Shoemaker to the Stars!


The Vintage clothing industry has expanded vastly in recent years and is attracting more and more collectors. On display at the next Derwen Antique & Collectors Weekend at the National Botanic Garden of Wales will be a rare pair of 1930s shade shoes made by Salvatore Ferragamo complete with their own crushed velvet stretchers. As Hollywood’s most famous shoe designer, Salvatore Ferragamo created some of the most legendary shoes ever featured in film. He made sandals for the Cecil B. DeMille epic The Ten Commandments and Dorothy’s ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz, also Marilyn Monroe’s sexy stilettos in The Seven Year Itch, to name just a few!

What made Ferragamo shoes so desirable was his innovation, creativity, and dedication to quality. He believed that fashionable shoes didn’t have to be painful to wear, that they could be as comfortable as they were beautiful.

To achieve this end he enrolled in anatomy courses at The University of Southern California to learn all about the 26 bones which make up the human foot. With this knowledge, he was able to create some of the best fitting shoes ever made. He created custom wooden lasts in the shape of the feet of his regular clients. A handmade custom shoe made by Ferragamo could involve as many as five fittings to achieve perfection. It is no wonder that once an actor or actress wore a pair of Ferragamos in a movie they asked the shoemaker for many more pairs for their personal wardrobes!

Ferragamo was responsible for important structural innovations to footwear, such as the steel arch support system he designed to give proper support to not only the foot but the entire body. Another technical breakthrough – a metal interior heel – allowed the master to create the stiletto heel in the 1950s. The sexy design was popularised by Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe, and quickly became beloved for the way in which it made legs look impossibly long and seductive.

The fair will also showcase Welsh items for collectors including Welsh pottery, Welsh textiles, art and furniture. Richard Bebb will be displaying a rich array of Welsh paintings including works by the late Kyffin Williams, possibly the most famous of Welsh artists, whose birth one hundred years ago is being celebrated this year.

Admission to the Garden and for the Antiques Weekend is just £5, with free entry for National Botanic Garden of Wales members. There is plenty of free parking and dogs are also welcome.

For more information contact Brita Rogers on 01267 220260 or 07790 293367 or visit the website or Facebook page.

Woo Gilchrist