It’s all in the details
The secret of Sergio Rossi creative director Russo is to pay careful attention to ‘the esthetics of beautiful things’
NEW YORK — Sergio Rossi creative director Francesco Russo doesn’t measure change in dates, time or technology. For him, trends move by the millimetre.
Fashion — especially the accessories that are his hallmark — is a little bit art, a little bit science, but it’s always about details. For example, the difference in the shoe that’s right for jeans and a T-shirt versus a cocktail dress can be the slightest change in the width of the heel or vamp of the toe, he says. Those are the things that drew him into fashion.
“I have always been fascinated by fashion. I like the esthetics of beautiful things,” says Russo, wearing a silk scarf tied around his neck and perched on the roof deck of Manhattan’s exclusive Soho House.
“It could be design, architecture, furniture or fashion, but since the beginning, I was surrounded by women getting dressed up. It was natural for me to go into fashion.”
He is very much the high-flying fashion jet-setter but also a historian and craftsman, linking in the same breath the glories of the Internet and its globalization of style with Yves Saint Laurent’s groundbreaking trouser suits and the sexual revolution of the 1960s.
“For me, shoes is what I do. It’s what I’d decide to do in my next life, if I have one.”
He’s flattered by celebrities, including Anne Hathaway, Diane Kruger and Michelle Pfeiffer, who wear Sergio Rossi on the red carpet, but he’s in it more for creating shoes and handbags for women of all ages and lifestyles.
“I love something sculptural, something solid and I am so, so attracted by the psychological relationship of women and their shoes,” he says.
Russo, born and raised in Italy, studied in Milan at the Marangoni Institute, where there was a brief stint studying ready to wear before moving into accessories. His resume includes top fashion houses such as Miu Miu, Costume National and Yves Saint Laurent. He joined Sergio Rossi in 2008.
“No one has been able to answer what makes women so passionate about their accessories,” Russo says.
On a recent trip to New York, Russo got up close and personal with his muses. Barneys New York held an event in his honour in the new shoe department of its Madison Avenue flagship. Shoppers were allowed to ask questions or receive autographs, while the retailer raised money for the Human Rights Campaign.
His fans ask him about different materials and craftsman techniques; some will ask about his background and family. He prefers those.
For 2013, he predicts women will love his styles that wrap up the leg like a corset and are made of exotic skins.
“I like to balance design and functionality,” he says. “I don’t want to cross the line either way.”
Russo says he designs not for one woman but for many, and sometimes he’ll think about what all their boyfriends and husbands might like. He never gives a name to his inspiration and doesn’t name products after specific people, however, they always get a personality.
He often gives them a full wardrobe, even if it’s only stored in his imagination. “It’s a good exercise for me to create a fuller look, but I get a more complete vision of the look of the woman if I think of her with no face.”
Francesco Russo, the genius behind Sergio Rossi, is flattered by the celebrities like Anne Hathaway, Diane Kruger and Michelle Pfeiffer who wear his stunning creations on the red carpet. But he’s more moved by the pursuit of creating shoes and handbags...