A year on since Walter Chiapponi’s appointment as the creative director of Tod’s, he has reintroduced sensuality into the quintessential codes of the Italian luxury brand. Previously defined by moccasins and impeccably crafted leather footwear, Tod’s now sees a renewed appreciation for the high heel at Chiapponi’s helm.
Throughout fashion history, the high heel has been celebrated, fetishised, glamorised and demonised all at once. Speaking to Vogue, the footwear maestro shares his design approach to the timeless staple.
Could you tell us a little more about your design language? What informs and inspires your shoe designs?
Generally speaking, l am always inspired by people on the street. I’m very curious about how they combine different looks and how they mix them in unexpected ways. I have always loved the culture of Italian buon gusto (which literally translates to ‘good taste’). Especially when it comes to menswear, I love seeing how Italian men really care about little details, such as a haircut or a perfectly brushed shoe.
In your opinion, what makes a good high heel?
To do a good high heel shoe is a complicated project. For this autumn/winter style, I started with the shape and had in mind a very high and slim heel but with a strong character. I then worked on the volumes of the toe, emphasizing them trying to assemble the perfect pump. And finally, I wanted to extrapolate the idea of a moccasin, which is an iconic style for Tod’s by adding a very raw front seam, which brings the shoe a more masculine edge.
The high heel has been both celebrated and fetishised but remains central to the iconography of sexiness, power and modern femininity. What were you trying to convey in your shoe designs for this collection?
For my first collection for Tod’s, it was important to emphasize my point of view: apart from being a fascinating design object, high heels bring a sensual attitude to any look. It was this very sensuality that I talked a lot in this collection—a different female approach to the very traditional, very Italian lifestyle of the brand. I gathered a rather broad pool of imagery surrounding footwear for my first collection. I looked to a multitude to references, one for every type of shoe: from the white calfskin pump to the preppiest moccasin with a metal chain; or the Beatles, a high boot with the heavy masculine sole and finally the sneaker, a lighter interpretation of a model with references to the ’70s.
How has COVID-19 influenced your approach to shoe design?
Certainly, my approach will change post-COVID. I’ve already noticed a shift in the way I see shoe design, particularly as I was working on our spring/summer 2021 collection. There is more attention on having just a few strong and precise messages—I obsessively take care of the study of the details of craftsmanship and the processing of hides. We return to a more ‘atelier’ and exclusive approach. To me, an awareness of sustainability and values related to the environment and society will now lead my approach in this period of ‘restarting’.
Finally, what do you want people to feel when they wear your designs?
Instinctively, I hope they feel happy to wear an accessory that speaks of tradition, as well as of Italian lifestyle and refinement.