Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams is all about shoes
Salvatore: the cobbler of dreams Exam
Whether you own dozens of pairs of Ferragamo shoes or you’re someone who only knows names like Salvatore Ferragamo and Manolo Blahnik since they were mentioned on sex and the city, Salvatore: the cobbler of dreams is a fascinating documentary about Ferragamo, his shoe empire and his time in Hollywood.
Realized by call me by your name director Luca Guadagnino, in one of two films he released this month, Salvatore is a long story of the creator’s life, born in poor circumstances in Bonito, Italy, in 1898, and died at 62 years old in 1960. His widow Wanda Ferragamo, the mother of his six children who took over the fashion house after his death, lived until 2018 and was interviewed for the film.
The film, among other things, makes it clear that “cobbler” was not close to a fashionable vocation, and that Ferragamo helped bring about the concept of “famous fashion designer”.
Ferragamo has been dead for more than 60 years, but the film has a lot going for it: his recorded voice, a memoir directed aloud by frequent Guadagnino collaborator Michael Stuhlbarg, cooperation from Ferragamo’s estate, and a group of talking heads. directed by Martin Scorsese, as well as Blahnik himself.
“My desire to work with the feet was relentless,” Ferragamo is heard saying, in a quote we may one day see again in a Quentin Tarantino documentary. Although, as we learn in the film, QT was far from the first major filmmaker to indulge his love of female feet in his work; DW Griffith also had such tendencies almost a century ago.
Indeed, while Salvatore spends time talking about the creator’s beginnings in a family of 11 children, as well as his emigration to the United States at age 16 and his arrival in Boston, the most compelling part of the film is his arrival in Hollywood during his formative years.
There, over a period of decades, he made shoes for the movies, as well as for starlets to wear. It started in the Silent Age, went bankrupt during the Depression, and made a comeback soon after, becoming the shoe supplier of choice for Bette Davis and Marilyn Monroe. At the same time, they feature what appeared to be Ferragamo’s family life; if this family or business has ever had a drama in the tradition of Gucci House, we don’t hear about it here.
The film ends with a very impressive montage, called “shoe ballet”, of many of Ferragamo’s notable creations. That was enough to impress me, someone who knows enough about women’s shoes to fill a thimble.
Salvatore: the cobbler of dreams opened Nov. 4 in select cities with expansion coming later.