Reading Time: 2 minutes

Italy in Hollywood

In 2018 a new exhibition at the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum will celebrate the years from 1915 to 1927, which Salvatore Ferragamo spent in the United States, especially in Santa Barbara, California. While working with famous directors of the time such as David Wark Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille, he opened the Hollywood Boot Shop, soon frequented by stars of the likes of Mary Pickford, Pola Negri, Charlie Chaplin, Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish and Rudolph Valentino.

Inspired by Salvatore Ferragamo’s autobiography, the exhibition investigates the migratory phenomenon and the influence exerted by Italian myths and culture in California. A large section is dedicated to the Californian film productions in which Italian style is prominent. The exhibition focuses on the world of art, craftsmanship and entertainment, areas of interest favoured by Ferragamo’s creative mind. In those years, Italian silent cinema was the making of stars such as Lido Manetti, Tina Modotti, Frank Puglia and Lina Cavalieri, with 40 of the 300 portraits made of her on ceramic plates by Piero Fornasetti on display. Other young Italians like Rudolph Valentino came to the fore thanks to their personal charm, starting the worship for actors that is commonplace today.
Through photographs, film clips, objects, clothes and artistic representations, the exhibition illustrates the relationship and role played by Italians and Italian art in making silent films, and also looks at the topic with a contemporary eye. An integral part of the exhibit is the Two Young Italians in Hollywood project, curated by Lo Schermo dell’Arte Film Festival, which involves two young Italian artists working in Los Angeles. The hall is dedicated to Salvatore Ferragamo, where the shop opened by him in Hollywood in 1923 will be faithfully reconstructed. The installation will be accompanied by a video reproducing real elements of life in Hollywood in the 20s. Hollywood was then little more than a village. The film studios were few, small and scarce. When in 1927 Ferragamo left the United States, everything had changed.