One of 14 children, Ferragamo was apprenticed to a shoemaker in Naples at the age of 11, before opening his first shop within his parents' home in 1912. At 16 he travelled to Boston to work with a brother at a cowboy-boot factory – a job which lasted just 15 days. In his twenties he moved to California, where he secured his first contract with an American film company, making boots for the actors in Westerns. By 1919, he had set up his own shoe-repair and made-to-measure shop in Santa Barbara before adding another branch in Hollywood. Ferragamo found himself working with Tinseltown's finest, both on screen and off. And, with the endorsement of names such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn and Princess Grace of Monaco, his endeavours soon returned impressive financial results.
Focused only on improving his craft, Ferragamo undertook an education in anatomy at the University of Southern California so as to design shoes that not only looked good but were comfortable, too. In 1927, he returned to Italy, setting up shop in Florence, where the company's design team remains to this day, alongside a museum dedicated to the brand's history and extensive archive.
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