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Life Style: Miss Universe Bahrain arrives in New Orleans for beauty pageant

Celebrity shoe designer Gianvito Rossi talks Mideast expansion and sustainability initiatives

DUBAI: In September 2022, Kim Kardashian posted a story on her Instagram showing 17 pairs of Gianvito Rossi pumps — in every color. Elsewhere, Kate Middleton has been seen wearing the luxury shoe label’s classic Gianvito 105 pumps on multiple official engagements. Queen Rania is also a fan.

Founded in 2006 by Gianvito Rossi, the son of renowned shoe designer Sergio Rossi, the label has become a celebrity closet staple. (Supplied)

Founded in 2006 by Gianvito Rossi, the son of renowned shoe designer Sergio Rossi, the label has become a celebrity closet staple — for royalty and global A-listers.

Closer to home, the designer’s namesake label opened its first flagship store in the UAE earlier in 2022, followed by a second one in Qatar’s Place Vendome.

While the brand has had a presence in the Middle East with partners like Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdales, opening flagship stores speaks of its popularity within the region, as Arab News discovered in a chat with the designer.

“I think we have reached a point where we can move our focus to a new rollout of store openings, and the Middle East is without any doubt a great opportunity for us,” said Rossi.

Saudi Arabia is up next — the Kingdom will soon have its first Gianvito Rossi flagship store, which the designer is very excited about. “We saw the high demand for the brand in the region, so we felt it was time to present our collection in its full range. The region is facing a bright business moment, and we have great business partners, so the combination of these factors made it happen naturally.”

This region has been an important one — so much so that in 2019 Rossi created an exclusive capsule collection for the Middle East. “I’m always amused by the idea of creating something special for my most important partners, and I feel stimulated by the idea of doing it for the Middle East clients,” he explained.

Rossi grew up surrounded by shoes and credits his father for teaching him the tools of the trade. “I consider myself very lucky because I had the chance to learn all about the process from him. He had extreme attention to design and was always looking to reach the perfect silhouette: this is indeed the greatest lesson learned from him,” he added.

His father opened his factory in 1951, which is now the base for Rossi’s brand too. After working alongside his father for 25 years, Rossi decided to branch out independently. Despite holding a degree in sociology and political science, from a young age Rossi knew he was destined to create shoes — for him, it is a form of self-expression.

His wife and two children also play key roles in the company, making the label a quintessential Italian family business. Since the brand’s inception, Rossi has created a cult following for his shoes — cue his stilettos that are comfortable to wear and the label’s refined silhouettes. “It’s a matter of continuous study and meticulous research to reach perfection. I love to say that ‘real luxury in shoes lies in the pleasure of slipping them on,’” said Rossi.

One of his most coveted designs, the Plexi pump, has been worn by celebrities including Amal Clooney and Meghan Markle. “I’m proud to say that we have been the first brand to turn the use of Plexi into a personal trademark in luxury footwear. The Plexi collection boasts a sophisticated see-through effect that enhances the female silhouette making the leg look longer.”

Some of his other personal favorite models include the Portofino sandal for its modern and minimal aesthetic and the 105 stiletto pump for its perfect proportions. While most of the brand’s shoes often feature restraint, their latest line, Jaipur, offers a little something extra — a large gemstone on each shoe created by their expert artisans. This is the first time the label has played around with decorations, explained Rossi.

“The Jaipur family is a style outlined by a striking gem, a standout element inspired by a trip I had planned in Jaipur, India. I imagined the treasures, the colors, and the traditions of this amazing country, especially known for some of the most amazing high jewelry worn by the Maharajahs back in time,” he said.

Rossi kept the stone the same color as the shoes to maintain the brand’s signature look — less is more aesthetic.

In 2022, Rossi also collaborated with French clean beauty brand La Bouche Rouge to create a limited-edition capsule collection of refillable lipstick cases using upcycled leather from the shoemaker’s production process. The partnership also speaks of Rossi’s sustainability initiative — a cause the brand is committed to championing.

Aside from an exclusive Refurbishment Service, which aims to remodel old shoes to give them a new lease on life, the brand continuously strives to reduce its CO2 emissions. “As a company, we took our first step towards sustainability a few years ago by lowering our CO2 impact by 60 percent while applying the concept of a circular economy. We are also working on reducing and upcycling our waste. We aim to reach zero emissions by 2025 for the entire supply chain.”

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