Can Paul Andrew Fix Ferragamo’s Fashion Problem?

Well, that was fast.

A year after announcing a great fashion experiment — not one but three design directors: a different talent for women’s wear, men’s wear and footwear — and not quite two weeks after a critically savaged ready-to-wear show, Salvatore Ferragamo has decided that maybe a trio of designers for a single brand was one designer too many.

As of Thursday, Fulvio Rigoni, the women’s design director, has left the company, and Paul Andrew, formerly design director of footwear, has been named creative director, women’s collections. He now has responsibility for the clothes as well as for all accessory collections, and for brand image.

Even though Mr. Andrew has had no professional experience designing clothes. (He has had his own shoe brand since 2012, has made the runway shoes for such names as Diane Von Furstenberg, Donna Karan and Vera Wang, and won the Council of Fashion Designers of America Swarovski Award for Accessory Design in 2016.)

“Paul has a dynamic vision for the Ferragamo woman, which he has demonstrated with crystal precision and success in footwear over the past year,” Eraldo Poletto, the Ferragamo group chief executive, said in the announcement. “I am confident that with this new responsibility, Paul will now be able to creatively unify all categories of the women’s business with coherence and synergy, strengthening our brand identity.”

“Coherence” being the operative word here, and something that was notably lacking in the brand’s most recent show, which featured footwear by Mr. Andrew and clothes by Mr. Rigoni, and was generally perceived as making no sense.

What does make sense is that Mr. Andrew would come out on top, given the number of editors in the audience wearing his latest Ferragamo shoes (you could tell by the gold flower-shaped heel), and the fact that Salvatore Ferragamo himself, a shoemaker, built his brand on footwear. Also the fact that in the first six months of 2017, apparel — both men’s and women’s — was responsible for only 5.8 percent of group revenues, while footwear was responsible for 43.6 percent.


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