The Genteel
October 24, 2020


Salvatore Ferragamo Resort 2013 at the Louvre. Source:
Salvatore Ferragamo LOuvre
Muted greys, cloudy whites and 
 blush tones dominated the collection.

With the likes of Prada, Max Mara and Zilli sponsoring art collections and Louis Vuitton and Hermès employing artists to design handbags and scarves, the relationship between high fashion and high art has long been close. On June 12, it became even tighter, with the exhibition of Salvatore Ferragamo's Cruise collection at the Louvre in Paris.

Although the Jardin des Tuileries, the long stretch of park next to the Louvre, is thick with white show tents every Paris Fashion Week, this was the first time the museum itself had opened its doors to a commercial fashion activity. Given the museum's financial situation, it's not surprising.

Although the Louvre is owned by the French government, in 2003, the museum was required to generate more funds independently for projects. By 2006, government funding dropped from 75 to 62 per cent of its total budget, and perhaps as a consequence, in 2007 the Louvre made a controversial deal with Abu Dhabi to open a branch there (work on the project was temporarily suspended, but has now resumed).

With a constant need to refill its coffers, having corporate sponsors for specific exhibitions became another means of generating funds for the vast cultural vault. The House of Salvatore Ferragamo made its contribution here as the exclusive sponsor of the recent exhibition celebrating the renovation of Leonardo da Vinci's last great masterpiece, The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne.

Dior Couture at the Uffizi? Prada F/W at the Tate?

The muted, classical colours of the da Vinci work seemed to influence Ferragamo's head designer, Massimiliano Giornetti: models strutted down the quarter mile long catwalk in silvery grey crocheted dresses, slim, cloudy white trousers, blush-toned, fringed shifts and python boots and sandals in the same hues. The entire collection was in stark contrast to the flashy colours and splashy patterns shown last year by the house.

Aiming to more closely link fashion and art, Ferragamo invited guests, including Frida Pinto, Hilary Swank and the ubiquitous Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, to a private viewing of the da Vinci exhibit before the catwalk show began. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Giornetti articulated the connection between clothing design and art: "I think of fashion as a live form of art, bringing to life artisanal tradition," he stated. But the designer also emphasised that the Louvre show was an opportunity to express connections between art, history and Italian heritage, particularly "the artistic and artisan traditions of Tuscany."

A family business for generations, Ferragamo has always kept its eye on the future, and is recognised in the industry for its forward thinking. To wit: it was one of the first fashion houses to recognise the importance of the emerging Asian markets, and was a retailing pioneer there; others eagerly and rapidly followed. Could the same hold true for catwalk venues? Dior Couture at the Uffizi? Prada F/W at the Tate? Don't be surprised if art soon gets far more fashionable.



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