Italian footwear master Sergio Rossi passed away on April 2nd at the age of 84. And with his passing, many Italy natives feel a part of them is lost as well. Sergio Rossi is part of an essential group of designers, from Baldinini to Casadei to Salvatore Ferragamo to Pollini, who made the art of Italian footwear iconic.
After learning the art of the shoemaking from his father, at 14 he became a skilled craftsman early in life and he enjoyed selling his hand-made sandals on the beaches of Romagna. Rossi started selling his first shoes in Bologna stores in 1966, before launching his namesake brand in 1968. Among the most famous shoe models there are the Opanca sandal (launched in 1966) with the round sole and straps that wrap the foot and the more classic, Godita pump and high heel.
During the 1970s Gianni Versace approached Sergio Rossi to work in collaboration. Their union, now famous, was immediately greeted with great enthusiasm by the world of fashion, a meeting between two geniuses, one of the dress, the other of the shoe.
In the 1980s, the brand established close and deep ties with some of the most recognized fashion houses, producing shoes for the Dolce & Gabbana collections (from 1989 to 1999) and for Azzedine Alaïa. The success achieved conferred great fame on the brand. With numerous advertising campaigns, they all contributed to defining the signature image of the woman according to Sergio Rossi. One most notably captured by the famous photographer Helmut Newton with dramatic angles from below to emphasize the long lines of the body, insisting on the importance of the heel - always more than seven centimeters high - in so as to give the leg an air of high-energy.
In 1999, the Sergio Rossi brand was sold to Gucci group, and then both brands passed to the French group Kering of François Pinault. In December 2015, Sergio Rossi returned to Italian ownership, purchased by Andrea Bonomi's investindustrial fund. Over the past decades his creations have been popular amongst Hollywood's elite actresses, from Sharon Stone to Diane Kruger, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Halle Barry and Cate Blanchett.
The CEO of the brand Riccardo Sciutto, who came into the company in 2016, said that the designer "loved women and was able to capture the femininity of a woman in a unique way. It has never been exaggerated, always in good taste. The shoes they were always wearable and he was never satisfied until they were perfect. They were not accessories for him. He once told me he wanted to create the perfect extension of a woman's leg." Last month Sergio Rossi donated $100,000 to the Sacco hospital in Milan to help fight the coronavirus, further cementing his legacy on not only the fashion world, but the heart of Italy.