IG Star Donald Robertson and Designer Valentina Carrano on ‘Art Bombing Bergdorfs’ and ‘Everyday Couture’

If you are one of artist Donald Robertson’s 179,000 Instagram followers, you’ve likely noticed the man has a thing
 for shoes — especially heels by breakout designer Valentina Carrano. He’s taken to painting or applying his signature colorful grafter’s tape to her Italian-crafted stilettos. FN commissioned the duo to collaborate on a new piece, revealed here. The Fleur bootie is splashed with an Italian retro bombshell that celebrates their love of curves.
 It will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the BunnyJack Gives Foundation. Here, the two artists interview each other.

Valentina Carrano asks Donald Robertson:

Who is your muse? “Anyone off-center. As a young creative director [for Estee Lauder Group], the first person I ever signed to a big cosmetic campaign was RuPaul. Last week, I just signed Amber Rose for a similar deal. You get the picture. Awesome outsiders.”

Earliest influence? “Very chic grandparents. I’m from Canada. Back when I was young, ‘chic’ was not something you found in our neighborhood hockey rinks.”

What drew you to using my shoes as a canvas? 
“I discovered your shoes when I was art bombing Bergdorf Goodman. They look like female body parts. Very feminine and very fashion. I had to ruin them with paint.”

Who gives you the best advice? “The movie Kung Fu Panda. The panda says: Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why they call it the present.”

How do you handle criticism? “Very badly.”

What do your children think about your work? “My 11-year-old son says it’s humiliating that all the girls in his class wear my T-shirts. Ha.”

What motivates you? “Five kids and homelessness.”

Fashion pet peeve? “I love it all: the good, the bad and the fugly.”

What is your greatest strength and weakness? “I am too dumb for New York and too ugly for L.A. It’s a problem.”

When and where are you most inspired? “At 4 a.m. in my studio.”

What was the last thing that triggered a great idea? “College tuition! Paint paint paint.”

What advice would you give to fledging artists? “Turn off the TV. Go make something.”

Valentina Carrano Donald Robertson
Another look at the Valentina Carrano booties handpainted by Robertson.
CREDIT: Claire Benoist.

Donald Robertson asks Valentina Carrano

Who is your muse? “Women that can pull off a complicated life with elegance and grace.”

Who epitomizes beauty and style? “Claudia Cardinale, Jane Fonda, Jackie O, Bianca Jagger, Lori McGoran, Lauren Hutton, Giovanna Battaglia.”

Early influences? “Milano. I grew up in the business. Fashion was everywhere and very much part of my family’s life.”

What have I taught you about art?
 “You can make art out of nothing. I love when you tag your kids on Instagram with #buythemnothing, and they’re playing with boxes and gaffer tape.”

What do your children think about your work? “Stella and Paloma can walk around in my heels since they were 3.”

Best lesson? “You must not only be a creative in designing product, but in business, too.”

What makes your work unique?
 “I do couture for everyday.”

Greatest strength and weakness? “My perseverance.”

Whose work do you admire most? “Salvatore Ferragamo, his studies of anatomy revolutionized the way we make shoes today. He invented a right and left last — need I say more?”

Surprising fact? “I’m always barefoot and hate shopping.”

When and where are you most inspired? “By the water anytime.”

What advice would you give to fledging designers? “Stick to your soul and leave your footprint.”


Click through the gallery to see more art-inspired footwear.

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