Gianvito Rossi talks sky-high stilettos, the importance of self-expression and how he found himself in the world of shoes.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Gianvito Rossi talks sky-high stilettos, the importance of self-expression and how he found himself in the world of shoes.

The Plexi Tobasco Patent Pump, $1,130.

Sitting with Gianvito Rossi in his newly opened flagship store in Marina Bay Sands, one is immediately struck by his soft-spoken demeanour. You don’t expect someone with a constellation of celebrity fans (Amal Clooney, Gisele Bündchen and the Duchess of Cambridge included) to be so unassuming but the Italian shoe designer has always preferred to let his work speak for him. Since launching his own label in 2007, he’s forged a reputation for deftly blending glamour and comfort through a painstaking 60-step process that culminates in the hand assemblage of each shoe. Today, he is known for a philosophy that places his client front and centre of each and every shoe design.

My Reading Room

The Helena Bootie in Praline, $1,450. 

Who is the Gianvito Rossi woman? 

She’s a strong-minded, feminine woman who wants to live her life with confidence. She isn’t a fashion victim, because she doesn’t dress to get other people to notice her; she wants to express herself. And I think the client who approaches my designs and my shoes can see that the shoes are made for them, not for my own ego. Other designers have other approaches; they want to show what they do. I want to show you yourself, but the very best version of yourself. 

My Reading Room

The store front of the Gianvito Rossi flagship at Marina Bay Sands. 

What inspires you as a designer?

Really, it’s the things that happen in my life, like my travels and the people I meet. That is very important to me. I’m inspired by what’s alive, what’s happening, much more than images that are taken by someone else. Seeing things [in real life] is what really strikes me and inspires me.

What are the elements that go into the making of a perfect stiletto? 

There are so many elements. It seems so simple, but even if you take a simple pump, the most classic cut, it’s geometrically complex. The shape and proportions are everything. From the last, which gives the shoe its shape, to the stiletto itself, it’s all important. It’s a combination of all the elements, and it’s a very delicate balance. 

My Reading Room

The store houses bespoke furniture designed by Milan-based architect, Patricia Urquiola.

You grew up surrounded by shoes. When did you decide you wanted to be a shoe designer?

Actually, I never made that decision. I just found myself within this world. I loved it, but the work was very intense and I was so deeply involved that I didn’t even think about it. Then, my father [renowned shoe designer Sergio Rossi] sold his previous company and after a few years, I terminated our collaboration [with the Kering Group, then known as PPR]. At that point I said, it’s ok, I’ll do something else. But when I found myself for the first time without shoes around me, I discovered that making shoes was my way of realising and expressing myself—it is who I am.

My Reading Room

The Evie Sandal, $1,660. 

What are some things you learned from your father that you now apply to your own brand? 

Honestly, I learned everything I know about shoes from my father. He taught me that the most important thing is to keep working on what you do, and try to make it better. Because you can always find a way to make it better, make it slightly different, improve what you’ve done. He taught me that it’s always worth it.