­der Nar­ciso Ro­driguez, and later worked for Calvin Klein and Donna Karan. In 2013 he founded the Paul An­drew brand, which won him the Footwear News Launch of the Year and the Who is on Next? Ac­ces­sories De­sign of the Year awards.

An­drew’s first col­lec­tion for Fer­rag­amo was Pre-fall 2017, which was cel­e­brated with a spec­tac­u­lar cock­tail party at the brand’s Suria KLCC store. As his sec­ond col­lec­tion hits stores this month, ELLE finds out how he in­tends to bring Sal­va­tore’s mes­sage of moder­nity to mil­len­ni­als.

How did you feel about your ap­point­ment at sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo?

It was an hon­our. For all of us, Fer­rag­amo has al­ways been an ac­tual fo­cus of study. Be­com­ing Fer­rag­amo’s first Women’s Footwear De­sign Di­rec­tor was stag­ger­ing. But then again, it was a nat­u­ral process. Our mind­sets are sim­i­lar: Sal­va­tore went to the States, like me, to study anatomy. The fit was at the base of his stylis­tic re­search. I agree.

What was your first step in your new role?

I tested all the shoes in our ar­chives. I had to un­der­stand things be­fore I could make any changes. The con­struc­tion of the new mod­els is in keep­ing with our own times. The rest of the stuff dates back 20 years, and noth­ing new had been done since then. But to­day peo­ple are used to wear­ing sneak­ers, we do lots of yoga and run­ning and Pi­lates. Our feet have changed along the way: they’re wider, and the

plan­tar fat pad has been re­duced. I worked with all the new tech­nolo­gies avail­able to make the new Fer­rag­amo footwear. Feel how soft this pad­dle is [he hands over an F-wedge]: com­fort goes hand in hand with aes­thet­ics. That’s the cor­ner­stone of Sal­va­tore’s les­son. That’s be­come a rare com­bi­na­tion these days, when there seems to be more fo­cus on dec­o­ra­tion.

Why is that?

Ex­press­ing your imag­i­na­tion helps to give us re­as­sur­ance dur­ing dark mo­ments in his­tory. When ev­ery­thing out there seems fright­en­ing – the threat of ter­ror­ism, the rap­ing of our planet – beauty makes us feel better. Sal­va­tore’s most rev­o­lu­tion­ary ideas were born in times of cri­sis: there was poverty, qual­ity raw ma­te­ri­als were hard to find.

What struck you most about the ar­chives?

See­ing how feet have evolved. Look how nar­row and tiny In­grid Bergman’s feet were, for ex­am­ple. And the arches used to be flat­ter. To­day they’re def­i­nitely much higher. Nowa­days the most com­mon sizes are 38, 39, es­pe­cially in North­ern Europe, the USA and Canada. We even make a size 43 for women. That’s my size!

What sur­prised you most?

That there were over 14,000 pairs of shoes. It’s a footwear li­brary, which we’re now dig­i­tal­is­ing. It took a while to go through the en­tire col­lec­tion, and I dis­cov­ered some­thing new on ev­ery visit. Touch­ing a san­dal, an an­kle boot, hav­ing them in your hands is an ex­pe­ri­ence that re­veals Sal­va­tore’s secrets: the way the heels were at­tached, the rea­son a strap or a clasp was made in a cer­tain way.

His use of colour seems to be func­tional.

For Fer­rag­amo, colour was al­ways fun­da­men­tal. It dic­tated the form. I picked that up, es­pe­cially in mould­ing the curvy sil­hou­ette of the F-wedge. That had faded out, but I thought they would make our tra­di­tional cus­tomers happy, and their daugh­ters and grand­daugh­ters, too – the 30-year-olds, the mil­len­ni­als. We want to in­tro­duce the com­pany to new gen­er­a­tions. I like the sound of that, it re­minds me of fam­ily. And Fer­rag­amo is a fam­ily com­pany. From Sal­va­tore to his chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, who carry on the tra­di­tion.

What in­spires you?

The idea of ar­chi­tec­ture that’s sexy and steeped in char­ac­ter. Like the col­umns of an­cient Rome. They’re sen­sual and strong. I soft­ened them in the flower heels. You put them on and you feel in­vin­ci­ble, beau­ti­ful, at ease. They come from a model de­signed in the 1930s. I also reis­sued his skin­ners, with the fly-knit fab­ric typ­i­cal of sneak­ers. Awe­some san­dals, with sneaker com­fort.

How did you hit it off with the crafts­men?

In­cred­i­bly well. One of the rea­sons Sal­va­tore was able to be such an in­no­va­tor was that he had a highly skilled staff in Tus­cany. Mak­ing in­di­vid­ual, curved and seam­less pieces like the F-wedge wasn’t easy. The leather risked crack­ing or be­ing marred. It doesn’t take much to com­pro­mise the magic of a heel that seems to flut­ter in midair.

Paul An­drew is the first Women’s Footwear De­sign Di­rec­tor at Fer­rag­amo Shoes

Boots, RM3,750, Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo

Heels, RM4,690, Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo

Wedges, RM5,090, Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo

The fa­mous F-wedge that Paul An­drew has brought back from the ar­chives

Heels, RM3,190, Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo

Heels, RM3,190, Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo

Mules, RM3,750, Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo

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