From 1960 until her death on 19 October 2018, Wanda Miletti Ferragamo was the head of the Salvatore Ferragamo brand, constantly seeking a balance between her work and family. In August 1960, when her husband died, instead of closing the business, she decided to transform an artisanal workshop for women’s shoes into a fashion house, where her children could continue the tradition of innovation and creativity that Salvatore had begun. A reserved woman, Wanda Ferragamo did not like to talk about herself or boast of her success. This is why we have decided to honour her memory with an exhibition that examines the complexities of what it was to be a woman in Italy between the fifties and sixties, when Wanda changed the course of her life. They were the years that came to be known as the “economic miracle”, a time of profound change for the country, when women were entering different sectors of Italian society, helping to build the Italian republic. They were women in search of new ways of being that continue to call into question the present in which we live, as demonstrated by the interviews in a documentary film shown as part of the exhibition. Through objects, clothing, works of art, videos and photographs, the exhibition traces the activities and choices of women of different ages, including those who gained entry to fields of work previously reserved almost exclusively to men: women in the professions, the arts and culture, politics and the workforce, whose personal experiences shed light on the longest revolution of contemporary times, that which marked the end of the separation of gender-based roles.
In the background lie the many questions created by the pandemic, which has also highlighted the urgent need to more carefully examine gender relationships. To this end, the exhibition at Palazzo Spini Feroni includes a virtual project developed in collaboration with the Arts Curating course of the Istituto Marangoni of Florence, in which the works and testimonies of eleven international women artists were gathered and explored for a collective reflection on identity as the central subject of our contemporary condition.