I was really interested in the article below that I found this yesterday afternoon, which gives you a great insight to an old fashioned Italian women’s shoe maker. I thought I would share it because he is currently making headlines for his craftsmanship. Enjoy the read!
The Italian who made simple shoes chic again
For a man who constructed his reputation around the perfectly engineered stiletto – mathematically balanced, refined proportions, neither too high nor too pointy – Gianvito Rossi is sanguine about the encroaching hegemony of the trainer, even though he holds it responsible for the ever-widening female foot.
“Trainers are part of modern life – and they’re better than destroying your feet with badly fitting high heels,” is his verdict.
The son of Sergio Rossi, one of the pre-eminent Italian shoe names from 1966 onwards, Gianvito is well placed to observe women’s feet for his range of womens shoes His mother wore heels as an article of faith. The family home was above the factory, and young Gianvito grew up with the sweet, damp tang of leather in his nostrils.
Despite trying to divert himself with a degree in sociology and political science, he gravitated back to the family business. After Sergio sold the company to Gucci Group in 2000, there were a few years when father and son no longer worked with shoes.
But Gianvito missed footwear so much he found shoes encroaching on his dreams. There was nothing for it but to launch his own brand. A decade in, he sells in more than 250 stores around the world, turns over €61 million ($88 million) a year and has been responsible for three of the most copied styles like womens sandals in recent times: the Portofino sandal, a deceptively dainty looking strappy stiletto; the velvet ankle boot; and the leather-tipped PVC stiletto court shoe, which has been a perennial bestseller since its launch five years ago.
Stepping from leather
He loves that stiletto; it’s a man’s ideal of a woman’s shoe, he says. But he’s also grown very partial to working with velvet. “I think in future all shoe designers may move away from leather a bit,” he says.
Gianvito feels strongly about the wellbeing of feet. Hence his own (luxurious) trainer collection. And hence his relaxed acceptance of sneaker culture. It is hard, he says, to make a wide shoe elegant, but it’s not impossible.
“There are a lot of women 50 and under who have destroyed feet,” he shakes his head ruefully. “These are women who started wearing heels from about 1995 when the industry changed. In the past, designer womens boots and shoes were made by shoe experts with high-quality rules and standards and enormous attention were paid to the fit.”
Sergio and Gianvito Rossi, for instance, had their own factory in San Mauro Pascoli and produced the shoes for Gianni Versace and Dolce e Gabbana, inter alia. From the late ’90s, as brands pushed for expansion, they took shoe production in-house.
“If you wear badly fitting shoes when you’re young, it’s terrible for the feet,” he continues. “So there are women in their 70s who have beautiful feet. It’s the younger generations that have suffered. I see it all the time. They can’t really wear heels anymore, but their mothers and grandmothers are fine.”
Rossi is a stickler for quality, even though his shoes sell for the same – or sometimes less – than equally elevated brands. Producing still from his own factory, he would rather concentrate on impeccable craftsmanship than bling. Far from making his shoes recede into the background, this attention to form makes them stand out for their elegance and defined silhouettes.
“It’s really not that hard to design a crazy shoe,” he posits. “You just keep adding more and more detail. But at some point you have to ask, ‘Is that elegant or modern?’ ”
Even when womens and mens dress shoes reached heights of ostentation a couple of years ago, Rossi’s were notable for a sense of luxurious restraint that made them seem both contemporary and timeless.
His velvet ankle boot, introduced two years ago and available in 65-millimetre or 85-millimetre heels, is a case in point. It repeatedly sells out.
“Higher is not necessarily better,” he says. “And I speak as someone who designs from a man’s point of view. But if a woman wears a heel that’s too high for her, it distorts her silhouette. The key is balance, and not to be tied to only one style, as women of my mother’s generation were.
“Now you wear sneakers one day, stilettos the next. The main thing is that the woman is wearing the shoe, not the other way round.”