Giuseppe, you’re credited with being the man who created the concept of the celebrity fashion collaboration.
‘I was the first designer to start collaborations with celebrities before any other, 15 or 20 years ago. It was all about forging the relationship between music and art and cinema and shoes and fashion. But before the social media era, it was all about meeting people face-to-face, a case of networking at the runway shows. Moving between New York, London, Paris and Milan all the time, it was those connections with artists and singers that started it all. I was a friend of Beyonce and Michelle from Destiny’s Child. At the beginning, Beyonce was the fiancée of Jay Z. And then Jay Z introduced me to John Legend. And then John Legend to another couple of guys. And then I went for a trip to Atlanta to open a store there, and I met 2 Chainz and Kid Cudi. And then I met Kanye at one of my shows, when he was still with Amber Rose. He was actually really shy, and told me he wanted to design. And he was like a student, and wanted to show me his portfolio. He wasn’t a designer, but I knew he used to write lyrics for Jay Z for Beyonce, for Alicia Keys. It was a network – before Instagram, there was only the network.
It was a whole different world back then…
‘In the beginning, there were no agents – no money or business. Nobody asked you about money. I’d go and do shoes for free. They were friends and you’d go for dinner and you’d talk and that was it. it was fun. Very fun. Now it’s completely different. If you wanted to do something with Kim Kardashian, or Paris Hilton, we’d talk together and do something. They are really lovely and nice girls. It was just very simple and very different back then.
Your latest celebrity collaboration is with Rita Ora. you previously designed couture shoes for her uk tour, so was a design partnership just the next step for you both?
‘I First met Rita in New York. And she was super-super funny. She has lived in london since she was one, but she used to buy my shoes everywhere. She used to come into the store to buy shoes with all the sisters and her mum and always be so wild, like “Waah, Giuseppe!” And she was so crazy and so funny. She has this huge energy and a big passion for music, as well as a major talent and a dynamite body too. She just never, never stays calm. But she’s really genuine person. A true, genuine person. So we met, we talked, we met again and we decided to design some shoes together.’
What was the inspiration behind the collection?
‘I wanted to create a series of styles that represents the three different facets of Rita: glamour, effortlessness and cool. Music has always been at the center of my design ethos and has always been my most powerful muse. The music world is an endless source of inspiration and Rita, with her extraordinary mix of sensuality and strength, proved to be a very powerful muse too. So we created knock-out stiletto sandals, to-the-knee, peep-toe boots as well as modern slip-on flats, in luxurious materials, like polished leather, textured suede, and rich silk-satin. But the defining element of the collection is the Cuban Link chain, which is my favorite type of jewelry. The design is immediate, graphic and strong and it resonated perfectly with Rita’s personality and style.
What are your favourite shoes in the collection?
I like the boots. And the black sandals. Rita likes the gold sandals. And the boots in red. She loves red. I think I also said to her ‘Red, silver, gold chains, it’s too much. “ And she said “But I am too much!” She is just SO extra. And amazing.
The campaign shoot is very dramatic…
The images of Rita are very strong. In the shoot, we would be telling her “Be more strong! Be more sexy!" And sometimes, she was in front of the camera, and it was like “Woah, maybe it’s too much?!” and she was like “No, I can never be too much!”
All of your collaborations are with musicians. considering your first career path, the obvious question is, when are you going to do some music with the artists you collaborate with? as a DJ or a music producer. Because you love music so much?
I used to be a DJ, but then I found shoes and everything changed. My challenge with music – I lost the game. And now I have another profession on my hands. So now I use music, I listen to music, I have a lot of friends who do music, I’m happy to be part of the people who listen to music. And with friends. But I think I’m good. I have a lot of things to do in my work, and I cannot do other things. But when you do a collection, it’s like a play list with 50 songs. And if you are able to combine 50 songs from the past and present: from rock and roll or hip-hop or pop or something together in a good way, and if you are happy with the music…a collection is the same. If you have a sneaker a flat, an evening, a boot, it works. I think thanks to the music I learned a lot about the sense of balance. – the harmony of it all.
Who do you plan to work with next?
‘Maybe I will do something with someone local to this region? Maybe a fashion designer. I would love that. I want to do something specific with the Middle Eastern Fashion talent. And also I think this kind of fashion is perfect for my shoes. The middle east is all about glamour and sparkle and bling. But with some small twists of rock and roll. I can totally be inspired by that.’
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