The Story Behind Ferragamo’s F Heel Invisible Shoe That Got a Makeover 70 Years Later

When those suede and velvet shoe boots with their lacquered gold heels floated down Salvatore Ferragamo’s fall 2017 runway, they created a real frisson. Yes those, the ones that practically didn’t have any heels at all.

For the contemporary audience, their resonance was immediate thanks to their bold deco silhouette; however, for the footwear historian, they had a deeper significance. They were an inspired reinterpretation of an original Salvatore Ferragamo creation from 1947 as reimagined by Ferragamo’s new footwear designer, Paul Andrew.

Ferragamo F Heel Invisible shoe, 1947.
Ferragamo F Heel Invisible shoe, 1947.
CREDIT: Ferragamo

The F Heel was originally designed for a sandal patented in 1947. Ferragamo legend has it that the silhouette, like that of a ship’s stern, was inspired by the liner on which Salvatore had sailed home to Italy from America some 20 years earlier. The design scooped him the Neiman Marcus award for style in Dallas — an honor equivalent to a CFDA award today.

Andrew’s version actually made its debut in Ferragamo’s pre-fall 2017 collection. However, this was shrouded in secrecy until after the fall show. A pre-fall collection is generally a bridge into the upcoming fall line. Discretion was called for to prevent any spoilers. Series two of “Stranger Things” ain’t got nothing on this.

Resort 2018 update, shown today in New York, features a tie-front slingback version.

Ferragamo F Wedge shoe, 2017.
Ferragamo F Wedge shoe, fall 2017.
CREDIT: Ferragamo

“It’s the most incredible construction; when you wear it; it’s basically like you’re walking on air,” Andrew said. “Ferragamo’s whole idea was about fusing amazing state-of-the-art technology with craftsmanship,” he continued, explaining that his own interpretation involved lacquering his heels in a car factory and uses a crimping machine to shape the leather without the addition of a seam. The process has to be repeated 11 times and takes three days to complete.

The body of the Salvatore Ferragamo original was made of transparent plastic — hence its name, the Invisible sandal. Yes, if you thought footwear’s current obsession with the “naked shoe” were cutting-edge, it’s probably time to think again. Mr Ferragamo was always way ahead of the curve.

patent, Salvatore Ferragamo F Heel, Invisible shoe, vintage
The patent for the Salvatore Ferragamo F Heel Invisible shoe.
CREDIT: Ferragamo
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