At different venues in the environs of the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in the heart of Florence, an exhibition named ‘Across Art and Fashion’ (Tra Arte e Moda), that encompasses clothing, accessories, fabrics, works of art, books, periodicals and photographs, considers the often-discussed relationship between fashion and art.
'In the last 10 years, artists have been reflecting on the commercial aspect more and more', according to Stefania Ricci, director of the Ferragamo Museo. 'And fashion designers are using art more too', she continues, 'in research and inspiration'.
With the weighty backdrop of Florence’s history as a meeting place of artists and incubator of art, it’s only fitting that Salvatore Ferragamo chose Uffizi Gallery, the National Library, Museo Marino Marini and the museum of Textile in Prato as its collaborators. 'In the Renaissance, there was no difference between art and craftsmanship', Ricci remarks, and that’s where Mr Ferragamo, the Florentine shoe designer comes into the picture.
There is no question that he was deeply fascinated by avant-garde art, as much as he was fascinated by the glamourous Hollywood world he equipped with elegant footwear. He collaborated with both Dior and Schiapparelli, and bedecked both Audrey Hepburn and Peggy Guggenheim.
Ferragamo took a great deal of inspiration from the colourful works of Sonia Delaunay and from Kenneth Noland’s circular abstraction, and along these pieces contemporary designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake share the plinths with Yinka Shonibare, a Nigerian artist who uses African waxprint textiles in 19th century silhouettes, and Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang and Gareth Pugh. 'Essentially, they all address the problem of the body', concludes Ricci. As did Salvatore Ferragamo, who produced his best work in the 1920s and 1930s, and who will go down in fashion history as the shoe designer who artfully altered our silhouette from the ground up.