From Florence train station to the town of Osmannoro in Italy it is only a twenty minute drive. The industrial area which is part of the municipality of Sesto Fiorentino is a huge expanse of identical buildings. Large gray concrete blocks difficult to discern by the rain which falls in abundance on this Wednesday in October. It is there, near Ikea and the airport, as I indicate to the taxi driver, that Ferragamo has established its logistics platform which is the nerve center from where the brand ships its products, but also part of of the legacy left by Salvatore Ferragamo himself and locked today in the archives. “When I had my interview, I had not yet visited this impressive place,” Maximilian Davis, artistic director of Ferragamo, told me shortly after our meeting.
Dressed all in black, with the exception of a white t-shirt, the Briton arrives in this space with a big smile. Despite the gray sky, his mood does not seem affected. After removing his big leather jacket, Maximilian – Max as everyone calls him here – sits down on the makeup chair. “I already did his makeup once, he has beautiful skin. It won’t take long,” the makeup artist reassures me, while Maximilian Davis asks the team about the status of finding a venue for the next Ferragamo show during Milan Fashion Week.
Reviewing Mr. Davis’ career at the helm of the brand in the days leading up to our meeting, I was surprised at how little time had passed since his appointment in March 2022. Of course, the frenetic pace that led to the creation of five collections in just over a year and a half partly explains my surprise, but the designer’s ability to appropriate the codes of the Florentine house in such a short time also constitutes the other reason for my astonishment.
Before landing in the shadow of the Spini-Feroni palace, Maximilian Davis had a career that could be described as “predestined”: first a job at the style office of Wales Bonner, then a stint at Dover Street Market and finally the birth of his own brand, Maximilian. Due to the pandemic, the designer had the rare privilege of being able to take the time to think about his creations, until the fateful call from a number with the Florentine prefix. “I don’t think they rewarded my experience but rather the work I was doing with my brand,” says Mr. Davis when I asked him what the Ferragamo family and Marco Gobbetti, Ferragamo’s CEO since January 2022, had seen in him.
“I was experimenting a lot with elegance and sensuality, but above all, the founding basis of my brand Maximilian was the heritage of my grandmother and my family. A combination of something mature and something younger. I think they appreciated this balance between elegance and sensuality. They were looking for something similar, particularly to bring the brand closer to a new audience.” After its first show in September 2022 in the heart of the former archbishop’s seminary in the center of Milan, the public present truly had the impression of witnessing something important. Of course, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, especially when we’re witnessing the ambitious relaunch of a historic Italian brand that’s too often sidelined.