The Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence, Italy puts on some of the most captivating exhibitions. The famed Italian house has just launched their “Women In Balance,” exhibition curated by Stefania Ricci and Elvira Valleri that will last until May 2023.
Inspired by Wanda Miletti Ferragamo, the wife of Salvatore Ferragamo, who kept the house strong and steady after her husband died, until her death in 2018, is nothing short of remarkable. Mrs. Ferragamo married at 18 when her husband was 42. According to house notes, “In the first chapter of her life, Wanda was a wife, mother and homemaker.” She and Salvatore had six children, all of who would join the company. “In the second half of her life, she was a businesswoman whose family remained the linchpin around which her life revolved.”
For the museum, it was important to highlight Mrs. Ferragamo, a woman who took on the role of running a brand a big as Salvatore Ferragamo, something that women in her day did not have the opportunity to do. “This exhibition aims to show who Wanda really was and, at the same time and as she would have insisted, to tell the stories of other women who, between the late 1950s and the early 1960s, balanced personal success with devotion to their families.”
Focusing on various choices that Mrs. Ferragamo made after her husband died in 1960, of her decision to manage the company, which she affectionately called rising to the “challenge,” in her memoir, while still raising her children. The exhibition looks at women in professions of culture and sciences, who questioned the order in which things happen for women, but yet they chose to work while still choosing motherhood. “We women do everything, it doesn’t matter what or where our office is,” Mrs. Ferragamo wrote to her grandchildren, sharing how women have to balance family and work in the new social and economic context.
The year-long exhibition outlines the societal changes happening in Italy and around the world when Mrs. Ferragamo took the helm. A 2003 publication published by the Department for Equal Opportunities, under the Italian Prime Minister noted how Mrs. Ferragamo is one of Italy’s first captains of Italian industry. It shows how women in family businesses, and their succession are the rule and not the exception in Italy. Touching on the idea of “new humanism,” the exhibit shows how health wounds left by the pandemic give way to an evolved form of equality. There are contributions by artists that show their interpretation of modern relationship between people, family, civil society, and the state.