Samuele Failli launched his eponymous footwear label on the advice of one Azzedine Alaïa. “He told me to do it,” said the Florentine designer with a grin. “So I thought, ‘Fine, if he says so, then I should go ahead.’”
Fall ’17 marks Failli’s debut collection, a sculptural series of hero styles that retail for $500 to $1,000. Highlights include the Diane, a caged sandal in metallic, laser-cut patent with hand-colored edges; the Bowie sandal with Perspex details that give a trompe l’oeil effect; and the towering Kelly sandal with suede curlicues. “Women always want to look sexy,” said Failli, describing his aesthetic as “timeless pieces — simple, sexy and easy to understand.”
Failli was born in Florence and still lives just outside of the city, very close to his factory, which also makes shoes for Prada and Valentino. His mother worked as a seamstress. “I used to steal her issues of Vogue,” he said. “She says that the DNA doesn’t lie and I got my talent from her.”
After studying footwear design at London College of Fashion, Failli interned at Prada and spent seven years there, becoming the brand’s senior shoe designer. Following that were stints at Tom Ford, with Stefano Pilati and with Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent before the call came from Alaïa in 2012.
Failli stayed in the master’s maison until last year and is now happy to be working independently. “I was tired of making shoes to support the looks in a show,” he said. “I wanted to make shoes that look great on their own.”
The designer has already inked a two-year U.S. exclusive with Barneys New York. In the U.K., Failli’s label will be stocked exclusively at Harvey Nichols and online with Matchesfashion.com. Matches buying director Natalie Kingham said, “[His pieces are] very elegant but sexy at the same time. They have good price points, good DNA and are well-made.”
For resort ’18, Failli has crafted a more evening collection. And the spring ’18 line, which will debut in Milan in September, promises a zingy palette with pops of color.