Maria Sole Ferragamo was born into a family famous for its leather work, but in recent years she has fused her fashion heritage and her studies in architecture to create a personal signature: jewelry made from salvaged material.
Now, she is presenting an eight-piece collection called Trame (Weaves, Plots). Using trucioli, the brass shavings left from the production of buckles, clasps and other leather accessories hardware, she has woven the tendrils by hand into two cuffs, two torque necklaces, two brooches and two pairs of earrings.
All the pieces have been plated in a silvery-white 20-karat gold and some have black-and-white enamel detailing. Prices range from 3,800 euros ($4,150) for a necklace to 5,000 euros for an enameled cuff.
The collection was previewed at the PAD London design fair in October, and it is scheduled to be presented at Design Miami this week.
The jewels nod to a technique developed by Ms. Ferragamo’s grandfather, the shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, who circumvented wartime leather shortages by, for example, creating weaves from chocolate wrappers. “I’m always looking at his patents, because he left us so many ideas and drawings,” Ms. Ferragamo said. “It’s a real bible for me.”
And the two doughnut-size brooches evoke memories of her paternal grandmother, Wanda Ferragamo, who used to select jewels from her vast collection to coordinate with each outfit.
The brooch “is the past, and part of it is the potential it represents,” the designer said. “For me, brooches are the one piece that has room to be more contemporary and playful right now.”
Ms. Ferragamo embraced sustainable luxury when in 2016, fresh out of the master’s program at Central St. Martins in London, she presented a capsule collection of necklaces, earrings and bracelets from scrap leather.
“I wasn’t really thinking of sustainability,” Ms. Ferragamo said during a recent video interview. “Upcycling was just my reaction to a reality. I thought it was such as shame that all this great material coming from a living being, that’s been treated to the top level of quality, would go to waste.”
Among her early supporters was Elisabetta Cipriani, whose namesake gallery in London specializes in jewelry made by artists. “I have always been fascinated by jewelry designers who create strong, sculptural pieces in unconventional materials,” Ms. Cipriani said, and it was she who first suggested that Ms. Ferragamo try working with some kind of recycled metal.
Today, Ms. Ferragamo’s sells her Armadillo earrings in trucioli, sparkly Fiore rings and other creations through her company, So-Le Studio, and specialized retailers including Browns and Koibird in London, Luisaviaroma in Florence, Italy, and Moda Operandi. In December 2022, she opened her first So-Le shop in the luxury Portrait Milano hotel on the Piazza del Quadrilatero in Milan. The property, a former seminary, is part of the Lungarno Collection, which is owned by the Ferragamo family.
Over the years, Ms. Cipriani lobbied Ms. Ferragamo for pieces in more elevated materials, such as gold and gemstones, but Ms. Ferragamo said that never felt quite like a fit.
“Of course you need to make something more precious, but I didn’t want to compromise on my principles, which are that preciousness isn’t in the nature of the materials you start with, it’s basically what you do with it,” Ms. Ferragamo said.