“I wasn’t sure what to expect,” 27-year-old Maximilian Davis confessed ahead of his first show for Ferragamo. He remembered his first encounter with the Florentine house before the summer. He continued: “But as soon as I arrived, I felt a very favorable energy. And the team and the family were delighted to have a new direction: I think everyone was waiting for this new start.
Davis’ mandate under veteran CEO Marco Gobbetti, whose transformative track record includes working with Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy and Phoebe Philo at Celine, is to do what these designers once did: bring a new generation of customers before -gardeners in this once revolutionary but recently conservative house.
The signifier grand gesture of Davis’ fresh start included abandoning “Salvatore”, moving from a cursive typeface to something much more in line with contemporary design consensus, and calling for a new house color: a specific tone of red striking. It was unmissable, stained in the wet, rain-spattered sand that covered the floor of the courtyard and painted on the planks that decorated the arcaded arches of this 17th-century Milanese seminar venue. The place is currently being turned into a hotel by the Ferragamo family’s Lungarno group, so it should prove a convenient show space for at least a season or two. The red represented Davis’ eponymous label (now pending), where it echoed the flag of Trinidad and Tobago and its heritage. It also hints at the heritage of Ferragamo, one of whose many famous archival shoes is a beaded red pump made for Marilyn Monroe by the founder in the 1950s.
So much for the codes: And the clothes? Says Davis, “I’m developing new fabrications and introducing new silhouettes for the brand, and trying to figure out what the young client needs to make it a success.” There was a strong play for head-to-toe color in athletic-inspired suits and men’s technical jackets and pants. A complete look in red, five-pocket trousers and a turtleneck, was beaded in homage to Monroe’s pumps.
Inspired by the founder’s early incarnations as a cobbler in Hollywood, Davis riffed on sunset and sunrise via bleeding-print gradient fabrics that were themselves inspired by artist Rachel Harrison. Sunset series. This detail meshed well with the use of heat sensitive and heat sensitive fabrics from rust to apricot in simple cuts.
Sewing was presented in chunky, solid shapes, with twist and movement through the addition of waistband detailing or the removal of sleeves. It was often made in a delicately finished double-sided crepe. There was a “playful, slightly kinky energy,” Davis suggested, in cropped leather and suede shorts. As for accessories, hardware from the house of Gancini was reflected in the heel of a beautiful new strappy sandal and the strap-like hardware of a small clutch. It was also traced in the neckline of a royal charcoal evening dress.
Davis talked about “re-energizing” Ferragamo. The applause that greeted this first episode of his tenure suggests that he is already forging new relationships in this vital quest for currency.