What can sponsoring a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition at the Louvre get you? For Italian fashion house Salavatore Ferragamo, it granted them a privilege that no other brand has had in the French institution’s 900-year existence: the permission to present the first runway show inside the storied halls of the museum.
On Tuesday evening in Paris an audience of buyers, fashion press, V.I.P.s, and celebrities watched a stream of models walk down a 400-foot runway beneath the grand arches of the Denon peristyle that surrounds the Louvre, wearing creative director Massimiliano Giornetti’s fringe-filled Native American-influenced resort 2013 collection for Ferragamo. Those who weren’t invited to the actual event could watch the show streamed live on the Ferragamo Web site.
Although numerous fashion runway shows have been held on the Louvre’s grounds – Louis Vuitton had its spring/summer 2012 show in the Cour Carrée, and the Carrousel du Louvre and Espace Jardins du Louvre are regular Paris Fashion Week venues – the event was the first of its kind to be staged inside the museum.
To earn this honor, Ferragamo underwrote “Saint Anne, Leonardo da Vinci’s Ultimate Masterpiece,” a show of compositional sketches, cartoons, and preparatory drawings from the last two decades of Leonardo’s life. At the center of the exhibition is “The Virgin and Child With Saint Anne,” a newly restored circa 1510 oil-on-wood painting left unfinished by the Renaissance master when he died in 1519.
Last March, Ferragamo held a lavish gala — which was attended by Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank and French actress Virginie Ledoyen — to open the exhibition.
Will the move bring Giornetti and the family-owned Ferragamo into the forefront and elevate its reputation from an iconic shoemaker to a sought-after luxury clothing label? Will it encourage other fashion brands to buy their way into holding catwalk shows in the Louvre by sponsoring exhibitions?
While staging the first fashion show within the Louvre is indeed a historical occasion and may spark other labels to follow suit, it is doubtful that Giornetti’s unremarkable collection will remain in the fashion world’s memory. But perhaps the whole point for Ferragamo was to show its dedication to the arts.
Giornetti told the International Herald Tribune that “having a runway show inside the Louvre has a meaning that goes beyond the simple concept of fashion.” He added, “It is a statement, a continuation of a long tradition of beauty and sensibility, of passion and a love of art. It’s a very positive message. A way to reaffirm our Italian spirit and our culture.”
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