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Gianvito Rossi Steps it up at Bal Harbour

Fashion News
Kick up your heels with Gianvito Rossi’s fringe suede sandal.

By Jessica Mehalic Lucas

He’s one of the most revered footwear designers in the world, but Gianvito Rossi almost walked away from shoes. Growing up as the son of Sergio Rossi in San Mauro Pascoli, Italy, he was smitten from an early age. “When I was four or five, I went down to the factory and the shoes were my toys,” says Rossi. “It’s always been natural to be involved with them.”

Learning firsthand the intricacies of design and complexities of production, Rossi helped his dad build the brand into a footwear powerhouse before they sold the company in 2005. “I found myself for the first time in my life without shoes,” he recalls. “I was thinking I would do something else, but I realized that’s my life. I couldn’t really understand how much it meant until I lost it.”

Fortunately for well-heeled women everywhere, he launched his eponymous line shortly thereafter. Today, the elegant, edgy feminine designs are coveted on every continent and worn by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Gigi Hadid and Carine Roitfeld, who serves as an inspiration to the designer. “She’s super elegant, super sophisticated and chic, but at the same time, she’s modern,” he says. Rossi recently opened his second stateside boutique in Bal Harbour Shops with a vibrant selection of shoes that capture the city’s vibe. “The mood you have in Miami is a little more sensual, like the weather.” he says. “Someone who travels to Miami changes a little bit to match that. That’s why we offer a color or a special style that’s slightly different.”

On the heels of a successful military-inspired collection, Rossi has launched a spring/summer line that celebrates the brand’s 10-year anniversary. Glittering sandals and embellished pumps, garnished with crystal olives, slices of orange and maraschino cherries, are named after classic cocktails. “It was a lot of fun,” Rossi says of the new design, which include the lime crystal Mojito lace-up sandal and a sparkling neon Cocktail bootie. “I don’t use many crystals because I think it can get kind of pretentious and so I wanted to do it in a more ironic way,” says Rossi. “Having a cherry, olive, or orange is a way to play with that. It’s an approach that I think is going to become more and more common in fashion: just play, have a little bit of fun.”

Devotees of Rossi’s signature aesthetic, built on a self-described pillar of elegance, modernity and femininity, will be thrilled by a selection of new styles in luscious satin and fringe. The Caribe sandal updates the iconic Portofino silhouette with fringed satin in Tabasco red, while the quintessential pointed-toe Gianvito pump is rendered in a deep red satin. “Satin is something we’re not used to seeing in shoes, but it’s very interesting,” says Rossi. “It’s light, very feminine and elegant, but not as delicate as people think.”

To ensure optimal comfort and exquisite design, every shoe adheres to a rigorous craftsmanship in the brand’s San Mauro Pascoli factory where Rossi’s dad plays an advisory role. “When you talk about the quality and make of these shoes, it’s based in experience. There’s no college for it,” explains the designer. “My father has a unique experience and he’s very helpful.” Rossi’s celebrated precision—60 steps are followed to create and ensure perfection of a single classic pump—is what keeps the brand from expanding too rapidly. “I don’t want to have a huge network,” he says. “I’m really focused on quality. You cannot achieve quality in unlimited numbers.”

Up next? His elegant footwear will continue to walk the runway for designers like Joseph Altuzarra, Brandon Maxwell and Mary Katrantzou. Rossi will also launch a complete men’s line (he’s been test-driving prototypes) to complement the existing sneaker collection, but don’t expect to find it at the Bal Harbour boutique. “This is a woman’s place,” he says. “It’s her fantasy.”


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