Since he showed his first collection of jeweled footwear wanted in New York in 1994, Giuseppe Zanotti has enchanted the worlds of fashion and entertainment with his ingenious, elaborate and tirelessly innovative designs. Mixing innocence and rock & roll, refinement with sex appeal and a love of craft with a futuristic, boundary pushing aesthetic, every Giuseppe Zanotti shoe is a true original, created using time-honored artisanal techniques that ensure the highest level of quality. Though the design of Giuseppe Zanotti, the brand has gone from success to success in the past two decades, expanding globally and incorporating bags, jewelry, men’s shoes and ready-to-wear, its founder’s spirit stays the same – his is a tireless creativity born out of a love of art, music, design, and a dedication to providing women with the most superlative shoes in the world. I sit down with Zanotti to discuss his legacy and whats next for the business.
CT: How did a young man from Italy, in 1994, reach the bright lights of New York City to showcase his first collection?
GZ: From very young age I was always at my happiest when I could draw and I felt a sense of pride and joy when I designed – anything from cars to bikes. I was also always passionate about shoes. I still remember the shoes which my mother wore when I was growing up and I recall being fascinated with their silhouettes and detailing. This is undoubtedly something that led me to my desire to launch my own footwear brand.
CT: 24 years on, what does it feel like to have made such a powerful stamp on the footwear industry?
GZ: Every stage of the past twenty four years has brought its milestones – seeing the brand expanding globally, launching menswear and ready to wear but above all it has been my continued love of shoes – they will always come first since they are not just accessories, they are my universe.
CT: Innovative and iconic is two words to describe your designs, what makes a Zanotti shoe?
GZ: I want to make women empowered, embrace their confidence and feeling of freedom – the excitement you get from putting something on and knowing it perfectly articulates who you are in that moment.
Fashion today is about total self-expression. A woman can slip on a pair of embellished cage heels one night and a pair of streamlined, lightweight sneakers the next day. The beauty of modern luxury is the absence of rules.
CT: In your collections you also cover accessories and ready to wear, why was it important to build on the complete look?
GZ: In expanding our collection with accessories and ready to wear, I wanted to enhance our offering, while being inspired by our clients’ demand, to enable them to experiment with wearing a full Giuseppe Zanotti look. Having a complete expression of our brand is also key to the look we create for our seasonal campaigns.
CT: What are the differences in designing footwear for men and for women? Do you approach them differently?
GZ: Challenges are important to me and have always stimulated my creativity – I loved the challenge of translating my designs into a men’s collection. The artistic vision and passion stays the same – our customers appreciate beautiful and innovative design and the quality of Italian craftsmanship.
CT: With a huge influence from the music industry, talk me through your collaborations with JLo & Zayn Malik?
GZ: I have always loved music and it was music which initially led me to fashion as I was fascinated by the style of artists who were on my LP covers. Music has also always been a key element of my design process, drawing inspiration from the essence of every genre – from the rebellious to the romantic.
Jennifer is one of the most stylish and influential icons of our times. Her style is confident, feminine, sensual, elegant with a unique creative edge. I have always been inspired by Jennifer and love the way she looks in my shoes so there was a natural synergy for us to collaborate together.
Zayn is a true fashion icon. It is who he is, he is always authentic, not afraid to express himself. Just as his music is soulful, his style is natural. His whole approach is contemporary, an easy coolness with the right amount of modern rebel. We enjoyed creating a collection which was bold and masculine and rooted in the idea of not being afraid to express yourself.
CT: You have created exclusive styles for Rita Ora for her recent UK tour – how exciting – how did you work with Ms. Ora on the styles she was wearing?
GZ: For Rita’s headline UK tour I created three very modern styles in white stretch leather, black suede and blush satin to perfectly complement Rita’s vibrant outfits and her unique style. It was an honour to be a part of Rita’s spectaluar return to music and to bring her unrelenting creativity and spirit to the custom-made collection.
CT: I have to ask – what shoes are you wearing today?
GZ: I am wearing the Archibald Cross (pictured, below) from the AW18 collection, crocodile-embossed calf leather loafer. The textured leather and metal detailing create a smart look with a twist for day or evening dressing.
Giuseppe Zanotti, Archibald Cross, £575.00 – click to buy here
CT: How different was business when you first launched to now?
GZ: The fashion industry has been continuously evolving in so many ways. The Internet and social media has undoubtedly been the most significant development – driving speed, creating transparency and more direct dialogue with clients. While I have always thrived on embracing change and innovation, with the latter being very inherent to our brand’s DNA, some things remain constant – continually finding new creative points of you, drawing and designing and the thrill you get from launching a new collection.
CT: What’s next for the Zanotti business?
GZ: We are very excited to be announcing our upcoming exclusive collaboration soon but saying more would spoil the surprise!
CT: What words of advice can you offer to budding footwear or accessories designers in the world today?
GZ: I think that no one can give you better advice than yourself – for me it has always been to follow my passion, to stay true to myself and to love what I do every day.
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