FROM THE CAR TO THE SHOE

Leav­ing be­hind cars, Wal­ter De Silva chose to un­der­take a new ca­reer as an ar­chi­tect of the shoe: in this ad­ven­ture he has re­dis­cov­ered his own past, phi­los­o­phy and fam­ily his­tory.

All About Italy (USA) - - Editorial - Paolo Del Panta

When Wal­ter De Silva tells us about his new ad­ven­ture, it is easy to find traces of his vivid en­thu­si­asm, never faded with time. It is typ­i­cal of those who live in ideas, car­ried by a cre­ativ­ity that does not wa­ver, but which is made ever live­lier by the years and ex­pe­ri­ences that have nour­ished it.

The day when the point of his pen­cil traced the lines of a car for the last time, Wal­ter De Silva im­me­di­ately sharp­ened another to con­tinue defin­ing new forms, al­ways con­nected to his found­ing prin­ci­ples: in­no­va­tion, el­e­gance and bal­ance. This is how he brought to life his col­lec­tion of evening shoes, “Form in Mo­tion”. There is soul and tech­nique, there is ev­ery­thing that might seem to be in con­tra­dic­tion but which comes to­gether gra­ciously, in in­spired and boun­ti­ful syn­chronic­ity. If the avant-garde style seems to ex­tend be­yond its own con­fines, ar­chi­tec­tural rigor stops feel­ings giv­ing way to what is, in ac­tual fact, per­fec­tion.

The Wal­ter De Silva brand in­cludes all his phi­los­o­phy, in ev­ery de­tail, over­seen by his own fault­less man­ner. De Silva ap­proaches his new project as an ar­chi­tect: he may not rec­og­nize here the term ‘fash­ion de­signer’ but he can­not deny that cer­tain ideas of fash­ion have in­flu­enced the de­sign world, and vice versa.

From lo­gos to ma­te­rial, from shapes to color, shines the gift of sim­plic­ity, pre­sented here with char­ac­ter. The shoes are made light – up to 150-170 grams – to give the woman the lev­ity that is her own. The wedge has been given care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, de­signed upon a heel of up to 10.5 cen­time­ters, a work of art even at first sight. Pri­mary ma­te­ri­als are clas­sic in tex­ture, but mi­cro work­ings and tex­tures are in­no­va­tive in the ap­proach: the soft­est tas­sel, satin, suede and var­nish blend into car­bon, thin and tapped fibers. While hold­ing the struc­ture is a sen­sual and har­mo­nious heel, pre­sented wrapped in var­nish or coated, to which in­stinc­tive ad­mi­ra­tion is the only re­sponse.

The shoe branded Wal­ter De Silva is a hymn to woman’s fem­i­nin­ity and beauty, to the woman who does not need any trap­pings, be­cause she finds her char­ac­ter in sim­plic­ity. No won­der black is the pre­dom­i­nant color of the col­lec­tion, el­e­gant in its hard­ness, sin­u­ous in the lines that shape the shoe. There is no rigid­ity, but a de­ter­mi­na­tion warmed by the or­ange found in­side the shoe, as­sur­ing bal­ance.

De Silva shoes are cre­ated for wear­ers of Made in Italy and their man­u­fac­ture is en­trusted to the tal­ented and skilled hands of a qual­ity com­pan­ion com­pany: pro­duced in small batches – just over 1,000 a year – and largely by hand, the footwear is fab­ri­cated in Italy, by GGR of Gian­vito Rossi, a suc­cess­ful de­signer and syn­onym for long-term guar­an­tee.

Then, as if Wal­ter De Silva’s story wasn’t in­ter­est­ing enough, there is also his­tory in his shoes, a fam­ily his­tory. The ad­ven­ture of this global de­signer is a legacy of pas­sion, con­cealed

over the years – al­beit in a sub­tle way – and passed on by his ma­ter­nal grand­par­ents Giusep­pina and Ferruccio Scola, who in the 1920s founded a shoe fac­tory of the same name fre­quented by the Mi­lanese bour­geoisie. From his grand­fa­ther, the art of the shoe was also passed to Emilio, Wal­ter’s fa­ther, who cre­ated mod­els for the shoe fac­tory re­ly­ing on his ta­lent as a de­signer.

The his­tory, the pas­sion, the ge­nius and the at­ti­tude of the two gen­er­a­tions merge per­fectly in Wal­ter De Silva, who – hav­ing so far put ev­ery­thing into cars – now takes his in­spi­ra­tion from the past to look to the fu­ture, one of footwear. Be­cause with De Silva, the fu­ture is al­ready on the move. And the lines be­ing drawn tell you so.

Pas­sion is your driv­ing force, the pen­cil your in­stru­ment. What did Wal­ter De Silva want to draw at the be­gin­ning?

Yes, maybe by vo­ca­tion I was born with a pen­cil in my hand, but I stud­ied so much, I was even self­taught. I grew up in a fam­ily of ar­chi­tects, and my fa­ther’s wish was for me to keep me go­ing in that same di­rec­tion. But I was a young man of the gen­er­a­tion of ’68, when all of us were an­gry and ready for change. I wanted to draw cars and, against my fa­ther’s wishes, I left ar­chi­tec­ture. In the end he sup­ported me, though he did not be­lieve much in the path I had cho­sen. If he had been there the day I re­ceived my hon­orary de­gree, he would surely have been proud of me.

Wal­ter De Silva ex­presses his phi­los­o­phy and love for de­tail in an el­e­gant women’s shoe that is a hymn to the shin­ing light of her own beauty.

Your fa­ther was also a pres­ti­gious de­signer. Tell us a lit­tle about him...

