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’

Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - SA­MAN­THA CRITCHELL

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.”

Billy Far­rell/the As­so­ci­ated Press

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...

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