Shoes are one of the things that come to mind when one thinks of Italy.
Craftsmanship combined with a keen eye for styling put Italian shoes on the international fashion map in the post-WWII period, taken back to the USA by returning GI’s for example, and the Italian shoe industry never looked back. By the 1960’s, Italian shoes were already a byname for chic and quality.
Continuing in that tradition, Gianvito Rossi produces the kind of designs that actually explain why shoes can assume a consumer fetish status. In fact, in Gianvito Rossi’s current collection, there are a lot of ways in which the line between fashion and fetish is a very narrow one. The notable spike heel that features throughout the collection has more than a passing connection with the idea of the dominatrix; a sexually conscious and powerful woman. Rossi himself acknowledges that his woman is part warrior, a contemporary gladiator enacting her will in urban settings. In Rossi’s stylish and very sexy collection, the spike heel is re-invented as an almost architectural element. Rather than ergonomic or curvaceous, it becomes an elegant industrial joist inserted almost as an afterthought at the very outer edge of the shoe. The heel can barely keep up with the mistress who wears it. The effect wonderfully reinforces the sexy precariousness of it all, reminding us that the wearer remains in that alluring tip-toe position by the grace of a very slim vertical element indeed.
The heel is applied to designs that play with its kinky connotations in a range of different ways. Little red ankle boots evoke a Victorian sexuality untamed by social repression; animal skin motifs suggest women warriors from female gladiators to comic book heroines. And, of course, there is a vague nostalgia for the 1970’s about it all, bringing to mind the decadent chic of the disco era in which a flamboyant and overt female sexuality was inherent in so many of the styles that fashion produced during that era. The heel itself is reminiscent of the 1970’s spike heel in its slimness and height, but its reinvention through tweaking and reshaping within very confined parameters only goes to show just how precise a shoe derringer’s talents need to be to make a bold new statement.
The sexed-up chic of the current collection is particularly evident in numerous ankle boot models and even more so in the knee-length and over-the-knee black boots featuring a similarly provocative heel. Red and ocelot boots offer equally dramatic options. But, for those who would love to retain the sexy style of the shoe itself whilst not feeling that comfortable with such bold colours, be sure to check out the options in the beautifully neutral clay or coffee suede.
The ankle boot design in coffee suede featuring a little platform at the front, tightly laced onto the wearer’s foot is a wonderful exercise in mixed messages. The understated colour is the epitome of subtle sophistication. Yet, that can never negate the sheer eroticism of the form in which the beauty of the foot is underlined by the lacing that pulls it tight to the skin. One can’t help think of the grand Parisian courtesans of the nineteenth century. They surely would have understood the power of such a shoe to ensnare men’s hearts.