At a certain point last year, effectively every working designer came to a realization: Should fashion weeks fall prey to the pandemic, they needed to have a backup plan. For Paul Andrew, creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo, the thought came over the summer, and was followed by another: He’d actually been productive by keeping his eyes glued to Netflix. The hours and hours of screen time gave him the idea to showcase Ferragamo’s spring 2021 collection via a short film.
Andrew was then down an Alfred Hitchcock rabbit hole, which immediately brought another (conveniently still living) director to mind: Luca Guadagnino. While best known for Call Me By Your Name, Andrew discovered Guadagnino through his 2009 film I Am Love, which was clearly Hitchcock-influenced. Luckily, Guadagnino was happy to pay tribute to Hitchcock once again with what ended up being a nine-minute short.
Guadagnino is no stranger to fashion. He recently designed a print for Fendi, which produced I Am Love. He has a history with Raf Simons, who has handled the wardrobes of his films—and this very magazine, for which he’s shot two editorials. As for Ferragamo specifically, the connection is deep; Guadagnino directed a documentary about the house’s namesake, Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams. All that was more than enough for Andrew to give him carte blanche.
Hitchcock would have had to go to great lengths to make Milan, home to more than 1.3 million, appear so desolate. The fact that Guadagnino didn’t only makes things eerier. He filmed models like Mariacarla Boscono and Anok Yai prowling through his old childhood haunts in mid-August, when Italy was under strict lockdown. (Though even in normal times, things would have been quiet. “Milan is known as one of Italy’s most hard-working cities,” Andrew said. “But when the summer comes, they take that extremely seriously too!”)
In the end, Andrew was able to go ahead with an IRL fashion show, just a month later. But the film, which is now available to the public, didn’t go to waste; it hit the runway before the models did, offering a preview of the collection. To Andrew, the two went hand-in-hand. The more hours he spent poring over the footage with Guadagnino, frame by frame, the more the process felt familiar.
“It reminded me of pulling apart a made garment or vintage shoe to discover the secrets of its construction,” Andrew said. “What we discovered was that the stills invited you to dwell on the qualities we’d worked to explore in the film; the texture and boldness of the collection, the interplay of the aesthetics between the construction of the accessories and the architecture of Milan, the impact of the Technicolor palette, and the mystery of the characters’ motives.”