F.K.A. Salvatore Ferragamo: The Italian Fashion House Would Like to Reintroduce Itself
Everything is looking shiny and new at Ferragamo, where creative director Maximilian Davis used his debut at the house's spring 2023 runway show to reveal a creative overhaul in pursuit of the fashion world’s bright young things.
Changing out logos and leadership is a time-honored tradition in the fashion world. But when the staid house of Ferragamo announced a new Peter Saville–designed logo bearing a truncated name just one day before the Milan Fashion Week debut of newly appointed creative director Maximilian Davis? That got people talking for a few reasons.
Swapping out ornate logos rich with heritage in favor of blocky and severe, typically sans-serif typeface has been a broader trend in the past decade, unofficially kicked off when Yves Saint Laurent became Saint Laurent Paris under Hedi Slimane in 2012. Balenciaga followed suit, debuting its new logo under Demna Gvasalia five years later, and Céline became Celine under Slimane a year after that. On the tech side, Pinterest recently joined suit, to say nothing of Meta’s pivot away from Facebook’s nostalgic typeface.
In fashion, at least, debuting a trifecta of “new”: new creative director, collection, and logo has become the mode de rigeur of announcing a fresh and forward-thinking direction. In the mid-aughts, Apple provided arguably the most successful, and certainly the most memorable example of announcing the advent of a new worldview with a revamped visual identity that prized a visionary sort of minimalism. The move effectively indoctrinated a new generation of Millennial and Gen Z consumers with a perception of chicness that clearly persists even now.
The move on Ferragamo’s part jogged the memories of a few who remember when Burberry, another heritage (if not of-the-moment) house unveiled a new logo by Saville under Riccardo Tisci’s appointment as the label’s chief creative officer in 2018. Tisci was tapped for the Burberry role by then-CEO Marco Gobbetti after spending more than a decade in the top post at Givenchy, where he was lauded for having reinvigorated the French fashion house by dressing era-defining celebrities like Beyoncé and Michelle Obama and drumming up hype with collaborations well ahead of his time with the likes of Kehinde Wiley and Nike as early as 2013.
In January, Gobbetti decamped from Burberry to assume the chief executive post at Ferragamo, where, in May, he appointed Davis to the role of creative director. At the age of 27, Davis has already shown his eponymous collection at London Fashion Week and has dressed the likes of Rihanna and Dua Lipa. In discussing his label’s London Fashion Week debut with The Fade in 2021, the topic turned to the prospect of one day leading a major fashion house. “It would be nice to be a Black designer in that position, which is very rare,” Davis said at the time. “I would just love to see everyone wearing my clothes. The whole fucking world.”
Fast forward to his debut Ferragamo collection, where the designer referenced his own background as well as that of the Florentine fashion house with a red runway that paid homage to both the designer’s Trinidadian roots and also to an archival pair of red pumps designed by Salvatore himself for Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s.
In an interview with Vogue, Davis spoke of “re-energizing” Ferragamo—a sentiment emphasized by the collection’s leather suiting with a short-short twist, along with catsuits and a sheer beaded turtleneck inspired by those famous shoes. It’s easy to imagine the likes of Lorde donning the beaded ensemble in a magazine’s cover story photoshoot, or Timothée walking the red carpet premiere of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune sequel in the collection’s gauzy, plunge-neckline anorak pantsuit. Though it’s early days, by all accounts Davis’s debut has been successful: the designer walked to spirited applause from his audience while fashion critic Cathy Horyn lauded the collection’s “youthful polish”—a characterization not typically associated with the Ferragamo of yore.
Still, fashion house overhauls are not unanimously embraced—by the public or shareholders. When Hedi Slimane succeeded Phoebe Philo and changed Celine’s logo by dropping the accent on the “e,” it caused an uproar among the French house’s devotees. When he changed the clothes themselves, it ignited an entire cottage industry dedicated to circulating Philo-designed garments—or at least appreciating them.
And on Monday, unbeknownst to attendees, Tisci gave his final presentation for Burberry before Daniel Lee’s appointment to the role was announced just 48 hours later. Summarizing Tisci’s tenure at Burberry, the New York Times wrote: “He sought to modernize its offerings and logo as well as to attract younger, more diverse customers. However, soaring prices and slick but soulless designs meant that Burberry never quite reached the heights hoped for by fans and investors alike—or that Mr. Tisci was able to create at his previous job at Givenchy. Burberry also had lost the link to its British heritage that had set it apart from every other major luxury brand.”
Of Davis’s installment at Ferragamo, one thing is certain: the fashion house is already on its way up. If he can inspire even a fraction of the breathless wonder the industry bestowed upon his own label in his new post at the Italian fashion house, he’ll be unstoppable.
Everyone knows, or perhaps is, the discerning shopper who perks up when the words “Phoebe Philo–era” show up on The RealReal. But in Ferragamo’s case, there’s no reason to catastrophize a change in logo or direction. To the honed eye, Olivier Rousteing’s mastery of form at Balmain, the rock-and-roll of Anthony Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent, and, as we see more of it, the youthful spirit of Davis’s Ferragamo will still be distinct, even if, from a distance, their logos are not.