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The appropriate ShoesCooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Shortly after the Colour Strikes: Artwork and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay exhibition opened, I received a call from the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence. The exhibition features a present-stopping coat designed by Delaunay for the actress Gloria Swanson. The Ferragamo Museum urged that they had the design for a matching shoe. Ferragamo moved to Hollywood in 1915, when he was simply seventeen years outdated. By the 1920s, he was already often called “shoemaker to the stars,” and two of his most necessary shoppers had been Greta Garbo and Gloria Swanson. Delaunay’s coat is totally coated wool embroidery in interlocking rectangles reflecting the influence of each Cubism and African art. The shoes mimic the interlocking design, however in a patchwork of coloured leathers. There is no evidence that the two designers ever collaborated or knew each other. But there may be ample evidence that Ferragamo was conscious of Delaunay’s work in addition to that of the Italian Futurists, with whom she shared an intellectual rivalry. Furthermore, each Delaunay and Ferragamo preferred sturdy contrasts of colors and used shade blocking to reinforce a way of movement. For a deeper look at Delaunay’s influence on Ferragamo, check out the new Inspiration and Imaginative and prescient exhibition on the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo—or the catalogue, in case you can’t make it to Florence!

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Salvatore Ferragamo. Shoe designed for Gloria Swanson.