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Ferragamo, Fiamma (1941–1998)

Ferragamo, Fiamma (1941–1998)

Italian shoe designer. Born Fiamma di San Giuliano Ferragamo in Florence, Italy, in 1941; died of breast cancer at her home in Florence on September 28, 1998; eldest of three boys and two girls; daughter of Salvatore Ferragamo (d. 1960, founder of Salvatore Ferragamo Italia) and Wanda Ferragamo (chair of Salvatore Ferragamo Italia).

Born in 1941 in Florence, Italy, the daughter of Salvatore Ferragamo and Wanda Ferragamo , Fiamma Ferragamo began working for her father's famous shoe company when she was just 16. Three years later, her father, dying of cancer, handed her the reins of the prestigious shoe label. Though Salvatore Ferragamo Italia was making shoes for European royalty and Hollywood luminaries, Fiamma took the company even further—building it into a powerful international fashion influence.

As a designer for the company, Ferragamo valued elegance and comfort and in the 1960s created one of the most enduring upscale shoe designs, the "Vara." She was accorded the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in Fashion in 1967. As executive vice president and company board member, she worked incessantly, promoting her shoes and masterminding acquisitions; in 1996, Salvatore Ferragamo Italia was doing so well it acquired the Emanuel Ungaro company.

In the late 1980s, Ferragamo was diagnosed with breast cancer and doctors thought the disease would take her life within months. But the active businesswoman defied the odds and ran her company with vigor for ten more years, even attending meetings just two weeks before her death at age 57. Fiamma Ferragamo also served on the Italian Environmental Fund board, which preserves historic Italian homes.


"Fiamma Ferragamo, Shoe Designer," in The [New London] Day, September 30, 1998.

Jacquie Maurice , Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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