Paul Andrew may have started out as a footwear designer, but in his current job at Ferragamo, it’s becoming less and less of the entire story — especially after the announcement of a promotion on Thursday, making Andrew the creative director of the entire brand.
At Ferragamo’s fall ‘19 show in Milan on Saturday, Andrew again demonstrated his formula of reworking footwear from the archives while doubling down on leather-based ready-to-wear. “I think that we should own leather clothing,” Andrew told FN backstage after the show. “Ready-to-wear is a huge opportunity for the brand. Now doing the shows, which I hope people like, we are seeing great response in the stores, and the hope is really to increase the business there.”
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Changing the retail experience is one of the top priorities in his new, more overarching role for Ferragamo. “We are going to really consolidate things,” said Andrew. “The idea is that you’ll walk into Ferragamo stores or go onto our website and see a very clear, complete vision of the brand.” While the designer did not have any specific examples of how that experience will change, he did say that it will happen “very fast.”
How footwear will specifically factor into that experience also remains to be seen. Though the designer included on his mood board a 1942 patchwork wedge and a 1968 kitten heel slingback based on a shoe that Fiamma Ferragamo (Salvatore’s daughter) created, the runway proved a difficult space to showcase the shoes, as drapey tailoring and heavy leather pieces obscured many of the styles.
Those that were on view included a slingback inspired by the aforementioned Fiamma-designed shoe, a vintage-looking ankle strap sandal and suede boots (of particular note, a teal that was reminiscent of spring ‘19’s palette) — all of which had a tapered triangular heel that also came from Fiamma’s creation. “I reworked the heel completely,” said Andrew. “I made it much slimmer in the top shank section. There are actually three heights of it in the show.”
The designer also brought back the ostrich boots that made their debut for fall ‘18. “I love the texture and dimension of it. And we are a brand that sells exotics,” he said. Updates to all of fall ‘19’s boots included substantially less hardware and the addition of a loud logo print.
Men’s footwear consisted of a clunky boot with a workwear silhouette, plus a few requisite dress options. On the subject of the brand’s men’s offerings, Andrew was quick to point out that menswear design director will be sticking around. “Guillaume and I work extremely well together, and it’s not any sort of demotion for him that I’m taking over,” said Andrew. “He is going to be working on all different product categories with me.”
Andrew was also insistent that despite the larger brand initiatives in retail and ready-to-wear, footwear still comes first. “[It] will always be the focus for Ferragamo, and it’s always my first passion because that’s my background,” he said. “Ferragamo was born in shoes.” Wise words for the designer to remember as he moves forward in his new role.