Giuseppe Zanotti is the designer behind some of the world’s most renowned and coveted footwear. He talks to SHOP about his inspirations, Italian craftsmanship and the perfect pair of shoes.
‘A great pair of shoes should create an emotion – whether it is confidence, excitement, seductiveness, unpredictability – and above all a strong feeling of individuality’ says Giuseppe Zanotti. He should know. For decades Zanotti has been one of the leading names in Italian footwear. From the architectural heels that made his name to the luxury sneakers that have won him new acclaim, Giuseppe Zanotti is up there with the most respected shoemakers in the world.
Born in 1957 in the small town of San Mauro Pascoli outside Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast, Zanotti grew up obsessed with art, design and music. ‘It was music and my early career as a DJ which initially led me to fashion,’ say Zanotti. ‘I was drawn to the style of the artists on my LP covers. I loved fashion because I loved music. And music has always been a big part of my life and my design process, drawing inspiration from the essence of every genre, from the rebellious to the romantic.’
Today, music and musicians still play a huge part in Zanotti’s brand. Some of his most famous fans are renowned stars in the worlds of pop and rap music; Giuseppe Zanotti shoes have become a mainstay of red carpet fashion, worn by celebrities including Madonna, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
Some famous fans have even become collaborators; Jennifer Lopez, Zayn Malik and Kanye West have all worked with Zanotti on hugely successful footwear collections. ‘I find it a true privilege to collaborate with a variety of artists of different genres,’ says Zanotti. ‘I get inspired by their creative processes and their thinking. Working together, we are able to merge our passion and energy and encapsulate both their style and my own.’ Giuseppe Zanotti’s celebrity collaborations each have distinct aesthetics and an authenticity sometimes lacking in collections of this type.
Authenticity is crucial to Zanotti’s vision. At a time when many global brands are outsourcing their manufacturing, every pair of Giuseppe Zanotti shoes is hand-crafted in the brand’s own factory in the town where the designer was born. ‘Our factory is based in San Mauro Pascoli, a region where luxury footwear manufacturing has a long-standing tradition,’ he says. ‘We employ expert craftsmen and embroiderers and source all components such as silk fabrics and leather from the most renowned silk factories in Como and the best tanneries in the territory.
‘Italy has always been a cradle of high-quality craftsmanship,’ he adds. ‘Style is inherent to our culture and history in so many ways. What Italians do so well is blending tradition, technology, artisan expertise and style. We apply the latest production methods but keep the personal touch of artisans, which brings sensitivity and emotion into the manufacturing process.’
The autumn/winter 2018/19 collections are as original and exciting as Giuseppe Zanotti’s worldwide fans have come to expect. For women, highlights include bold crystal embellishments across suede boots, sandals and sneakers, while gold heel pumps strike a sophisticated, luxurious tone. More playful and alluring designs include the Bonjour Nuit slippers, and thigh boots in animal print and denim with poppers running the length of the leg. The brand’s signature G heel is seen in glistening gold on pumps and boots.
The men’s offering for this season is a lesson in versatility. The more conservative end of the men’s collection is inspired by a distinctly modern-dandy attitude, ranging from elegant slip-on loafers to eye-catching crystal-adorned monk strap shoes. There are sneakers too, of course, as the designer continues to transform the sporty staple into a must-have luxury item. This season, high-top sneakers take a seriously sophisticated turn in burgundy velvet; in an innovative twist, socks embroidered with the designer’s signature are built into more classic black and white leather sneakers. The collection is rounded out by boots featuring a clever use of zips; the footwear can be worn at full biker length, or low, with the removal of a zip-off top band.
With such a varied offering for both men and women, Giuseppe Zanotti is a shining example of how an established brand can navigate the seemingly boundless arena luxury fashion is moving into. ‘A woman can slip on a pair of embellished heels one night and a pair of cutting-edge sneakers the next day,’ says Zanotti. ‘The beauty of modern luxury is the absence of rules.’
This freedom and variety begs the question: what does Giuseppe Zanotti consider to be the perfect pair of shoes? ‘Strength and a thoroughly contemporary attitude’, he says, though not without one addendum: ‘What ultimately makes a pair of shoes perfect is the way a person wears them’.