Remembering Wanda Ferragamo: Three Lessons James Ferragamo Learned From His Grandmother

Editor’s Note: Wanda Ferragamo  — the wife of the late legendary designer Salvatore Ferragamo — died today at the age of 96. Wanda, a mother of six, served as the honorary chairwoman of the company until her death and made huge contributions to the storied Italian label. Last year, James Ferragamo, the director of men’s and women’s shoes and the leather division, talked to FN about the valuable lessons he learned from his grandmother. 

On stepping into her late husband’s shoes: 

“She dedicated her life to the pursuit of what he wanted the brand to become. It was only a women’s shoe label when [Salvatore] died. There are not many brands that would have been able to progress in such a way.”

James Ferragamo

On her guiding principles:

“She gave a silver doll to every single Ferragamo cousin. There are 23 of us. The doll has a weight at the bottom. When it falls over, it comes back up. It is to remind us not to be scared of failing. If you are scared of making errors, you’re not going to go very far.”

On her collection of letters: 

“We keep her letters in four volumes of this red book. She wrote us stories about her father: how he was involved in the First World War and the difficulties he had to go through as a doctor. I look them over a lot with my kids.”

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