Giuseppe Zanotti has been designing sexy heels that straddle that fine line between reality and fantasy since for almost 20 years. His latest fall collection—comprised of no less than 800 shoes—is dedicated to “the woman who uses her looks as a weapon of seduction, not to provoke but to support bold statements.” Zanotti, who will be appearing at Saks Fifth Avenue on Thursday for two events benefitting YoungArts and the Juice Foundation, has some bold statements of his own, which he shared with us before making the trip down to Bal Harbour. Here we talk to the poetic designer about why 50 pairs of shoes aren’t enough, his enduring relationship with Saks and creating the first-ever sexy loafer.
What inspired your Fall collection?
The inspiration? It comes from Helmut Newton’s black & white portraits of women: proud, magnificent and timeless. And from the atmosphere of Paris in the ’80s, from the shop windows on Place des Victoires where Mugler imagined an alien invasion of wonderful creatures, exploring new territory and staking everything on positive freedom.
Your heel-less pumps have become signatures of the brand. Did you anticipate the popularity they have received?
No, this was totally unexpected. It all started from the shape of a 60’s chair, a piece of design. Others have followed this path but have not achieved the same fitting. I’ve worked hard on the fitting of this special shape, also in extreme situations, not just walking, but also jumping, and the product has a good resistance. Its harmonic silhouette designs an imaginary line from the heel to the ankles. It’s a sort of extension of the leg that elegantly lifts the woman.
Why did you name a shoe for Lady Gaga?
Actually we did it for her first (she wanted something special) and then people started calling it the Lady Gaga shoe. You know, news spreads so fast, especially on the web…It became the Lady Gaga shoe but I did not name it so myself.
Do you have a favorite shoe from the Fall collection?
I’ve got too many favorite shoes! Maybe the greatest discovery of the collection is the loafer; I’ve always focused on sexy high heels and this is the first time I’ve managed to create a sexy and still comfortable loafer.
Do you have a particular idea of a woman in mind for each collection?
In each collection you will find many women. There’s not just one shoe for one woman but many shoes for a woman who actually is herself many women. This is my woman: an ever-changing soul, always on the search for something new. Mission impossible.
Are you involved in the brands ad campaigns? If so, what drew you to Anja Rubik?
Yes of course I’m involved in the ad campaign. Nowadays a shoe designer needs to be involved in everything related to the brand. When you design a shoe you automatically think about a woman but also about the music you will play during its presentation, the flowers and also about Anja’s look. She represents a sophisticated and cool woman. She’s so versatile, she changes each time. We’ve also been friends for a long time.
Tell us about your relationship with Saks Fifth Avenue.
I must tell you something about Saks: when I started this job, about 20 years ago, and I first presented my collection in a hotel in NYC, Saks was one of the first who believed in my project and fell in love with my shoes. Believe it or not, I owe so much to Saks. It’s been the ideal window for my product in the US. We have a close relationship; I listen to their requests and they listen to my needs. I wish I had more partners like Saks in the world.
People know that they will always find the right thing at Saks, and this is true not only for shoes. When I visit Saks I don’t go there to buy shoes but to see fashion; there’s always a vast choice, and the buying is always just right. Elegance and luxury, that’s Saks’ DNA. They’re very professional people.
Which looks do you feel are the most "Miami"?
To me Miami equals sandals, forever. I love this city because of its Latin feeling, it’s always summer here and I always feel so good each time I visit the city. Regarding shoes, the ‘Miami’ product is a sexy and appealing sandal: flat, high, wedge, but always open. Miami is sun and color, it’s like my collection.
What can we look forward to in the Spring?
The SS13 collection is innovative, with incredible accessories and with an Ethnic feeling.
What type of shoe does a woman look best in?
Any shoe. Women feel different every day and they need at least 50 pairs of shoes (And still, that’s not enough…)
What type of shoe do you think a woman feels best in?
Every time I make a shoe I spend a lot of time on the fitting. Especially when I deal with high heels, I want them to be stable and the shape may be aggressive but still the fitting must be good. Obviously flats are more comfortable but given the efforts my team and I put into the fitting phase, I hope my shoes are more wearable than others.
As for me, I love women also barefoot…but I’m a shoe designer!