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Ferragamo Celebrates 80th Anniversary in Shanghai

At the opening of the exhibition "Salvatore Ferragamo: Evolving Legend 1928-2008" on Friday at the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, the biggest crowd-pleaser wasn't the collectable bags...

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SHANGHAI — At the opening of the exhibition "Salvatore Ferragamo: Evolving Legend 1928-2008" on Friday at the Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, the biggest crowd-pleaser wasn't the collectable bags, the chandelier of perfume bottles, the walls of shoes, or even the vintage footwear that had been worn by Hollywood icons like Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe. Rather, it was the workshop, where craftsmen worked away on bags, belts and shoes displaying the various states and steps of their production.

Craftmanship and heritage competed with glamour throughout the three days of events the Ferragamo brand held here to commemorate its 80th anniversary and display its growing business in the Far East. In addition to the exhibition, Ferragamo last weekend launched a timepiece line and a fragrance, held a private cocktail party at the Shanghai home of Hong Kong socialite Pearl Lam and staged a fashion show and party.

The anniversary show at MoCA was "made and designed for Shanghai," said Ferragamo chief executive officer and group managing director Michele Norsa, although the show is an extension of the original retrospective that debuted in 1985 at the brand's headquarters. It will return to Italy later this year, and then will continue on the road; it has already received invitations from Bangkok and Dubai.

The exhibition includes sections on Ferragamo's relationships with the film industry and art world; Florence and the brand's Palazzo Spini Feroni; the craftmanship, materials and anatomical fit; technology and logos, and silk printing. Many of the items are displayed in small pagodas in the shapes of Ferragamo's iconic bags.

The fashion show and party were held in two elaborately redone massive halls at the semicompleted Shanghai International Ferry Terminal in the Hongkou District, along the northwest shore of the Huangpu River. The terminal is part of an enormous area, including the historic Jewish ghetto, that is being mostly demolished and rebuilt under the title North Bund and the auspices of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. The show, of Ferragamo's fall line, opened and closed with elegant performances by Italian ballet dancer and Ferragamo brand ambassador Roberto Bolle. The waterfront party included fireworks from across the river and a passing barge with a giant LCD screen showing the brand's ads.
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