Saturday, May 23, 2009

A chat with Giuseppe Zanotti

On Thursday, April 30th the visionary shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti made an in-store appearance at the famous Bergdorf Goodman on 5th Avenue in New York City. He was there in honor of his Spring 2009 collection, and the lucky women (and men) who purchased his shoes were invited to have their soles signed and take a Polaroid picture with the designer which was then topped off with a personalized message and decoration by Giuseppe himself. The compliments and fans surrounding the designer were plentiful and Giuseppe eagerly and happily shook hands and exchanged greetings with each and every person. He was unrelentingly gracious and, while I had been warned that there was a language barrier, his grasp of the English language was impressive and the obstacles for him to express himself were few.

So, what did Giuseppe have to say about his Spring collection? For one, he was inspired by many things, but the line's color palette, unique embellishments and details are "A tribute to Africa…[a celebration of] the arts from Africa, the painters, the music…Africa is our base." He referenced the shades of brown he's used, the silver ornaments and the zebra prints as all being inspired by Africa but with a sense of "the new world" incorporated into them as well.

Giuseppe mentioned that he pulls much of his inspiration for each collection from what he called his library of women's shoes, but in reality sounds more like something I (and I would imagine most women) would refer to as a museum as well as a dream come true. This "library" consists of 7,500 plus pairs and holds styles dating back to the 18th century. The other large influence on Giuseppe's shoes? His passion for music. "I put my culture and records into my shoes - they are the same thing."

For Fall of 2009, Giuseppe described what we can expect through an assortment of descriptive adjectives like "Rock & Roll and gothic; dark but positive! A focus on women's beauty and decadence…crazy, pure illusion! " He referenced the 90's film Interview with a Vampire to emphasize his vision of elegance mixed with a dark but seductive edge.

And for Spring 2010? He's planning to showcase what he described as "colors in the wrong", which he went on to explain as being combinations and mixes of colors that are very untraditional and unexpected. He also claimed it would have "a jump from classic to Pop Art."
So how is the recession treating a designer whose shoes often run in the thousand dollar range? "Women buy the best!" he said cheerily. "The sandals, [they are] still selling well…they represent Summer [and are] something new." One of the reasons he believes his designs are doing well is that his shoes complete the personalized and diversified look that Today's Woman is after. "In the 90's, women [were] slaves of the total look from magazine pages…now women choose for themselves…something from here, something there."

But perhaps even Giuseppe lovers are showing some affinity for practicality during these rough times. It's not those high, sculpted heels that are flying off the shelves…according to Giuseppe "Seventy percent more flats than heels are selling!"

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