Cool Exhibition of the Month: ‘Italy in Hollywood’ at Ferragamo Museum in Florence

Tue, 05/22/2018 - 03:00
Ferragamo museum Florence

Opening May 24, ‘L’Italia a Hollywood’ (Italy in Hollywood) traces the years shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo spent in southern California, his close relationship with the movie industry and the influence of Italian culture and style in the U.S., especially California.

From 1915 to 1927, Ferragamo lived in Santa Barbara and worked closely with Hollywood stars, before returning to Italy and founding Salvatore Ferragamo Spa, today a highly successful luxury goods company, with headquarters in Florence and stores worldwide.

The exhibition examines how Ferragamo worked with such prominent directors of the time as David Wark Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille, and recounts the opening of his Hollywood Boot Shop on Hollywood Boulevard in 1923, a favorite with stars of the caliber of Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish and Rodolfo Valentino.

When Ferragamo arrived in California, the film studios were few, small and had little money. By the time he left, everything had changed. In his autobiography, Ferragamo himself wrote: “It seems to me that there is correspondence between my business and the movie industry…just as the majors went beyond the initial phase and began to grow, so did my store.” Ferragamo’s autobiography did inspire much of the exhibition, which recreates the atmosphere of the California studios and life in Hollywood in the 1920s, and also examines the migration phenomenon.

A large section is dedicated to California film productions where the references to ‘Italianità’ (‘Italian-ness’) abound. The exhibition itinerary focuses on the world of art, craftsmanship and entertainment, unraveling like the plot of a film. The sensation to be on a movie set is enhanced by the scenic design, which is inspired by the American studios of the 1920s.

The exhibition also examines the roles of Italians in Hollywood today, through the contribution of two young Italian artists living in Los Angeles. The itinerary concludes in the room dedicated to Salvatore Ferragamo, where the shoe shop Ferragamo opened in Hollywood has been recreated.

The Ferragamo Museum is housed in the historic Palazzo Spini Feroni, and contains 10,000 models of shoes created and owned by Ferragamo from the 1920s until his death in 1960, as well as films, press cuttings, advertising materials, clothes and accessories from the 1950s to the present day.

“L’Italia a Hollywood” is open May 24, 2018-March 10, 2019. For more information, visit the Ferragamo Museum website.

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