Fri, Jun 15, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Ferragamo pushing the case for fashion as high art

The Guardian, LONDON

Is fashion art? The debate has raged for decades. Now the Italian house of Salvatore Ferragamo has staged perhaps the most audacious — and expensive — attempt to authenticate clothes as high culture by staging the first ever catwalk show in the Louvre.

As sponsors of the exhibition “La Sainte Anne: Leonardo da Vinci’s Ultimate Masterpiece,” the brand was granted permission to showcase its own masterpieces in the high temple of fine art.

The latest Ferragamo collection, including finely sculpted snakeskin boots and intricately crafted crochet dresses, was unveiled next to the Louvre’s glass pyramid.

Ferragamo was founded in Florence, home of Leonardo, and has sponsored several restoration projects in the city. The Louvre exhibition provides a platform to tell the story of Ferragamo’s Tuscan heritage to an audience outside Italy.

Designer Massimiliano Giornetti described the exhibition as “a chance to express a lot about the links between Ferragamo, Italy and the artistic and artisan traditions of Tuscany.”

At 140m, the catwalk is one of the longest built for a Paris show.

“We want to prove our shoes can walk a long way,” Ferragamo chief executive Michele Norsa said.

The event may be an indicator of where the future of fashion branding may lie, because the company has form as one of the most forward-thinking in the industry. Ferragamo was one of the first European brands to recognize the potential of the Asian market, and their early investment paid off handsomely. The company ended the last financial year reporting a 69.8 percent increase in net profit, with Asia-Pacific confirmed as its main market.

Last year, 10 new stores opened in China, bringing the total to 60. Boutiques opened in Peru and Colombia, and e-commerce was expanded into new territories, including Mexico and Ukraine.

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