Cover Photo: Lee Whitaker, courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo

As only the second young Black designer to helm a major luxury brand, Maximilian Davis has the potential to connect Ferragamo to a global audience

A new era at Salvatore Ferragamo is on the horizon, now that the Italian luxury fashion brand has named Maximilian Davis as its creative director.

Davis, who begins his new role on March 16, will succeed Paul Andrew following the latter’s two-year stint at the helm of the luxury brand. He was appointed by Ferragamo CEO Marco Gobbetti, who formerly led Burberry for five years.

What could Davis, a 26-year-old designer who only launched his eponymous brand in 2020, bring to a luxury fashion house that’s almost a century old? In short, a fresh but fully realised design perspective that will revitalise Ferragamo and connect it to a new (and younger) audience.

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For the unacquainted, Davis is a Trinidadian-British designer who studied at the London College of Fashion. Upon his graduation in 2017, he trained under some of brightest emerging talents from London’s fashion scene, including Mowalola, Supriya Lele and LVMH Prize Winner Grace Wales Bonner.

He also connected with other in-demand and influential creatives in the fashion industry, namely Dazed editor-in-chief Ib Kamara (who notably styled Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton collections) and photographer Rafael Pavarotti, who has shot several Vogue covers as well as campaigns for Dior, Dries Van Noten and H&M.

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Kamara and Pavarotti came together to create the first lookbook for Davis’ eponymous fashion brand in 2020. The visuals, which featured a cast of Black models against vividly-hued backdrops, went viral on Instagram for its celebration of Black beauty—and formally introduced the talented Davis to the fashion world.

“There’s a community behind it,” said the designer. “We all want to support each other in some way or another to come together and create something great.”

Davis will undoubtedly tap on his collaborators again during his tenure at Ferragamo, allowing him to create a strong and distinctive visual language for the Italian luxury brand. But Davis’ creative community is only part of the reason why Ferragamo chief Gobbetti hired him to helm the brand.

Davis is also undeniably talented, something that led to his two-year-old fashion brand being picked up by stockists like Ssense, Net-a-Porter and the authority of cool that is Dover Street Market. Among the many industry figures who congratulated Davis for his appointment are Dior Men designer Kim Jones and Lulu Kennedy, founder of design incubator Fashion East. And celebrities like Rihanna, Dua Lipa and Kim Kardashian have all been seen wearing the young designer’s creations.

Davis also distinguishes himself with a unique point of view that draws from his cultural heritage. He succinctly described it as “West Indian elegance and sex appeal”.

“The clarity of [Davis’] vision together with the level of execution and his powerful aesthetic make him one of the most brilliant talents of his generation,” said Gobbetti in a statement. “He will write a new, exciting chapter for this house built on a heritage of creativity, craftsmanship, sophistication, and outstanding human values”.

The intersection of Davis’ design aesthetic with Ferragamo’s history of craft will be exciting to see. But it’s also noteworthy that Davis is only the second young Black designer to ever be given the reins of a major luxury brand. (Olivier Rousteing joined Balmain in 2009 at the age of 25.) At a time where Black designers are still underrepresented in the world of luxury, Davis will undoubtedly inject a fresh perspective into fashion—and that alone is worth celebrating.

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