Surrounded by sparkly shoes — his sparkly shoes — Giuseppe Zanotti wears a fantastic black coat. He’s been taking photos in his eponymous brand’s remodeled boutique in ifc for quite a while now, so you’d expect he’s exhausted. But when we sit down to discuss the layouts, Zanotti is as lively and enthusiastic as ever. “Designing a collection of shoes is similar to writing your own story, creating your own picture,” he says. “Obviously, a few collections — such as some tales — are far better than others”
Zanotti emphasises his inventions are conceptualised to celebrate girls. His style famed for blending elegant jewelled particulars with bold shapes which can border on the extreme — would be the logo of that vision. “The objective is to make girls feel sensual and strong, but not vulgar,” he explains. And judging from the number of girls who’ve been picking to put on his”statement sneakers” for more than 20 decades, he certainly knows how to do just that.
The new designs are glamorous depictions of all Zanotti’s unique creative process and his personal narrative.
Creativity, nevertheless, often blossoms from limitations. For Zanotti, this occurred in the shape of music. “You do not pick music; it’s music which selects you,” he says, remembering his early days as a DJ in the 1980s. Inspired by the irreverence and vitality of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, as well as Janis Joplin, Zanotti channelled his necessity to escape — and discovered other”aliens” like him. Together, they performed music on local radio channels as a way of feeling culturally integrated.
“At the end, music didn’t work out as a profession, but it opened up a universe for me the area of art and imagination,” he recalls. “Conceptualising items is an artwork. From there, Zanotti began seeking his aesthetic ideal. His mission was to turn seemingly”ugly” items — eyeglasses, sinks, furniture as well as toilets — into creations which reflected his design.
And then came the shoes. Zanotti explains he”was by the notion of designing shoes, by the struggle of creating something unique out of such a small object.” From the very beginning, he knew what he wanted his shoes to look like: different and contemporary — almost futuristic — but representative of the very sophisticated techniques of luxurious Italian shoemaking.
He was employed as a freelance designer for almost 12 years before finally starting the very first Giuseppe Zanotti collection; the now-iconic styles were presented in nyc in 1994. Soon after the introduction, Zanotti’s bejewelled stilettos and sky-high boots were chosen by numerous worldwide celebrities to uplift their outfits and went on to grace pretty much every international red rug. In particular, he loves the artisanal attention to detail that remains unique to the country and his native region of Emilia-Romagna, where his shoes are still designed and produced. As we continue our conversation about his creations, he informs me that it is still a major inspiration — he thinks of his collections like playlists. “Women’s fashion and men’s style used to be somewhat different from each other, and restricted to different categories. Now it is much better; even fashion has become unisex.”
The designer is thrilled to see that the fashion industry changing so rapidly and profoundly. The fact that customers are much more in control of their choices by having the ability to mix and match luxury and high-street brands gives him the constant stimulation to create new layouts which could interest an ever-expanding audience. In 2012, Zanotti delighted his male fans by launch Giuseppe Zanotti Homme, which again articulated a new style and stood out with its distinctive approach to masculinity. The elevator sneakers, made famous by names such as Kanye West, became a symbol of the new luxury.
While Zanotti does not know what the future holds, he wants to be”open and multitasking to any sort of change” For the time being, he will continue to design one collection after the other, channelling the fire that, over two decades after starting his career, continues to drive and define him. Zanotti holds up a glittery stiletto to shoot one final picture. “I really like the shoes that I create but after I’m done designing a collection, I must forget them,” he confesses. “I get a kind of stomach ache and I really feel as altering the scenario, such as starting something fresh. My connection with shoes is bizarre.”