Winning in style


One of the iconic symbols of Margaret Thatcher’s reign as British prime minister in the 1980s was her famous handbag.

From Reagan to Gorbachev, it is claimed the Iron Lady would brandish her handbag at high-level meetings to show she meant business.

Many of ministers allegedly felt her wrath in cabinet meetings when she used the accessory as a weapon. As a result, the term ‘handbagging’ was so widely used in reference to her that it soon entered the Oxford English Dictionary.

The symbol became so well-known that one of her bags, a black Salvatore Ferragamo model, sold for £82,110 ($131,258) at a charity auction in 2000 after a bidding war involving would-be buyers from all over the world.

The connection to the controversial British icon was instrumental in helping to raise the profile of Italian fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo. Giovanna Gentile Ferragamo, the second of the founder’s six children, speaks of the former prime minister with great warmth.

“She is a very good customer of ours and always has been,” Ferragamo says as she sits down for an interview in Dubai. “She is a very dear friend of ours.”

The celebrity endorsement came full circle earlier this year when the fashion house supplied the official handbags for ‘The Iron Lady’ feature film, a biography of Thatcher starring legendary actress Meryl Streep.

To add to the prestige, Streep also wore Ferragamo shoes to the 2012 Oscars, where she picked up the Academy Award for best actress for her portrayal of the political heavyweight.

Giovanna, who also works creating the women’s ready-to-wear division of Salvatore Ferragamo, is vice president of the group’s holding company and serves on the board of directors of Salvatore Ferragamo SpA and other Ferragamo companies, views the celebrity endorsements with a great sense of pride.

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