But as the Great Depression of 1929 drew close, the magic of those precious shoes made of feathers and crystals seemed destined to end. Instead, the ever resourceful Ferragamo transformed the shortage of materials into a ground-breaking shoe that would receive the first patent in the history of fashion: the wedge.
None of the imported materials usually used in Ferragamo’s shoes, such as leather and metal, were available at the time, so he turned to cork and wood. A colorful version created by the designer in 1938 for the actress Judy Garland become a fashion icon. While the original Ferragamo wedges were designed to be comfortable, the “film” version dedicated to Judy Garland is 12 cm (almost 5 inches) high and made with strips of colored suede.
Today the Garland wedge is known more as a piece of design than as a shoe. In fact it belongs to the collections of both the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Triennale Design Museum in Milan.
As well as a design piece, a fashion icon and an amazing moment of genius, the Ferragamo wedge is a world wide symbol of the Italian attitude to fashion: be confortable but never sloppy!