Silverporsche, I notice you are in Missouri, so I will assume that the Neiman Marcus you frequented stocks the same range of Ferragamo shoes that I saw on the NM in Philadelphia/King of Prussia.
The Ferragamos I saw at KOP were all lower/mid range shoes. The order of quality, from lowest to highest, I believe, is:
Ferragamo Studio (cheap, overpriced, “glued”)
Ferragamo Lavatoriale Originale, sp?, (decent quality Blake construction, still overpriced at retail of around $400-$500)
Ferragamo Tramezza (Goodyear welted, retail around $650-$800, quite nice leather; shows up on Ebay once in a while for $200-$280, and that’s a superb deal)
Gucci shoes are always a mystery, not sure exactly what Italian factory they are made, quality doesn’t justify asking price however the brand-name and fashion/style may justify purchase to some.
Ballys used to be very decent about 20 years ago. Their top of line is the Scribe, which is Goodyear welted. The last/shape could be hit or miss, some are very elegant, some not. I would just persist with the Scribe line and avoid the remaining. That said, I do have a non-Scribe pair purchased about 10 years ago (full retail at $450) that’s corrected-grain leather. I’ve Topy the only and it is a nice beater shoe that’s lasted and still going.
Bruno Magli top of line is, I believe, the Platinum. That is all I find out about it. Typical BM you see at dept stores are overpriced.
Santoni’s at most dept stores are a waste of cash. There’s quite just a few ranges of the Santoni’s, the higher/best ones being the FAM (fatte a mano) and the highest of line Limited (very hard to search out within the States, retail for $1500-$2300, very very nice antiquing on the leather). Even the FAM’s are apparently subdivided into just a few ranges. Our forum FAM nut Brian can better explain the main points. Me personally I buy only the Santoni Classic lines which are Goodyear welted (retail for about $700-$900, and may have a “Goodyear” stamped on the only) and a few FAM’s.