This month, we sat down with Angelo Ruggeri, Collection and Design Director at Sergio Rossi, for his first-ever interview in the Middle East. Born in Sicily, Ruggeri’s Italian heritage is a constant source of inspiration when designing his collections. We chatted with the talented designer about his new position at the luxury footwear brand and his latest Spring/Summer 2014 collection, honoring famed artist Gabriella Crespi.
You have been designing shoes for over 15 years, having previously worked for Tom Ford and Giorgio Armani. Tell us about your journey to becoming a shoe designer and your move to Sergio Rossi in 2013.
I started thinking of working in fashion when I was six years old. I literally spent all my life dreaming about this world and working hard to be part of it. From around 1998 to 2000, when my career started, the shoe business was becoming more and more important, and shoes seemed to me an amazing opportunity for expressing my creativity. After graduating as a shoe designer and after my first experience working with Giorgio Armani, I joined Sergio Rossi in 2006; I worked there for five years. Then, in 2013 during my time at Tom Ford, the CEO of Sergio Rossi offered me the position of Collection and Design Director. I didn’t have any doubts about it, so I accepted to come back. Sergio Rossi is a beautiful brand, a great company where I feel like at I’m at home.
Tell us about the first pair of shoes you ever designed.
The first pair of shoes I designed was a beautiful pair of high-heel pumps, in red suede, with small folds on the tip – like the traditional dance shoes.
How did you feel when you completed your first collection?
I felt very satisfied, really proud to have had the opportunity, and ready to work on the next collection.
Having grown up in Sicily and studied in Venice, how have Italian culture, style, history, and aesthetics influenced your designs?
Italy is a magical country, with a very rich and interesting heritage. The country excels in art, cuisine, and fashion and, as an Italian, I’m really proud of this amazing background. As a reflection of this great historical heritage, my personal aesthetics are constantly oriented towards beauty, the harmony of shapes, and toward the search for balance between classicism and contemporary taste.
In the Resort 2014 collection, you chose to honor Italian artist Gabriella Crespi with many of the designs incorporating shapes and aesthetics typical of the 1970s. What about Gabriella Crespi and her work inspired you to collaborate with her?
Gabriella Crespi is an admirable example of Italian creativity. What really inspired the collection was the eclectic aesthetics of Gabriella. I literally fell in love with her pure design. I was fascinated by her search for balance between the spiritual and material side of life and by the strong combination of rough materials with metals. I also found her jewelry very poetic and feminine at the same time.
Tell us what it was like working with Gabriella Crespi. What did you learn from this collaboration?
It was an exciting experience! To pay tribute to an artist is a big challenge, but to receive her final approval on sketches (along with the feedback that it would be a success) is a great honor and a priceless experience. Gabriella taught me that strength is the essence of art and life as well.
The most standout pair of the capsule collection is definitely the pair of black-and-gold butterfly sandals. What is your favorite design from the collection?
In this capsule collection, I tried to interpret both the most essential and the most poetic side of Gabriella’s art. Consequently, my favorite pieces are the ‘Butterfly’ sandals as well, a tribute to her amazing and poetic filigree jewelry, and the ‘Yang Ying’ wedge, inspired by Gabriella’s ‘Yang Ying’ table – one of the strongest pieces she designed before retiring.
The Spring/Summer 2014 collection is characterized by geometric patterns, bright colors, and beautiful, multicolored beading. What was the inspiration behind this collection?
We like to call this collection ‘Italian Extravaganza’. It has become a tribute not only to Gabriella Crespi, but also to Italian design in the seventies. It’s a celebration of creativity, but also a collection inspired by the eclecticism of that decade, mixed with the brand’s heritage. Colors, materials, and embroideries combined with a high level of craftsmanship make every single shoe a special piece to celebrate Sergio Rossi’s passion for women.
When you are designing, what inspires you the most?
It’s different every time. Art and design, a book or a movie, an historical period or character, but also walking on the street or going on a trip can be the source of inspiration. Inspiration is a personal process, it involves emotions and cultural background. Let’s just say that anything that can turn on my imagination inspires me.
What makes a pair of shoes special?
Unique design, the right balance between comfort and creativity, and the highest level of quality.
Who are your favorite designers and how do they inspire your work?
I greatly appreciate Azzedine Alaïa for his capacity to translate products into unique pieces of art, and Charles Jourdan because he revolutionized women’s shoes, using new materials and advertising his products in fashion magazines. Alaïa inspires me to never stop, to continuously research, and to always find new ways of expression. Jourdan for me is really a pillar of craftsmanship in shoes and a valued reference for his distinctive style.
What is the one thing you think a woman should never leave home without?
I think that a woman should never leave home without perfume.
Any style tips for our readers?
My special tips to the readers of Savoir Flair would be: Do not be afraid to be daring, to always choose accessories perfectly in line with your personality, and to use the shoes not as a complement but as unique protagonists of your look.
If you could accessorize one woman in history (past or present), who would it be, and why?
Coco Chanel, for sure! Because of her natural sense of elegance and her unique acumen. Coco once said, “Less is more,” and I can’t imagine a more difficult exercise than creating something simple, pure, or interesting enough to catch her attention and to meet her unquestionable taste.
What can we expect for the next collection?
Lights and shadows, wonder and magic, poetry and drama… For next season, I have explored contrasts and I have set the whole collection in a dreamlike and surreal atmosphere, where shoes are the unique protagonists!
Click through the gallery above for a look at the Sergio Rossi Spring/Summer 2014 collection, inspired by Gabriella Crespi.
Photos: Courtesy of Sergio Rossi