The grandson of Salvatore Ferragamo tells us what he really thinks about the house's new design director
It's a chilly spring night in Seoul. 10 degrees celsius, thereabouts. James Ferragamo is standing outside The Shilla. He's in a sharp suit, patiently waiting. By his side, Salvatore Ferragamo's global CEO Eraldo Poletto and Paul Andrew, the new design director of women's footwear at Ferragamo. It's a momentous night for the 90-year-old Italian company; Andrew's first collection for the brand was to be unveiled to a key audience.
James glances to his right and smiles. The first local celebrity had just arrived. The cameras flash ceaselessly and the handshakes begin. Lee Dong Wook, SeolHyun, Lee MinJung, Yoon EunHye, U-ie... he personally welcomes every one of Seoul's personalities who've taken time out of their schedules to attend Ferragamo's landmark event. It's getting colder now. The last celebrity is ushered into the comfort of The Shilla's courtyard replete with heaters, but he's told he needs to speak to one last person — a lightning tête-à-tête with Buro 24/7 Singapore before he inaugurates Andrew's debut pre-fall collection.
"I think [Paul's] such a talent. He's able to really understand our DNA and bring it forward with innovation while maintaining that craftsmanship," James indulges, brimming with warmth despite the dipping mercury, and filled with praise for Ferragamo's new leading man. "What kind of innovation?" I ask. James' grandfather Salvatore was known for his inventions and patents — big shoes for Andrew to fill.
"We have 15,000 pairs of shoes in our archives and we always research and go back to that, but what's incredible about Paul is that he makes it modern and contemporary. He makes something the customer really wants. He looks back at our history, and interprets it in a very contemporary way for today," James explains.
By now, he's needed indoors. The party has taken off. Celebrities are mingling; a sign that our minute is up, and Andrew's shining moment awaits. But we're curious about the question the man behind-the-scenes gets asked the most when people realise he's a Ferragamo. James smiles. "Where do you buy your shoes, they ask me," he laughs. "But it's Ferragamo, of course!"