When new creative directors produce their first collection for a fashion house, critics tend to look at its overall mood generated by the combination of fashion and accessories. But, at times, a careful analysis of a key piece in a collection can actually show where that house or brand will be heading in future. Take Salvatore Ferragamo's S/S 17 collection, designed by Fulvio Rigoni, the new creative director since the departure of Massimiliano Giornetti.
The clothes were sporty and dynamic yet elegant; dresses came in floral prints, featured gathered necklines, and ample, puffed out or rounded sleeves. There were also plenty of separates, such as tops made in a sponge-like tech fabric and high-waisted narrow skirts matched with anoraks.
Everything seemed wearable, modernist, though a bit clinical and cold, so the collection mainly revolved around a sort of tailored athleisure characterised by a few Raf Simons-isms (Rigoni worked with him at Jil Sander and Dior).
Yet the clothes weren't the real protagonists of the show as the over-the-knee length of the pieces redirected the eye to the footwear. Some models wore clunky platform shoes that featured a sort of crocheted sock-like sneaker with a bubbly platform sole, others a strappy sandal that looked made with a grosgrain ribbon.
The shoes had a precise inspiration: in the late '30s Ferragamo designed a series of sandals with an iconic cork platform sole covered in kid leather.
Throughout the decades critics have written about the inspirations behind these Ferragamo's models and have also drawn comparisons with interior design pieces and objects produced in later years.
Ferragamo was definitely interested in architecture and loved elegant Art Deco buildings. His multi-coloured 1938 platform wedge designed with Judy Garland in mind is indeed often compared to the neon lights shining outside art deco theatres and cinemas in the USA, a very apt reference to the actress.
His vertical carved cork covered in gold kid leather and his black sandal with a platform made up of convex layers of cork covered with silver and gold calf, are instead often compared to objects such as Kay Fisker's 1947 sculptural sterling cocktail shakers designed for A. Michelsen.
While Ferragamo's futuristic sandals with high heel and insole covered with kid leather found a match in later years in Ettore Sottsass' Elledue bed from his "Grey Room".
Rigoni seems to have moved from all these iconic wedges and references to create new versions of historical shoes. In some cases the colour combination (brown/beige/white and black/white) and the consistency of the sole called to mind Joe Colombo's Elda chair.
Produced in 1963, this armchair was characterised by an enveloping shape covered in seven ergonomic padded cushions upholstered in leather and by a weight-bearing shell that swiveled at the base.
The chair immediately conjures up visions of a minimalist Space Age and thanks to its futuristic image it ended up appearing in many films, including one episode of Star Trek (1966-1969), the British series Space: 1999 (1975-1978), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and, more recently, The Hunger Games (2012).
The colours of some of the shoes and the volumes and shapes could also be linked with Jonathan De Pas, Donato D'Urbino, Paolo Lomazzi and Carla Scolari's see-through PVC "Blow" armchair for Zanotta and with Colombo's "Boby" storage trolley.
Interior design has been a constant reference in Giornetti's collections, but Ferragamo was also influenced by art and in particular by Sonia Delaunay and some of the grosgrain sandals echoed the patterns in Delaunay's 1924 sketchbook or the colours from the advertising sketches that Futurist painter Lucio Venna did for Ferragamo in 1930 and that showed the company trademarks.
Trademarks, inventions and models can actually offer a great source to discover further inspirations for different fashion collections as patents offer great opportunities for scientific and technological researches and help carrying out in-depth investigations on the evolution of custom and fashions.
In this case Ferragamo's sole finds another correspondence in the design of the Campari conical bottle with five circular rings on the upper outer wall followed by six crcular rings on the lower exterior (patented in July 1955).
Maybe the sandals in this collection weren't so flamboyant as Ferragamo's ones, and they certainly were more modern and less elaborate platform shoes compared to Gucci's S/S 17 calcagnini, but they looked desirable in the way they elongated and balanced the silhouettes in a young and dynamic way.
Paul Andrew is incoming as design director of shoes at Ferragamo with his first collection due for pre-Fall, but these designs already show the path that the brand will be taking from now on, returning to the origins and to the fundamentals of Ferragamo.