These Couture Heels by Diego Dolcini Are Made From Baccarat Crystal

To mark his 25 years in the business, shoe designer, Diego Dolcini has created 15 limited edition shoes with luxury glass maker Baccarat. Dubbed Crystal Couture, they will be unveiled tonight during a party at the house’s glamorous ballroom on the first day of Paris Couture Week. Yesterday the designer gave FN an exclusive sneak preview of the collection at Baccarat HQ and explained how it came into being.

While there was always going to be Baccarat crystal involved in his quarter century celebrations it was originally just going to involve the quaffing of champagne from Baccarat flutes as opposed to actual shoes.

Diego Dolcini
Dolicini sketch.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Diego Dolcini

Dolcini met Baccarat CEO Daniela Riccardi around a year ago. He’d been thinking of throwing a party and she suggested using Baccarat’s Sal de Bal on Place des États-Unis as the location. “But then she set me a challenge,” he said, “to make shoes using her house’s crystal. “I took my inspiration from the stems of the glasses,” he continued of the three different heel shapes variously modelled on the torsade of the house Zenith chandelier, the pampille crystal ball and a geometric glass stem. All are executed in signature Baccarat shades such as ruby, amber and amethyst.

But you don’t just slap a crystal heel on a shoe and hope for the best. So while the process didn’t quite rival the metier of Gustave Eiffel, it was still a serious feat of engineering that took some six months to realise. The torsade involves a steel pin being encased in crystal, custom made a the Baccarat factory. “It wasn’t easy,” he revealed. ” You need to find the right balance and the right angles so all the pressure is on the steel not the crystal.” Amazingly, only one got broken. Crystal is actually stronger than one might suppose. “The fragility only happens,” he said, “when you have a very square right angle. There needs to be a slight curve.”

diego dolcini sketch
Dolcini sketch.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Diego Dolcini

Although the crystal heels are couture pieces, made available in only a very limited run, Dolcini told us he was planning on creating more affordable Plexi versions. He will display the shoes as an installation based on an imaginary dinner party guested by iconic French ladies such as Brigitte Bardot, Lou Doillon and Catherine Deneuve with a shoe representing each place.

In addition to this limited edition collection, Baccarat is also displaying Dolcini’s greatest hits from throughout his career – not least shoes he created for Madonna, Beyonce and Rihanna. These include over the knee boots with a platform resembling a panther worn by Madonna on a 2013 cover of Harper’s Bazaar, plus the shoes she wore for her famous Superbowl performance of 2012.

Aside from his own eponymous label, Dolcini’s resume also takes in Gucci, under Tom Ford, Pucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Vionnet and Casadei. He has been head shoe designer at Balmain since 2016 which means he is also the man responsible for the Balmain spring ’19 collection footwear shown last week on Olivier Rousteing’s runway.

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