“I was rewatching The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock maybe for the third or fourth time, and I realised: there’s absolutely no music in the whole movie—only bird song; it’s really trippy,” says Salvatore Ferragamo creative director Paul Andrew. Having exhausted Netflix’s offerings during last year’s lockdown, Andrew revisited his favourite Hitchcock classics, namely Marnie, Vertigo and The Birds, and the collective mood, colours and sound all bled heavily into his resulting spring-summer 2021 collection. Think models with sharp flicks of red eyeliner shod in a Tippi Hedren mint-green suit. “For the entrance music of my September fashion show, I had Frédéric Sanchez, who does my music, create a soundtrack of birds chirping in that eerie Hitchcock way.” Andrew laughs shyly while clad in a burnt-orange jumper, in a video call from the Ferragamo headquarters in Italy.
Andrew’s deep dive into silver screen classics got him thinking about Salvatore Ferragamo’s longstanding love affair with Hollywood. The Italian designer, after all, was the first “shoemaker to the stars”, having set up shop on Hollywood Boulevard just as the film industry blossomed and dressed the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Marilyn Monroe. “We have a more valid connection to Hollywood than any other fashion brand, I feel, and I wanted to bring that into the fold of our new narrative at Ferragamo,” says Andrew. At press time, there were rumours that his time at Ferragamo may soon come to an end, though if this proves to be the finale, it will certainly be a cinematic ending.
The first page of this chapter began with a collaboration with celebrated filmmaker Luca Guadagnino of Call Me By Your Name fame. Last year, Guadagnino directed the documentary Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams, which showed at the Cannes Film Festival to raving reviews. “It was actually the first time I got to hear Salvatore’s voice,” says Andrew, when asked if the documentary revealed any astonishing facts he did not already know. Andrew, a reverent custodian of the Italian brand, famously mines Ferragamo’s archive, which is home to more than 15,000 shoe styles thanks to its prolific founder. “My understanding is that he made cassettes only because he was writing his memoir and needed someone to type up the book for him. As creative director for the brand, there was such power in hearing him talk about his story and influences in his own voice—that was very moving for me.”
In a casual phone call during confinement, Andrew discovered that Guadagnino used Hitchcock as his main inspiration for his previous film I Am Love and the two immediately began dreaming up a short film that debuted before the spring show. The film, set across iconic Milanese locations, pays tribute to a scene in Marnie, where Tippi Hedren (who plays the kleptomaniac title character), having interviewed successfully for a job, waits for her colleagues to leave before burgling the office. She famously slips her shoes into her pocket to keep the heels from clacking on the tiled floor as she crawls out on all fours. They, of course, spill out dramatically anyway and the camera moves to an aerial shot of the brown stilettos. In Ferragamo’s version, however, the shot is of the iconic F-heeled shoe, originally designed by Salvatore in 1947, which Andrew reimagined for this season in two heights, the highest being only eight centimetres (“I barely design high heels any more; it doesn’t feel right for the moment. Even when we’re back on the streets partying like it’s 2099, everyone’s still going to appreciate a certain level of comfort”).