Top designers reveal the real story behind their best shoes, from the drawing board to the red carpet.
“I would have to say my signature Zenadia is my favorite. I love that it’s so versatile, classic and simple, but it has this detail that makes it immediately distinctive and a little special. It’s also deceptively comfortable, which is an important factor. I love hearing from women that it’s the only single-sole stiletto they can wear all day. The collection that originated this style was all about birds and flight. I call the detail on the vamp of the foot a wing because the movement of wings inspired it. Lupita Nyong’o wore this style at the Golden Globes when she was just breaking onto the scene, with that gorgeous red caped gown. That was such a fashion moment, but it was also very special to me. Brie Larson — another star I’ve been watching closely — she’s also a huge fan of the Zenadia.”
“It was a pleasure to let the Estelle silhouette evolve because there are no accessories on it. It works in its purest form. It stood out originally because I wanted it to have a sort of gothic, fraying romance with the edging of the silhouette. So it almost looks like it’s unraveling. This shoe is all about the negative space — the shapes that are made by the foot when it’s almost within the shoe. If you’re drawing a negative space, it looks like clouds, and the positive space looks like a gothic window in a church. It was the combination of those two things that made for a more interesting story. I knew it was a good shoe from the [beginning] because it looked like nothing else, and it looked great. Everybody from Kate Moss to Naomi Watts has worn them.”
“The Merli design is my strongest memory of creating a shoe, and that became the iconic style of the brand. I created the Merli with a piece of leather and scissors, working on the volumes first. I had a physical connection with the shoe. Merli has been in the collection for five years now. It shows all the DNA of the house: buckles, a chunky heel, masculine-yet-feminine codes and the metallic beauty mark on the right heel.”
“The Clarita is the most successful shoe in my collection, and it’s now available in different heel heights and materials, accommodating all needs and style preferences. The shoe is simple, yet holds character, elegance, modern style and comfortability. Organically, it has become the brand’s signature shoe. I truthfully feel blessed whenever I see my shoes on the red carpet or out on the street. It encompasses the multiple dimensions of a woman and her lifestyle. I felt honored when I saw the Clarita on Gwyneth Paltrow.”
“The shoe I enjoyed designing most is the Quorra, which was my first collaboration with Disney for the release of ‘Tron: Legacy’ a few years back. I am a huge fan of the original movie, and I was excited to do a shoe for the official re-release. I was inspired by the architecture and design of the original 1982 film and the level of contrast and color in key scenes. I named the style after the lead character, played by Olivia Wilde, who has since worn my label countless times. It was a magical experience for me.”
Natalia Barbieri, Bionda Castana:
“New constructions take a long time to develop and be made perfect. The expertise involved is unimaginable. Our Dries architectural heel is emotional, anti-tribe, vintage, discreet, yet screams luxury. It is a single-sole pump in every new sense of the word. The gold hardware on the heel is its main feature, which is something we had never explored as deeply before, but with a new team in Italy, we could. And the juxtaposition of this with the high, vintage-inspired vamp is what makes this most interesting. What would Audrey Hepburn wear in 2016? Dries is the answer.”