So-Le Studio’s first brooch is inspired by a 1930s Ferragamo sandal

So-Le Studio's Maria Sole Ferragamo reimagines her grandfather's 'Enea' sandal as a leather brooch

Model wears brown So-Le Studio brooch
(Image credit: Courtesy So-Le Studio)

Upcycling is at the heart of So-Le Studio founder Maria Sole Ferragamo’s design philosophy, using by-products, namely leather and brass offcuts, from Italian luxury houses and manufacturers, to create singular, architectural jewels (including a brass necklace designed for Wallpaper*). This year, having rediscovered her legendary shoe-designer grandfather’s ‘Enea’ sandal in a recent exhibition catalogue, she took to repurposing creative inspiration, too.

red and gold Ferragamo sandal

1930s 'Enea' sandal by Salvatore Ferragamo

(Image credit: Courtesy So-Le Studio, Ferragamo)

‘I’d seen the shoe before, but this time I was struck by the elegant harmony of all the elements together,’ she says of the ‘Enea’, a 1930’s red-and-gold goatskin shoe, shimmering with all the understated glamour of Salvatore Ferragamo’s Hollywood-era style. ‘The geometric structure of the overlapping leather strips, the contrasting textures and colours and the original weaving techniques all translated into a new, 3D object in my mind.’

Leather jewels

So-Le Studio 'Beetle' brooch

(Image credit: Courtesy, So-Le Studio)

While coil earrings, geometric cuffs and necklaces have been So-Le Studio’s mainstay, the jeweller recalls how that object became the bronze-flecked brown leather ‘Beetle’, her debut brooch design. It came to her during the ‘wobbly first steps’ of the making process. ‘When I start to create, I don't necessarily have an area of the body in mind,’ she reveals. ‘Rather, I imagine all of my pieces as standalone objects or sculptures, which have an identity beyond being worn.

‘Here, I started playing with the leather strips, creating patterns, focusing my mind on the geometrical essence of the “Enea” pattern. The curved form that emerged instantly felt very strong on its own, and I imagined it as a brooch.’

Lightness is a key motif of So-Le Studio designs, and because brooches are often voluminous and heavy, Sole-Ferragamo designed a magnet clip, so that the 'Beetle' might be attached to a garment without piercing it.

Leather jewels

So-Le Studio leather hair barette

(Image credit: So-Le Studio)

The capsule collection also includes the 'Harmonia' leather hair jewellery piece, where supple, geometric cuts allow the leather pattern to stretch stylishly around the hair.

‘Every time I start a new design, I feel a slight sense of anxiety and anticipation: How will I make it this time? How will I improve and evolve again?’ She admits that looking through her grandfather’s designs ‘with their infinite possibilities’ offers reassurance. As does his design mantra: ‘There is no limit to beauty, no saturation point in the design, no end to the material.’

Caragh McKay is a contributing editor at Wallpaper* and was watches & jewellery director at the magazine between 2011 and 2019. Caragh’s current remit is cross-cultural and her recent stories include the curious tale of how Muhammad Ali met his poetic match in Robert Burns and how a Martin Scorsese Martin film revived a forgotten Osage art.