Inside The Ferragamo & Gucci Museums

For my husband, delving into a museum is a travel must. For me, it’s more about delving into a latte and an artfully curated Boutique. But on a recent trip to Florence, we found a way for our worlds to (stylishly) collide: fashion museums.

Florence’s Gucci museum is only a year old, and it shows in the slick design and experience – a cool contrast with the 14th-century Piazza della Signoria building it’s housed in. When you arrive, you get a paper passport. Every section of the museum has a theme, from the iconic elements of the Gucci brand (bamboo, flora) to its historic and modern applications (luggage, sporting equipment). A smartly designed postcard for each section tells its story and fits neatly into the passport.

The tricked-out vintage Gucci Cadillac was a highlight. So was the slick café outside where I’ll cop to stealing the Gucci logo sugar cubes. Sadly, with my appetite whetted, there was only minimal opportunity to shop – a few Gucci pieces specially made for the museum.

The Ferragamo museum also lives in a historic building – the Palazzo Spini Feroni, a medieval palace built in the 13th century. However, rather than having a permanent exhibit like Gucci, the Ferragamo museum’s centerpiece is a changing exhibition – in this case all about Marilyn Monroe. While I’m no Marilyn aficionado, I did get a kick out of seeing her Ferragamo order slips.

But what I loved most about the museum were the more permanent elements – the historic shoes encased in glass and spotlighted around the periphery. I always associate Ferragamo with its classical appeal (bow ballets, anyone?). Until I saw these masterworks, I didn’t truly understand how innovative the brand is. Think elements like the cork heel (which Ferragamo actually created), artful cutouts, colorful satin linings, curved heels, and fishing line used for invisible suspension effects. Shoes on display from decades ago looked utterly current (and lust worthy) right now.

Best of all, the Ferragamo flagship is in the very same Palazzo as the museum, so you can dip right in while your heart is still beating wildly. Mine still is.

Our Salvatore Ferragamo Boutique opens on Monday, September 24, at 11AM ET.

By Rachel Solomon, Associate Creative Director

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September 24, 2012