Heart and Sole
Gianvito Rossi stepped into his famous father's shoes, creating a name for himself and his seductive Milanese footwear.
By Britt Burritt
On the streets of Italy's fashion capital, stilettos are still the shoe of choice. Women expertly negotiate commutes in heels, and if they're wise, they're wearing styles by Milan's own Gianvito Rossi. Rossi learned from the very best, his father, shoe designer Sergio Rossi. His careful construction results in classically innovative designs that feature prominently on red carpet stars and are remarkably comfortable. "My shoes are meant to highlight the woman and make her feel like her most confident and elegant self," Rossi tells us. "This is the highest honor I can aim for."
We spoke with Rossi about his beautiful shoes and where he goes in Milan to dine, to relax and to see art.
Your father is also a shoe designer. When did you get interested in carrying on the family tradition?
After years of working for my father, Sergio Rossi, and when his company was sold, I took a short break to think about what direction I would take my life. I returned to shoes rather quickly. I wanted to express my own aesthetic, regardless of trends or market needs.
What did you learn from him?
Everything I know about shoes I learned from my father. I consider him the best teacher. He still comes to the factory and helps, especially on the technical side, on the quality and the fit. He has such incredible experience.
What are the key features of a Gianvito Rossi shoe?
I care a lot about quality, both in the way the shoe is built and in design. I think it's very important when it comes to a luxury accessory; the shoe must be a pleasure to view, touch and wear.
What makes your heels and stilettos so comfortable?
When designing, it's important to think about the way a woman feels when she wears the shoes. We put a lot of attention on fixing any fit issues from the very start. It's a long process for every new style, and we keep trying until we find the best solution in terms of proportion and shape to get the right combination of design and functionality. This is part of the quality.
Tell us about your vibrant designs this spring.
This season, I was deeply inspired by the summer holidays spent by the Italian and Greek seaside. You'll see bright colors and a variety of styles perfect for both vacation and a woman's day to day.
Where are your shoes constructed?
My factory is in Italy, in San Mauro Pascoli. I feel that you need to stay close to the product and verify every single step of the process. With shoes, you must think about what you are doing in a physical way.
You're based in Milan. For someone visiting, where should they …
Nothing makes me happier than a fine fish or a nice plate of pasta with vongole. Although not at the seaside, Milan has fantastic seafood restaurants to dine at. Langosteria is a favorite.
Have an aperitivo?
I recently discovered Senato Hotel Milano, a new boutique hotel, which is located close to Via della Spiga and Via Montenapoleone. The Caffè Senato & Franciacorta Bar is bright and overlooks a beautiful garden. The place is ideal for an aperitivo. It's also, for a bit, the best-kept secret in Milan.
The GAM, or Galleria d'Arte Moderna, is a museum of art of the 19th century and a true palace. It's found within the Villa Reale, also known as the Villa Belgiojoso Bonaparte, erected in 1790 by the architect Leopoldo Pollack. The structure alone is truly a sight to behold.
The Spa at the Four Seasons is superb. It was designed by Patricia Urquiola, with whom I have been working for several years designing my stores. The atmosphere is serene and peaceful.