It is such an amazing honour to be the first named shoe designer of the house since Salvatore Ferragamo passed away in the 1960s,” said Paul Andrew of his new appointment at the iconic Italian footwear brand. The designer, British-born but with a long track record in America, was showing his own designs for next season.
True to style, he chose a key country as inspiration for his collection; this time it was Scandinavia. That meant chunky wooden heels and shoes in colours from mud-brown leather to russet suede. These references to nature were also reflected in a display of wood mid-century modern furniture.
For all the solid success of his American brand, Paul Andrew recognises that the collaboration with Ferragamo is both a challenge and an opportunity.
As we sat on beige sofas in his showroom, with windows overlooking the sun-soaked Hudson River, I thought of the enormous Ferragamo archive in Florence, and asked Paul Andrew how he would find a starting point.
“There are so many great shoes to work with in the archive - but I think it’s about taking baby steps and do one or two shoes at a time,” he said.
“The Rainbow wedge is such an iconic piece and maybe I will re-work that in some way for the first season,” the new Design Director revealed, referring to the famous Ferragamo shoe in strips of different coloured suede.
Ferruccio Ferragamo, President of the family brand, says that it has always had “a proud history of nurturing talent”. “We believe that Paul’s credo matches the spirit at the heart of our house,” he said. It was Salvatore’s pioneering spirit that resulted in iconic inventions that were landmarks in women’s fashion - including the cork wedge and the stiletto heel.
Paul Andrew’s talent was recognised by the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2014, when he was the first shoe designer to win such a prestigious award. He has also worked behind the scenes for many famous names, from Carolina Herrera to Diane von Furstenberg. But now his creative juices will be used only for Ferragamo and his namesake brand.
For Paul Andrew, Salvatore was a genius of invention. “I am a designer that really understands form and function,” he says, “and when I think about when Salvatore Ferragamo began, he studied anatomy and went to Los Angeles to study the human form and how shoes should perform in real life.”
“I have also done a lot of studies to ensure my shoes are the best-fitting,” he continued. “But there are also aesthetic similarities. I have not solely concentrated on towering high-heels. I have a lot of great flats and mid-heels. I have really built a business on that sort of product.”