When Wanda Ferragamo brought two of her sons, Massimo and Leonardo, to the United States for the first time in 1970, she wanted to make sure it was a trip to remember.
She set out with them from Italy on a boat, the same way her late husband — the legendary Salvatore Ferragamo — traveled when he emigrated to America in 1914.
“She wanted us to experience the same journey he did. She wanted us to understand how hard it was,” Massimo Ferragamo, the chairman of Ferragamo USA, said during a mass honoring his late mother at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York today. “She said, ‘You will go back to the U.S. many times, but the first time you should do it by boat.’ Needless to say, my brother and I experienced the best trip of our lives.”
The matriarch of the Ferragamo family, and honorary president of the company since 2006, died last month at age 96. She was instrumental in building the Italian label after her husband’s death in 1960. When Salvatore passed away, his wife, 38, was widowed with six children: Fiamma, Giovanna, Fulvia, Ferruccio, Massimo and Leonardo.
“She had children from ages 3 to 18,” Massimo recalled during the service. “And she had never worked a day in her life.”
Both brothers recalled how much their mother loved attending mass at St. Patrick’s. “It was one of the churches she adored,” Leonardo said. “She would be so touched to see so many friends here today.”
Wanda had a deep affinity for America and her many friends who lived here. “It was her second country. In her office hung an Italian flag and an American flag,” Massimo said. During one of Wanda’s many trips to New York, she would often walk down Fifth Avenue and see shoppers with their Ferragamo bags. “She would stop and congratulate them for their purchase,” he said.
In addition to Wanda’s sons tributes, her grandson Edoardo read a prayer during the service.