Which women are better dressed, Paul Andrew?
With a clear concept and a lot of respect, creative director Paul Andrew has awakened the Italian luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo from its slumber.
Text: Konstantin Spachis
If you're only a millimeter off, it's a complete disaster. It's like building a house," says Paul Andrew, 40, about the construction of shoes. The creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo, who actually wanted to become an architect, is in a good mood this morning. The evening before, the designer presented the spring-summer collection for men and the resort wear for women at the Pitti Uomo men's fashion fair in Florence. In a dreamlike setting, under the evening sky in the Piazza della Signoria, where a fashion show took place for the first time. The next morning we chat with the native Englishman and American by choice at Espresso and San Pellegrino about his mother's shoe fetish, the sense of responsibility of luxury labels and the intellectual fashion style of the typical Ferragamo woman.
Madame: You were recently appointed Creative Director of Salvatore Ferragamo and are now responsible for the creative direction of all lines. Do you remember your first pair of Ferragamo shoes?
Paul Andrew: Those were red fringed boots from the early 80s, which my mother often wore. I inherited my love for shoes from her - although her affinity is more like a boundless fetish. I remember her cupboards bursting with shoes. One opened the doors, and boxes over boxes of noblest shoes fell towards one.
Madame: Then it would have to be like in the land of milk and honey for you if you are researching in the Ferragamo archive ...
Paul Andrew: Oh yes, the archive contains over 15,000 designs, each time I lose myself somewhere. What always fascinates me is that Salvatore was ahead of his time. The pumps from the twenties, thirties and forties were progressive in their construction, especially the styles made of natural materials like bast or cork. A theme that could hardly be more topical today in times of scarcity of resources. I truly consider it a privilege to reinterpret these ideas.
Madame: In your new position, you will also be responsible for the company's ready-to-wear. As a trained shoe designer, how do you approach the designs?
Paul Andrew: "From toe to head" is our motto. This means that the shoe defines the silhouette of the look. For me as a shoe designer, but also for a label like Ferragamo, this is simply the most credible. And: in our prêt-à-porter we don't put girlies in mini skirts, we don't produce products with a sell-by date. Rather, we serve an adult, intellectual image of women. We believe that our customer is a woman who values quality. If our fashion and accessories are cared for properly, they can last for generations. This concept has always accompanied me.
Madame: Is that why you see faces like Kirsty Hume and Georgina Grenville on the catwalk and in campaigns? Supermodels of the 90s and smart business women who are both mothers and wives?
Paul Andrew: Absolutely! We would like to exemplify sustainability and diversity in our castings as well. As a globally positioned brand with a responsibility towards the environment and society, it would simply be out of date to let only a parade of young, white women march. In addition, we can demonstrate how our fashion can look on different age groups and body types. Because designers should not limit themselves here either.
Madame: The house Ferragamo presents itself as a family business with the seal of quality "Made in Italy". What is the teamwork like?
Paul Andrew: The Ferragamo family was and is a great support to me. They believe in my vision. And they allow me a creative freedom in this position, which in the past only the company founder held. That honors me very much! At the same time, I bear the great responsibility of respectfully leading this legacy into the future. That is my challenge. There will therefore be no revolution here, rather one can speak of evolution.
Madame: As a New Yorker and now as a Florentine: Which women are better dressed?
Paul Andrew: In New York everything revolves around sportswear and activewear, in Florence there is still a bit of the Old World. I like that.