Shoemaker Of Dreams Traces Ferragamo’s Hollywood Establishment

Shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo in the documentary Salvatore: Shoemaker Of Dreams by Luca Guadagnino.

Shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo in Luca Guadagnino’s documentary Salvatore: the cobbler of dreams.
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Through several beautifully costumed films, including A bigger splash and I am love-Luca Guadagnino has always been a filmmaker of deliciously chic images. It was therefore time for him to sign his name under a film expressly focused on fashion. With his documentary Salvatore: the cobbler of dreamsthe Italian director does just that, delivering an opulent portrayal of the titular renowned icon who created legendary Italian fashion label Salvatore Ferragamo alongside booming Hollywood in the early 20’s.e Century.

Compared to something like Frédéric Tcheng Dior and mea masterful and landmark fashion documentary that imaginatively weaves the historic past of the Maison Dior with its present and future, Guadagnino Salvatore takes a rather standard structural approach to tracing the path of Ferragamo’s legacy, telling the story of a young immigrant from rags to riches chronologically, for the most part. But to Guadagnino’s credit, it turns out to be exactly the right approach for the awe-inspiring story by the boots he wants to tell, a story gloriously haunted by the ghosts of Hollywood’s past, supported and elevated by the unparalleled craftsmanship of Ferragamo. In this respect, Ferragamo’s life story already possesses a deeply compelling cinematic texture and quality, invalidating any superfluous narrative embellishments that Guadagnino might have introduced elsewhere.

Sometimes through Ferragamo’s own narration – it’s a delight to hear his voice during those rare moments – but especially through passages pleasantly read by Michael Stuhlbarg, repeated collaborator of Guadagnino, the saga of Salvatore begins from his childhood in Bonito, Italy, when he was just a poor boy fascinated by the craft of shoemaking. He was an apprentice here, and a novice but skilled shoemaker there, even before he was a teenager, learning and refining the technique of sustainable footwear as a child laborer, unprotected by the laws of the time. Everything changed for young Salvatore when he immigrated to America in 1915 at the age of 16 after convincing his family that shoemaking was his calling. was only about 12 years old.

Adapting Ferragamo’s 1955 memoir, fashion journalist Dana Thomas aptly picks out the book’s most romantic segments, giving the viewer a nostalgic snapshot of a young Italian immigrant with big dreams. With that in mind, we learn that Ferragamo wrapped crumpled pieces of paper in a dollar bill in order to look sufficiently funded on his third-class trip to America, and wore a gabardine coat with a fur collar to avoid looking too Provençal when entering the country. across Ellis Island. Then Thomas and Guadagnino take us on another journey, this time a cross-country that Salvatore took from Boston to the warm shores of the West Coast, after realizing that the harshness of the coastal style of dress and architecture is didn’t really fit. with his sensitivity.

In California, namely in Santa Barbara where the heart of the film industry once beat, the young shoemaker found his rhythm, quickly proving indispensable to the American Film Company and the Silent Era with shoes he designed for everyone, including Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino and Lillian Gish, many of whom befriended.

There’s so much material to gush about in these segments for fashion aficionados and moviegoers alike, from the iconic curled-toe shoes of The Thief of Baghdad and recordings of Cecil B. DeMille and Charlie Chaplin, to various talking head interviews with a dizzying parade of high-profile names such as Martin Scorsese, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. Many other interviewees are descendants and living relatives of Ferragamo, nicely complementing his professional legacy (articulated in the film by various film critics and fashion industry moguls) with personal anecdotes that are both meaningful and intimate. . There’s also a wealth of archival footage throughout the film that anyone fascinated by the history of Hollywood – both the industry and the Los Angeles neighborhood nestled in the shadow of the iconic sign real estate – will find breathtaking.

SALVATORE: cobbler of dreams | Official trailer (2022)

Despite being a traditionally cluttered canvas, Guagadnino and editor Walter Fasano put all the pieces together as neatly as a Ferragamo shoe, occasionally showing us how a pair of the shoe styles are made. creator’s most famous. The most significant footage in this regard shows the assembly of a shimmering red pump that looks a lot like an update to Dorothy’s ruby. The Wizard of Oz slippers, as well as a colorful wedge sandal that looks like an artistic layer cake.

Whereas Salvatore does not expand on Ferragamo’s venture into other avenues of fashion, nor does it offer critical observations on today’s luxury goods trade (unlike that of 2019 Halston, another fashion documentary directed by Frédéric Tcheng), he still paints a full portrait of an artist so scientific that he took various college courses on human anatomy in order to understand the wonders of the foot. Topped off with a Busby Berkeley-style musical number of shoe hoops doing a synchronized dance, Guadagnino’s documentary is much like a walk through an immersive, interactive museum designed to make one nostalgic for a bygone era of art and culture. craftsmanship. It’s a magical thing.

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