My fa­ther was a great graphic de­signer. A nat­u­ral ta­lent who made a pro­fes­sion out of th­ese gifts. In the post-war pe­riod he also made ad­ver­tis­ing graph­ics and his in­tu­ition was al­ways par­tic­u­larly ap­pre­ci­ated. It was his sig­na­ture on the Pi­ag­gio logo: he knew how to build the story of a brand, did my fa­ther, the value of his vi­sion­ary ap­proach di­rected to el­e­vate the brand and its prod­uct iden­tity. A real pro­fes­sional.

From cars to shoes. De­scribe the road that led to this new route...

Be­hind this new path of mine there is also fam­ily his­tory: my grand­fa­ther made shoes and his pas­sion did not go un­no­ticed. Time has brought me back along the same foot­steps and it was lovely to dis­cover some things from my fam­ily’s day: I found my grand­fa­ther’s group pho­tos with the work­ers, a pair of my grand­mother’s shoes dat­ing back 97 years that I ex­hib­ited in Mi­lan, and also my fa­ther’s car­i­ca­tures from when he worked in my grand­fa­ther’s fac­tory. In my house, that was the world that grew up around me, it spoke so much. True, I then de­vel­oped my pas­sion for cars, but I promised that when I stopped draw­ing cars I would start pro­duc­ing women’s shoes. Fun­da­men­tally, th­ese two worlds are not so far apart, even be­cause of their strong con­nec­tion to hu­man phys­i­cal­ity. In my opin­ion, there are three ob­jects in which the aes­thetic and cul­tural as­pect share a lead­ing role with the per­son us­ing them: the car, the mo­tor­bike and the woman’s shoe. The car be­cause its shape and aero­dy­nam­ics are not merely the re­sult of sim­ple math­e­mat­ics but the hu­man hand, the mo­tor­bike be­cause it is at one and in the mo­ment with the man driv­ing it, and the woman’s shoe be­cause it pays homage to her beauty.

Are you turn­ing a page with this new ad­ven­ture?

It is per­haps only a new para­graph, draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the pre­vi­ous one. Af­ter all, I was born into de­sign and ar­chi­tec­ture and I stayed there for 43 years. When you spend a great deal of your life in a cer­tain world, though it seems you are chang­ing sec­tors, you can­not com­pletely de­tach your­self from it.

Today I cre­ate shoes, that world con­tin­ues to draw the lines of my in­spi­ra­tion, and all my pas­sion for art, ar­chi­tec­ture, de­sign in gen­eral, are flow­ing into this new chal­lenge.

What is be­hind a De Silva shoe?

When I con­cep­tu­al­ize my shoes I seek the essence, iden­tity, that goes be­yond their ac­tual ap­pear­ance. My shoes want to “ex­ist”: they have a rigor and a con­sis­tency that can eas­ily be traced within the en­tire col­lec­tion.

It is not by chance that I chose an iconic color for this first set of shoes: black, shades of el­e­gance, truth with­out blem­ish.

Ev­ery­thing ends in black be­cause black is zero. It’s a bit like metal­lic gray in the car: it’s used to de­fine and ad­mire vol­ume, lines, and style.

Who is the woman wear­ing Wal­ter De Silva shoes? Is there a muse that in­spires her?

They are women of au­then­tic beauty, not just aes­thet­ics. I im­me­di­ately think of two very dif­fer­ent women but with an essence and a nat­u­ral style: Mon­ica Bel­lucci and Fed­er­ica Pel­le­grini.

It is said that draw­ing a por­trait starts with the eyes. And de­sign­ing shoes?

It does not mat­ter, but the start­ing point for draw­ing a shoe is sim­plic­ity. De­sign is a dis­ci­pline, but also a phi­los­o­phy, de­rived from aes­thet­ics and po­et­ics. It is when th­ese three el­e­ments join to­gether that the icon, the work of art, is cre­ated. Dante Gi­a­cosa, for ex­am­ple, when he in­vented the Fiat 500, cre­ated – per­haps with­out re­al­iz­ing it – the iconic em­blem: in that car there is the ut­most dis­ci­pline, aes­thet­ics and po­et­ics. Even in cars, I never went in for quirky lines, I sought the es­sen­tial, overde­sign does not work: you need ab­so­lute pro­por­tions, well-made ar­chi­tec­ture that breathes. Or­na­men­tal ex­cess is typ­i­cal of the Dark Ages, re­dun­dant and never el­e­gant.

Your shoes em­brace the prin­ci­ple of Made in Italy through­out their whole pro­duc­tion process. Is this an added value for the col­lec­tion?

On my shoes is writ­ten “Cre­ated and Made in Italy” be­cause ours is more than an added value. It is what we do best: cre­ate dreams and ex­port them all over the world.

You have al­ways made a dif­fer­ence as an in­no­va­tor, so much so that you could al­most be con­sid­ered a vi­sion­ary. Would this be a def­i­ni­tion that you rec­og­nize?

I do not con­sider my­self a vi­sion­ary, that would be pre­sump­tu­ous, but a pi­o­neer, yes. In my ca­reer, I

some­how an­tic­i­pated the trends, I un­der­stood the way that plans and the fu­ture were go­ing. Even with re­gard to the de­sign of the women’s shoe, 20 years ago – when I was still draw­ing cars – I re­al­ized that this sec­tor would ex­pe­ri­ence a boom, that it would be suc­cess­ful and full of stim­u­lus. I was not mis­taken and that is why I’m in it today.

Is there some­thing that you never de­signed but what he would like to cre­ate?

I would like to draw the next chal­lenge. I do not have a spe­cific ob­ject in my mind’s eye, but I am thrilled with ev­ery new project that en­cour­ages me to con­front my­self and de­velop: it could be a tele­phone, it could be a trac­tor, pro­vided that it cre­ates the en­thu­si­asm to face the new.

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