Nearly 100 years after the Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo founded his eponymous label, his immediate family continues to walk in his footsteps. Following Ferragamo's death in 1960, his widow Wanda, along with their six children, took over the running of the business and built it into a luxury purveyor of bags, silk accessories, watches, eyewear and ready-to-wear collections.
His second eldest child, Giovanna Gentile Ferragamo, visited the UAE last week to launch the label's new fragrance, Signorina, and revealed the secret to the family's enduring success.
"We joined one by one over the years and were lucky enough to be appointed to different departments and sectors of the company," she says. "So there wasn't really any overlapping of any kind and we would always come together to make major decisions. I feel very lucky, as it was one of the best experiences anyone could have had. The fabulous team of my brothers, sisters and mother working together in fantastic harmony allowed us to achieve so many fantastic goals over the years."
Having created the house's pret-a-porter line for women back in the 1960s, Giovanna is now the brand's vice president and is determined the company, now part-owned by shareholders, will continue to move with the times - hence the birth of a new signature fragrance whose name means "girl" in Italian.
"You have to move as fast as the world moves," she says. "We're attentive to what the trends are and times are changing. Needs are now different to what they were. Two members of the young Ferragamo generation have also been with the company for a few years now and they seem to be doing very well and are taking things in the same direction we started."
Signorina has Ferragamo's trademark sophistication, but the notes of currant and pink pepper melded with jasmine, rose and peony come together to make an unmistakably youthful scent.
Accompanying Ferragamo to Dubai, having just rolled out the fragrance in Moscow, was the company's chief executive of fragrances, Luciano Bertinelli, who says the perfume is almost good enough to eat.
"It's a floral, fruity fragrance with one very specific characteristic - we added some panna cotta," he says. "It gives it a really unique, sweet flavour - adding gourmand or special food products to fragrances is a new trend you'll find especially in the US at the moment."
Bertinelli is keen to attract the next generation of Ferragamo fans with the scent, a demographic he gauges to be between 18 and 35 years of age and describes as young ladies who are "chic and elegant" without being "fashion victims". Seeming to capture the spirit of this new endeavour is the top model Bianca Balti who, dressed in a peach-pleated summer dress, fronts the campaign and stars in a vignette directed by Sonia Sieff.
She's young, beautiful and Italian to the core, just like the iconic Ferragamo "Vara" bow that reassuringly sits atop the Signorina perfume bottle.
The romantic, soft-focused advertising presents a dream lifestyle seemingly accessible for women who can purchase everything Balti is wearing, right down to her Ferragamo shoes, which, along with handbags, happen to be part of the bestselling line for the brand in the Middle East region.
If Giovanna had to choose her favourite item from the label's expansive range of goods, she'd settle for the footwear, faithful to the company's humble origins.
"I must say that the shoes are what I care for the most," she says. "Among the styles I really like are a pump with an 8-centimetre heel, in tan or noisette colour. Very plain, with no signature or detail, nothing at all.
"It is feminine, supple and light. And the way it's cut is very recognisable - the silhouette really says Ferragamo."
• To watch the video with model Bianca Balti and for more information on Ferragamo's Spring/Summer 2012 collection, visit www.ferragamo.com. Signorina is available at Areej stores in the UAE
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