Meet the Youngest Designer to Win FN’s Emerging Talent Award

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, Footwear News will host its 2016 Achievement Awards in New York, honoring the best and brightest in the industry, including Emerging Talent winner Nicolò Giannico Beretta. Read on to learn more about his accomplishments.

Nicolò Giannico Beretta has a way with witty shoes. After launching his Giannico label in 2013 as more of an artistic than entrepreneurial endeavor, the Italian designer saw his sweetly subversive whims — such as “Valley of the Dolls” pills as embellishments or large Jeff€ Koons orbs decorating the backs of pumps — attract significant attention.

Part artful objet and part outré accessory, his work quickly caught the eye of a number of fashion heavyweights, including Vogue Italia’s Franca Sozzani, who alongside Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri awarded him the Who’s on Next prize last year. Since then, he’s spoken at FN’s CEO Summit in Miami and was featured on this magazine’s cover in June. “I’ve been extremely lucky for moments like Lady Gaga wearing my early designs, working with influencers like Chiara Ferragni, and a number of important people in the industry believing in me,” Beretta told FN over the phone from his Milan studio.

Giannico's suede pump with bubble-gum sphere detail.
Giannico’s suede pump with bubblegum sphere detail.
CREDIT: Bridges Aderhold

Those believers include Sabrina Bonini and her daughter Giorgia of the Massimo Bonini showroom. They discovered Beretta at the Vogue Talents competition in 2014. “Many designers were showcasing their collections, but we were immediately impressed by the unique and bold creations of Giannico,” Sabrina said. “I loved his extraordinary twist on classic silhouettes,” added Giorgia, citing the Oh My Deer slipper, a natty loafer with a gilded stag head. Other novel treatments included kiss and makeup patterns and Mary Janes with scented plastic straps. (“The idea came from the perfumed toys I had as a child,” said Beretta.)

giannico pumps
Giannico, $170.
CREDIT: The Corner.

Like many others, the Boninis were shocked to discover that the person behind such clever designs was then only 17 years old. In the years since, despite no formal fashion education, Beretta (who turned 21 this month) has taught himself how to sketch beautifully and learn shoemaking from his Italian factory, a craft he continues to hone.


He’s also taken on a business partner, Antonio Insalata, while Beretta’s mother, Daniela, handles company finances. “She has been incredibly supportive by both investing in Giannico and providing constant motivation,” said the designer.

Giannico Leather Mules With Flowers
Giannico leather mule with striping and floral embellishment.<br />Nail Art: Yukie Miyakawa.
CREDIT: Brian Klutch.

Those labors are clearly paying off. The label is carried at top retailers including Moscow’s Tsum, Hong Kong’s Harvey Nichols and Milan’s prestigious La Rinascente department store, which delights Beretta. “It’s a special place I’ve visited since I was little,” he said. Federica Montelli, La Rinascente’s footwear buying manager, was undeterred by Beretta’s age or lack of experience. “I find it a great advantage. He still has time to develop, but his aesthetics are already defined at such an early stage — a crucial aspect to succeed in footwear,” she said.

Giannico Shoe of the Week
Giannico’s kitschy Sofia sandal for spring ’17.
CREDIT: Joshua Scott

And while many newer brands experiment with the outlandish purely for Instagram’s sake, Beretta’s designs stand on the right side of unconventional, she added. “I believe this comes from him being so young and with a €different approach to product creation,” said Montelli.

Designer shoe sketches
“An ethereal summer — the glamour of pool parties, Palm Beach and Slim Aarons pictures,” Giannico’s Nicolo Beretta.
CREDIT: Nicolo Beretta

Indeed, one of Beretta’s greatest assets is his unabashed excitement and lack of fashion froideur. “Even as I grow up, I want to keep this youthful spirit and joy for what I do,” he said. “I’m a positive person, and I never want to lose that.”

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