Gianvito Rossi In His Own Words

It’s only taken some five years and a few pivotal seasons for Gianvito Rossi to ascend from cult choice to popular footwear favorite. While peers have concerned themselves with out-splashing each other, Rossi stands out for maintaining the route set out by his prolific father, Sergio. Subtle touches, a trend-proof aesthetic and newly refined silhouettes separate his work. In the lead-up to Rossi’s Designer of the Year award at QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale,” Footwear News sat down with him in Milan to find out more about the man of the moment.

His creative process:
“It’s open and transparent waters, which can be hard. People appreciate when you make the effort and take one more step forward. But you don’t always know [whether it will work]. Every season, I try to open another door.”

On keeping high standards:
“I’m very concerned with delivering the highest quality, even with bigger [production] numbers as I grow globally. It’s not so easy. Growth and quality don’t always coincide.”

Why he enjoys shoe spotting:

“To see your little creature out there living in the world is always magic. The pump with a tight pencil skirt is one of my favorite things on a woman.”

On flashy footwear:
“My point of view is a little different. I like simple and pure styles on men, and I like to see more fantasy and intriguing shapes on a woman.”

His own shoe choices:

“I wear black [classics] or white sneakers. From whom? Well, I cannot disclose.”

Advice for future footwear designers:
“The shoe is not an object by itself. It’s not a piece of furniture. The mission is to make women look better. Shoes are an accessory that help to achieve beauty. What you design must have a purpose. Otherwise, be an artist, but don’t make shoes. Paint and sculpt, if you like, but this is a different direction.”

On winning FFANY’s Designer of the Year award:

“When I heard, I was surprised, honored and very emotional. It’s a piece of my history because my mother used to come to New York to show the collection when I was young, and it was the beginning of FFANY. It reminds me of her. It’s something that touches me a lot. Of course, I was so happy to tell my parents about the award. The shoe markets and fairs are part of my childhood. Growing up, I would always go with my parents. It’s where I got deeply in touch with the shoe world. It’s a significant recognition because it’s from the people who really know. It’s not just the image, fashion and PR world. It’s about [being] appreciated by people in my industry.”

On his daughter and son joining the family business:

“[My daughter] is 17 and my son is 20. Already, yesterday, she was at my presentation in very high heels. I was terrified. For a girl, this world is very appealing, you can imagine. They are both interested in the industry. I would love if they would come work for me, eventually, but it’s totally and completely up to them. They get to choose.”

Who he gives thanks to:
“Can you please mention that everything I know about shoes I learned from my father? I consider him the best teacher. He still comes to the factory and helps, especially on the technical side, on the quality and the fit. He has such incredible experience.”

His father’s design legacy:

“The balance between fit and shape of the last. He’s the master of this technique. I try to [reach his level], but I’m not a good scholar.” (Laughs.)

Next steps:
“It’s a very positive moment. We’re growing, especially in the States, where we plan to open a few stores. Around March [2015], we will start with our first location in New York on Madison Avenue. That’s our next big step.”

On a possible foray into men’s:

“We just started for the fall ’14 season making sneakers for men. We’ll see what happens in the future. I’m very focused on the women’s part of our business right now. It requires all of my attention.”

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