On Nov. 4, 1966, torrential rains and winds up to 90 miles per hours battered much of Italy, particularly Florence "The City of Flowers", situated in the valley of the Arno. 
Schenectady Gazette, NY [February 18, 1967]

November 1966 | La Nazione (Florentine daily) frontpage
Source: Piana Notizie

The flood of the Arno river killed 101 people and left the city in ruins. Damaged buildings, masterpieces (from monuments to books) destroyed and lost forever, artisanal shops to be rebuilt from the ground up. Still remembered today when a flood occur.

November 4, 1966 | Florence Lungarno
The Arno river on both sides

Stanley Marcus, president of Neiman-Marcus and Dallas chairman of the American Committee of Italian Flood Relief, has designated a 1967 award to these spirited artisans "whose craftsmanship and design abilities in the fields of leather-making, ceramics, embroidery,knitting and dressmaking are famed as standards of quality throughout the world and whose numbers are so great that it is impossible to single out only one recipient." 
Schenectady Gazette, NY [February 18, 1967]

Extreme circumstances led to an unprecedented decision: all the awarded designers were from a single Country, Italy; the first time in a 29-year history of the annual award. So Marcus' designation was both gracious and clever. Also rarely recalled.

February 1967 | Dallas | From left to right:

Lydia of Rome, Giancarlo Venturini, Valentino

Fiamma Ferragamo, Emilio Pucci, Stanley Marcus

Accepting the accolade on their behalf was Emilio Pucci, former winner, who flew to Dallas for the annual spring awards luncheon and fashion presentation. The event, to benefit the American Committee for Italian Flood Relief, was held in the grand ballroom of the Sheraton-Dallas hotel…
Also receiving awards were Fiamma Ferragamo, talented daughter of the "Shoemaker of Dreams," the late Salvatore Ferragamo; Lydia de Roma creator of Italy's hand-embroidered playclothes; Valentino of Rome, brilliant young couturier whose creations grace some of the world's most prominent women, and Giancarlo Venturini, designer who revolutionized the concept of knitted sportswear. 
Schenectady Gazette, NY [February 18, 1967]

1967 | Fiamma Ferragamo
Appearing at Dallas' Neiman-Marcus (Shoe Salon, 2nd floor)
Source: Archivi della Moda del Novecento

It can be read on the ad, right below the photo: Fiamma Ferragamo in person at the N-M Shoe Salon was To Benefit The American Committee for Italian Flood Relief. On the left, drawings of three models taken from the winning collection, two of them also shown below.

1967 | The model Kalioscia
Suede & silk
Source: Archivi della Moda del Novecento

1967 | Sketch of the model Kalioscia
Source: Archivi della Moda del Novecento

1967 | The model Folletta
Fuchsia calfskin and yellow buckskin
Source: Archivi della Moda del Novecento

1967 | Sketch of the model Folletta
Source: Archivi della Moda del Novecento

Well, two out of three models found, not too shabby. So everything is fine and dandy except for one small G L I T C H. The most famous shoe from the Neiman-Marcus winning collection - the model Pleja - IS NOT FROM the Neiman-Marcus collection, not even the same year.

1968 | Ferragamo | The model Pleja
Heel & arch assembly called Cassida
Source: ferragamo.com

The Pleja belongs to a sculptured heels-centric collection of the following year especially designed for Saks Fifth Avenue, NY, however, countless books and web sites (including ferragamo.com) think otherwise. Let's see why they are mistaken.

1967 | 1968 | The model Pleja with the Cassida heel
From: ferragamo.com

The heel & arch assembly of the Pleja is called CASSIDA and it was patented in Italy (July 1968, 17 months after the N-M award), France (January 1969) and U.S.A. (March 1970, filed December 1968). The American patent helps to identify the Florentine sculptor Ivo Barbaresi as the author.

UPDATE October 28, 2015

The Salvatore Ferragamo S.P.A has been informed about our findings and the website amended the page now featuring the model Kalioscia as the winner of the Neiman Marcus award.

Filed December 27, 1968 - Granted March 3, 1970
IVO BARBARESI | Heel For Lady's Shoe
Source: RPX Rational Patents

January 1969 | The Cassida heel & arch assembly
Wooden prototype
Source: INPI (Institute National de la Propriété Industrielle - France)

Also, to back it up with all the available info, the article "Sculptures To Walk On - Or Dance In" from the New York Times (October 10, 1968) helps seal the deal: the model Pleja is the one at the bottom, a bit grained but still ...

New York Times | October 10, 1968
Source: New York Times




1966 | Fiamma Ferragamo holding the model Ilva
Source: Archivi della Moda del Novecento


… which is not really a footnote. According to the online database Archivi della Moda del Novecento (20th Century Fashion Archive, Italian only) the Neiman Marcus models were drawn by Ferragamo in-house designer Carla Michelassi. If so, Carla designed the collection the first year on the job and continued to do so for the following twenty (20). She later moved to other tasks within the company (head of the creative dept./product manager) until her retirement in 2003. She spent the last leg of the Ferragamo experience as a consultant (2004-2005) before opening her own consulting studio.

We know this from her Linkedin page as there are no other information about her on the web, beside her obituary: Carla Michelassi passed away September 3, 2015. We would have liked to know more about her and her job; as for now, even if we're late, we send our sympathy to her family.