The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence, Italy is known for its gripping showcases and it has now launched the ‘Women In Balance’ exhibition, curated by author Stefania Ricci and Elvira Valleri. Running until 18 April 2023, the exhibition celebrates the life and legacy of the late Wanda Miletti Ferragamo, wife of Salvatore Ferragamo, who took over the house after her husband died until 2018.
Wanda Miletti Ferragamo
As part of ‘Women in Balance’, Salvatore Ferragamo traces women’s lives through the late 1950s and the early 1960s. Using objects, clothing, works of art, videos and photographs, the display examines the complexities of what it was like to be a woman in Italy, and how Wanda Ferragamo managed the brand during the time the field was reserved almost exclusively for men.
Salvatore Ferragamo, Palazzo, 1961. Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Florence.
“In the first chapter of her life, Wanda was a wife, mother and homemaker,” the House notes. The duo has six children, all of whom have joined the company. “In the second half of her life, she was a businesswoman whose family remained the linchpin around which her life revolved.” When her husband passed away in August 1960, she decided to transform an artisanal workshop for women’s shoes into a fashion house instead of closing the business. The exhibition features interviews and a documentary film that chart her career.
Claire tabouret, Portrait of Wanda Miletti Ferragamo, 2022, acrylic and ink on paper. Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Florence.
“This exhibition aims to show who Wanda really was and, at the same time and as she would have insisted, to tell the stories of other women who, between the late 1950s and the early 1960s, balanced personal success with devotion to their families.”
Drawing of models, panel by Carla Badiali for the New York fashion show, 1950s. Como, Private collection.
The ‘Women in Balance’ showcase also includes a virtual project developed in collaboration with the Arts Curating course of the Istituto Marangoni of Florence, called ‘A Feminine Lexicon’. The virtual gallery combines the works and testimonies of 11 international women artists who explore the concept of ‘reflection on identity’, drawing connections between language and identity.
Interiority, 2020-2021. Plaster, oil, enamel on linen canvas on wooden silhouette. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano. Courtesy of the artist Alice Visentin and Castello di Perno.
Among the showcasing artists are Monia Ben Hamouda, Stacey Gillian Abe, Helena Hladilová, Lebohang Kganye, ChongYan Liu, Reba Maybury, Alfiah Rahdini, Haruka Sakaguchi, Griselda San Martin, Johanna Toruño and Alice Visentin.
Night of Hinnā, Installation View at BUNGALOW/ChertLüdde, Berlin, 2021. Photo: Andrea Rossetti. Courtesy of the artist Monia Ben Hamouda and BUNGALOW/ChertLüdde, Berlin.
“We women do everything, it doesn’t matter what or where our office is,” Wanda Ferragamo wrote to her grandchildren, sharing how women have to balance family and work in the new social and economic context. Viewers can also explore the ‘Women in Balance’ display virtually on the House’s website.
Images via Salvatore Ferragamo