In His Shoes

For the first time in its 90-year-old legacy, Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo takes on CFDA Award win­ner Paul An­drew as its lat­est women’s footwear de­sign di­rec­tor. Amy Yas­mine heads up to Seoul for a tête-à-tête with the de­signer, and un­cov­ers the story be­hind his j

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Contents -

It’s one thing to join a house steeped in his­tory, but quite an­other to lead it into the 21st cen­tury. For most, this might sound like a daunt­ing task, and yet, Paul An­drew, the re­cently ap­pointed women’s footwear de­sign di­rec­tor at Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo, is tak­ing it in full stride. You can tell in­stantly that he’s at ease with his new role at the sto­ried house; all smiles and charm­ingly spir­ited at our first in­tro­duc­tion, as he took me through his de­but col­lec­tion for the Pre-Fall ’17 sea­son. “Part Zen mas­ter, part per­fec­tion­ist,” I thought to my­self, as he handed me pairs upon pairs of shoes to test drive and ex­plained quite lan­guidly at each tran­si­tion. This is per­haps all down to his in­nate un­der­stand­ing of the craft it­self, and the no­tion that some­times fit-and-com­fort pre­cedes ev­ery­thing else. The line be­tween Fer­rag­amo and An­drew has blurred, and one that will be taken far be­yond in times to come. First things first: How did this jour­ney with Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo be­gin? The Fer­rag­amo fam­ily con­tacted me in the late sum­mer [of 2016], and it just felt like the right time for both of us. The right set of val­ues were in place, we con­nected on ev­ery­thing, and it felt so per­fect. Of course, know­ing the ar­chive and hav­ing an idea of what I could do with the brand and move it for­ward was very ex­cit­ing. It was just an op­por­tu­nity I couldn’t re­sist. How does it feel to be a part of this 90-year-old legacy? It’s an enor­mous hon­our but a lot of pres­sure at the same time. Also, to be the first shoe de­signer since Sal­va­tore passed away in 1960 is a great priv­i­lege, and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to mov­ing the brand for­ward. That’s what re­ally at­tracted them to me ... the idea that it is still a very sig­nif­i­cant busi­ness, even now, but I think they lost their way a lit­tle bit over the last cou­ple of decades. It’s not about a rev­o­lu­tion; it’s about an evo­lu­tion, and rein­tro­duc­ing this beau­ti­ful Ital­ian her­itage brand to a new gen­er­a­tion of con­sumers. As an English­man, how do you bal­ance your cul­ture with that of this his­toric Ital­ian house? I was born in England and lived in New York for 17 years, but I travel every month to Italy for my own brand and for other brands. I feel a great con­nec­tion to Italy, and it doesn’t feel like such a huge tran­si­tion. The only dif­fer­ence is working in such an enor­mous com­pany. What is also won­der­ful is that Fer­rag­amo is un­like all of these con­glom­er­ates like LVMH and Ker­ing. Fer­rag­amo is only Fer­rag­amo, and that’s a unique and won­der­ful thing. How have you put your stamp on this col­lec­tion, while con­sid­er­ing Fer­rag­amo’s sig­na­ture house codes? All the in­gre­di­ents are there. Fer­rag­amo has an in­cred­i­ble ar­chive with 15,000 pairs of shoes, and it’s just about re­work­ing the in­gre­di­ents in a new way to make them rel­e­vant for 2017 and be­yond. It’s high-tech meets high craft, which you’ll see in all the dif­fer­ent el­e­ments of the shoes. Let’s talk a lit­tle bit more about high-tech meets high craft. How does high-tech come into play? One doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily think of Fer­rag­amo as high-tech to­day, but if you con­sider what Sal­va­tore was do­ing in the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, it was all about in­no­va­tion. He was the first one to in­still a metal shank into shoes, which al­lowed stilet­tos to stand on their own with­out col­laps­ing. He was also the first de­signer to cre­ate the “F” wedge con­struc­tion. So, it’s about re-en­gag­ing with that idea and con­cept, which is part of every sin­gle shoe in Mi­lan. For Pre-Fall ’17, you drew in­spi­ra­tion from many of Mr. Fer­rag­amo’s iconic de­signs. Which one res­onated the most with you? Oh, there’s so many— that’s the in­cred­i­ble thing. The “F” wedges are def­i­nitely one of my favourites, and also the Gan­cio, which buck­les are an­other great el­e­ment I loved working with. One thing that I’ve dis­cov­ered while go­ing through the archives was that Sal­va­tore trav­elled to Ja­pan—one of the first de­sign­ers to ever do so—and saw the geishas in Ky­oto wear­ing the socks with the san­dals over the top. When he came back to Italy, he de­signed this in­cred­i­ble Kimo shoe, which is a sock in a san­dal, and you could re­move the socks and have three dif­fer­ent colours. So, I played with the idea of socks this sea­son, like a sock bootie made in the Flyknit fac­tory, or heels made with the same tech­nique that ren­dered matte black cars. Do you think the in­tro­duc­tion of tech to footwear is the di­rec­tion we’re head­ing to right now? I’m less con­cerned about trends. I think more about the legacy of this house and what would make it rel­e­vant for to­day. The idea of in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy is im­por­tant in fash­ion but whether it’s a trend in every house, I’m not so sure. For us in Fer­rag­amo, it just makes a lot of sense.

Paul An­drew

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