Sergio Rossi’s heels are already the stuff of legend, and the spring-summer 2011 collection takes direct inspiration from the realm of primordial, earth goddess imagery to produce a potent series that speaks of pure seduction. One of the most outstanding feature of Sergio Rossi shoes this season is brass, hammered into curvaceous, shield-like forms on the heels of ankle-strap, gladiator, wedge and T-strap sandals, and as dazzling highlights on the fetishist leather of the spectacular Gladia knee-high, lace-front boots.
Gold accents appear more succinctly in sandals and in the superb patent leather clutches which will surely be a must-have accessory of the season. Not to mention the “Antelope Strass” gold satin gladiator sandals, completely covered in Swarovski crystal, reminiscent of Damien Hirst’s famous diamond-covered skull. Brass even becomes a sort of body armour in the sexually-charged bustier and bodice, with leather trim, pieces worthy of female warrior-Amazons from some ancient and glorious civilization.
All this is of course entirely in line with the habitual Sergio Rossi image, based on daring, sculptural shapes, bold colour, and an unerring skill in designing a look that provides the primary note of an outfit, an element of pure style which sets the tone for the total look. Francesco Russo, creative director of Sergio Rossi, says, “These decorative elements influence a woman in her imagination as much as in her appearance.” Russo is supremely aware of the mystic appeal of footwear for women, using exciting and exotic materials such as python, wood and metal with flashes of red, orange, pink and electric blue to generate a visual effect that once seen is never forgotten.
Even in a classic such as “Lola,” a high-heeled pump, the glorious colours and materials – red python, blue patent, and multicolour watersnake – make the piece a runway classic and an evening showstopper. Watersnake is used to spectacular effect in the “Ease” platform wedges and the “Ramses” sandals, with the fascination of a complex chromatic surface generated by the patterns of the leather.
A fashion brand is best appreciated and understood in a flagship or own-brand store, and Sergio Rossi’s new concept store in Rome (Piazza di Spagna 97/100) is a worthwhile experience in its own right as well as offering a splendid overview of the Sergio Rossi outlook. It celebrates Italian femininity and the world of cinema by creating a film-set ambience in which trying on a Sergio Rossi shoe brings you straight into the glitter of Sophia Loren and Anita Ekberg. Polished brass display cubes, lipstick-coloured chaise longue, skin-toned curtains, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, marble flooring and zebra skin are features of the two evocative settings behind the windows of the store set at the foot of the legendary Spanish Steps.
Ilse Crawford, principal designer at the architecture practise Studioilse that created the store, said, “When I look at spaces, I don’t just look at the visual. I’m much more interested in the sensory thing, the human context, the primal perspective, the thing that touches you.” And this of course corresponds exactly to the element that makes products by Sergio Rossi so enticing: their unique ability to hook directly into the undercurrent of yearning for ancient and primordial beauty that since time immemorial has been a part of man and woman.
Sergio Rossi has taken footwear into the realm of art in a literal sense. In October 2010 in Paris, the Bernard Ceysson gallery exhibited 18 boots hand-painted by Claude Viallat, an artist working in the Supports/Surfaces movement. These pieces, in which the artist developed the forms of his work around the shape of the boot, in consideration of the vertical seam, are the starting point for a series of accessories, boots and bags in screen-printed canvas with leather and suede, available in Sergio Rossi boutiques worldwide from summer 2011.
The Sergio Rossi approach to footwear is based on sensual visual imagery, but even the highest heels have another important characteristic: their lightness and comfort. This reflects the history of the House, which began with Sergio Rossi who inherited the tools and skills of shoemaking from his father, in San Mauro Pascoli, near Bologna. Sergio developed what was basically a crafts concern into something more ambitious. He studied in Milan in the early 1950s when he was just twenty, and developed his feel for shape. This long apprenticeship began to pay off a decade later, when the fashion scene in Italy began to change in the early 1960s, with the onset of modern design, prêt-à-porter, and the fashion look as so brilliantly expressed by iconic films such as La Dolce Vita. Sergio Rossi became Gianni Versace’s preferred supplier of footwear for catwalk presentations, and the resulting visibility enabled Rossi to open his first brand boutiques, first in Italy and then in New York, Los Angeles and London. Between 1980 and 1990, an average of two boutiques opened every year.
Today, Sergio Rossi is synonymous with vertiginous boots and daring stilettos, and the brand’s association with the Gucci Group has consolidated its position based on those crucial three inches of stature. But the brand’s image is also firmly founded on craftsmanship, with 120 hand-crafting operations performed on each pair of shoes, alongside state-of-the-art technology. All this ensures that whatever model you choose, you’ll be riding high, in comfort and style.
Click here to see a list of Sergio Rossi boutiques
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