Gherardo Felloni about tradition, modernity and of course: shoes!
Fantasy, humor, but also a good dose of realism characterize the shoe design of Roger Vivier's new creative director Gherardo Felloni. An encounter
Text: Konstantin Spachis
"Designers who dare things and believe in their instincts are the most successful."Gherardo Felloni, 38, is a prime example
The very first official act of Gherardo Felloni was to paint his office pink. "Couture pink!" as the charming Italian said with a smile when we met during the last Paris Fashion Week. A few days after his third presentation for Roger Vivier, we have an appointment in the rooms above the boutique on the elegant Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, just a stone's throw from the Élysée Palace. The designer is in a good mood, relaxed and radiates warmth and cordiality - typically Italian. The 38-year-old has combined grey, narrow-cut pleated trousers with a white button-down shirt - and decorated it with an antique necklace from the 19th century, but more about this later. On his feet he wears colorful sneakers from Nike.
Gherardo Felloni has set up a creative cell, which could have originated from a film set by Wes Anderson: Numerous pink shelves, filled over and over with shoes from the archive, frame the light-flooded room. In the center, an antique Memphis-style table with Gio Ponti's "Superleggera" chairs is enthroned. And the eye-catcher par excellence in the truest sense of the word: an Adonis statue holding a fuchsia satin shoe by Roger Vivier from the 60s. "This is the very first Roger Vivier shoe model I have seen in my life. It was illustrated in a little book by Assouline from the 90s. Since then, the brand has completely captivated me. I was lucky enough to be able to buy the shoes at an auction a few years ago.
Before fate knocked on his door last spring and made him the creative head of Roger Vivier, the son of a shoe manufacturer born in the Tuscan province and a biologist, he made a name for himself as a shoe designer in the luxury industry. First with Helmut Lang in New York, later with Dior and Miu Miu in Paris. At the latter label, he rose to become head of design for shoes and accessories and was responsible for blockbusters such as the slipper sandal with shearling fur and large pearls from autumn 2016. Felloni, who incidentally also trained as an opera tenor, began collecting original Roger Vivier designs at an early age. "His work has always been an important reference for me personally," he says about the company founder who revolutionized shoe design - creating, among other things, a pair of gold pumps with a jewel-covered heel for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Just as unforgettable: the "Belle Vivier", the patent leather shoe with square toe and an oversized silver buckle, which Catherine Deneuve wore in the 1967 film "Belle de Jour" to the costumes of Yves Saint Laurent. When Gherardo Felloni was allowed to immerse himself in Roger Vivier's archive, it seemed like a land of milk and honey. But after fifteen days in the archives, he said to himself: That's it! And the sacred halls closed for a long time. "It is better to remember something only than to have it right in front of you - otherwise you run the risk of copying things. Of course the history of the house is important, but you have to interpret it for the here and now."
No sooner said than done: Since his first presentation, Roger Vivier is back on everyone's lips - sorry! - on all feet. In addition to the classics of the house, it is Felloni's new shapes, such as the men's loafers with glitter buckles, the cowboy boots and block pumps made of satin and the sneakers that are so hotly sought after. One of his first designs were the "Viv' Run" sneakers. "I approached them literally with a mathematical formula. They are super light, made of Flyknit, have an elastic buckle and a very comfortable heel. Sneakers are the shoes every woman wants and needs right now." Comfort is elementary in Felloni's shoe designs - also in the construction of pumps, which in his debut collection all had a heel below seven centimeters. "It's a form of respect for women," he says, thus refusing to accept the norm of other (male) shoe designers who normally stylize the female foot as a fetish in the form of dizzying stilettos. "It's outmoded to think that women walk around in high heels all day long. When I sketch shoes, I always automatically think about self-confidence. It may sound abstract, but the concept kind of works." Despite this sense of reality, Felloni's glittering shoes and bags with fringes and feathers guarantee good spirits, make any grey business costume look cheerful - and ennoble any glamorous cocktail dress. He creates shoes that also function as pieces of jewelry. Which brings us to the subject: the antique jewelry collection of Gherardo Felloni. "15 years ago I started collecting 19th century necklaces, rings and brooches. The initial spark was given by Manuela Pavesi, eternal muse and former right hand of Miuccia Prada. "I remember seeing her one day in a green Nike jacket made of nylon. She was wearing an antique necklace with emeralds as a matter of course. It was a fashion moment of a different kind." It was also Pavesi who introduced Felloni to this world - and sent him to the right jewelry stores: he bought his first piece of jewelry at the Gioielleria Pennisi in Milan. Since then, his collection has grown steadily and has become an integral part of his daily wardrobe. "The most important thing is that you don't just hoard these things, but actually wear them. For me they represent a craftsmanship that no longer exists in this form. And they represent my personal style. Although I live a modern life, I like to wear something historic."more is more
More is more
1 Pink Tote Bag with V-Handle, 1200 Euros 2 Mules in ethnic look, 1300 Euros 3 Viv' Skate sneakers with block stripes, 590 Euros 4 Shoulder bag with logo, 1200 Euros 5 Studio 54-style block pumps, 890 Euros 6 Mini backpack made of satin, with rhinestones, 1600 Euros