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Maximilian Davis Is Redefining Hollywood Glamour

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Marilyn Monroe’s iconic red Swarovski crystal pumps. Audrey Hepburn’s suede ballet flats. Joan Crawford’s Foxtrot shoes. These were the makings of a Ferragamo woman during the Golden Age of Hollywood, a time when Salvatore Ferragamo was known as the “shoemaker of dreams.” Today, Maximilian Davis, the brand’s creative director since 2022, is paying homage to that glamorous era, while also making things uniquely his own—complete with a new firmament of young Hollywood stars.

“It’s not about introducing anything, but reenergizing what is already there,” Davis says. The 29-year-old is warm and personable, calling from a minimal white office, the only pop of color a tall green plant in the corner.

Growing up in Manchester in a Trinidadian-Jamaican family, he loved watching American films. And he particularly enjoyed seeing what stars wore on the red carpet. “It was a moment when you could see luxury designers come together and present their best look of the season,” he says, beaming at the memory. “They could use the talent to represent what the brand stood for. When I was growing up, fashion was a lot more free, risky, and daring.”

The women I work with have a point of view, and they have something to say.”

His love of fashion was nurtured by his grandmother, who was the first person to teach Davis how to sew when he was six years old. His penchant for making women feel great in his designs also goes back to his family: His mother was a model, and he calls his two sisters his “style icons.”

“I’ve always been surrounded by women,” he says. “That is what really inspired me to understand what women want and how they want to dress. I just find that I have that connection, or I like to believe so anyway.” As a teenager, he worked as an apprentice for a tailor and went on to attend the London College of Fashion. After graduating in 2017, he became a junior designer for Wales Bonner before founding his brand, Maximilian, in 2020.

Beginning with his first Ferragamo collection, Davis pored over the archives for inspiration. “I was looking at Marilyn Monroe’s bright red pump that was covered in red crystals,” he remembers. “Obviously, this is a shoe that’s so iconic, but I felt that a younger generation didn’t know [about it].” His goal for that collection, and those that followed, became clear—to bridge the gap between the past and present. For example, for his fall 2023 show inspired by 1950s stars, titled “Cinema,” Davis incorporated the classic Ferragamo red, but gave it “a bit more passion and energy,” resulting in a brighter, more vibrant and modern hue that made its way onto strappy heels and exaggerated accessories. One of the looks, a lamé dress (which was worn in silver by Beyoncé on her Renaissance World Tour), is his personal favorite. “To this day,” he says, “I look at that dress and think about adding one to my archive.” His most recent collection, for fall 2024, paid homage to the Roaring Twenties, with striking looks that seemed like they were made for the red carpet—sheer fabric, sequins, and, of course, more of that red.

Filippo Fortis

Ferragamo fall 2024.

Davis has shown a knack for not just recreating, but reimagining, archival styles. “Salvatore had a client who requested an 18-karat gold pair of shoes,” he says. “They were simple and minimal, with a gold chain, and the heel had this ornate floral pattern.” He toyed with the concept in his first prefall collection and created the Eva pump. “It’s your classic pointed pump, but then the heel has a kick. I thought, ‘Why don’t we use the kick heel as one of our signifiers for all of our shoes, and add this onto the 18-karat gold shoe?’” He did the same with the classic cage heel (also known as the Calypso) for spring 2024. Again, he asked himself, “How can I make this feel modern?” To achieve that, the house utilized a 3D printer for the first time to conceptualize a new design.

In addition to continuing Ferragamo’s legacy through shoemaking, Davis is also establishing a roster of Hollywood muses, much like Salvatore did over 100 years ago. Ayo Edebiri, Yara Shahidi, Michaela Coel, and Zendaya are just a few of the actresses whom he’s dressed so far. One of his strongest professional relationships is with Coel. They first started working together during his Maximilian days, after he watched and admired her Emmy-winning show I May Destroy You. “The women I work with have a point of view, and they have something to say,” he says. The show “had a huge impact on people, because it was talking about abuse against women and having the ability to speak out.” Once he assumed his post at Ferragamo, the pair reunited for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premiere, where Coel wore a chocolate-brown crystal hooded gown with mesh gloves.

Davis’s Hollywood roster is rapidly growing, but his muses have one thing in common. “They all stand for something and have a massive impact on today’s community, industry, and the younger generation. I like the idea that everything I do, and everything they do, leaves an imprint on the world.”


This article appears in the June/July 2024 issue of ELLE.

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