"Introducing an emerging designer creating captivating leather fashions."
NEW TYPE #11: LODOVICO ZORDANAZZO INTERVIEW
TWELV Magazine sat down with Lodovico Zordanazzo during his NYC visit to discuss his new collection and unique perspective on shoe design.
Originally from Italy, Zordanazzo attended the Istituto Marangoni in Milan where he studied Fashion Design before moving to London. After working in the footwear industry and honing his skills, he launched his very own collection, placing emphasis on his love for high quality, ornamental, and innovative designs. Three seasons ago he launched his shoe collection and continues to expand his brand with hopes of encompassing ready-to-wear and accessories, in addition to shoes. Like his shoes, Lodovico is an interesting, eclectic, and charming personality who draws inspiration for his unique personal style and design aesthetic from all sorts of unexpected sources, including his current city, London.
--- LODOVICO ZORDANAZZO INTERVIEW ---
1. So, you grew up in Italy? Growing up, was there something that appealed to you about fashion/design and/or construction that led you to shoes specifically?
My first impressions of fashion, well, my first memory that I have of fashion is from my mother. My mother started to work late because she divorced when I was two years old, so I was always going to school until very late in the afternoon. When she would come to pick me up at school, when I was in middle school, she was working a lot and she had all of these fabulous work outfits. She was wearing lots of tailored suits. She always had polished nails, blown out hair, so that was really fun and nice to watch it. I remember the first pair of shoes from when I was young. A pair of open toe shoes with a big, thick heel and I remember thinking “oh my God, these shoes are so high” and I’m looking at them now because I found them in my mother’s house and I said “oh my God, this is like a two inch heel, this is like a kitten heel now”. Also a pair of white, lace Valentino pumps, they were beautiful. I always liked seeing her dressing up, it might sound boring or cliché but that’s how it worked. I was really young so I didn’t know much and that’s the first thing that I can remember about fashion. I’ve always been into art and fashion because my high school was focused on publicity and marketing so I was always doing something connected to that, and after high school, I started fashion design.
2. You studied in Italy?
Yes, in Milan, in Marangoni and then I moved to London. I also did different short courses at Central St. Martin College of Fashion. I did different things, I did couture tailoring, I did patterning for cutting, shoe design, I did makeup for fashion, because I wanted to experience everything. I like shoes a lot, I love accessories, but I also love ready to wear, and jewelry.
3. So why did you choose to launch a collection of shoes?
Well, they were always my strong topic, strong obsession. My dream is to have a complete collection of shoes, bags, accessories, ready-to-wear one day, hopefully.
4. What was your first job in Fashion? What was your first job outside of fashion?
My first job was as merchandiser and buyer for a boutique in London. I started as a visual merchandiser for this boutique; the concept was based on selling only Italian products. After doing the windows and the merchandising, they asked me if I was interested in doing the buying as well, of course I was interested, so I started to do the buying. My first job outside of fashion was actually working for my father when I was about 14 years old. He has a company that doesn’t have anything to do with fashion at all. I was registering invoices, those sorts of things, doing something too serious for me at the time. He works with oil and machineries, so not really my cup of tea. I need to be in a more colorful environment to feel like myself.
5. Could you describe your personal style?
My personal style, I will describe it as eclectic, colorful, elegant, and well tailored. I love tailoring for men and women. I always wear a blazer. Actually, when I was growing up, I had a very close auntie, one of my father’s seven sisters. One of them was my favorite one, and she was a tailor. She’s the one who introduced me into the tailoring world. She made my first shirt and since then, boom. She also designed my Barbie’s outfits, so that was really fascinating.
6. Since moving to London, do you feel your style, approach to designing, and aesthetic has changed with your new location?
Well, it grew, for sure. When I started to do my own collection, at first I was working with more shapes, styling what was really working for me and then, season by season, I’ve been changing. At the beginning I was doing things with suede or calf nothing too extravagant. Now I use leather, plastic, PVC, metallic pieces, feathers, and furs. I love living in London because it’s an eclectic city, it’s cultural, and it’s always moving.
7. Do you find that the women in London look for different things when they’re buying shoes, than a woman in New York?
For sure, yes. In London, they are more open-minded with new things. They are also more colorful, more so than compared to New York. New York is more like flats, same height of heels, nice and simple, not that that this is bad. In Italy, in Milan, people dress very well, but still flats not too much heel height. I think they’re more reserved. I love the style here in New York. I prefer London, New York, and Paris, to Italy.
8. Tell me about your creative process. Where do you start when you’re designing a shoe?
My inspiration is always very different. I get inspired from art, interior design, and when I travel. I’m lucky that I get to travel quite a lot, so I see a lot of different things and I put them together. I find an inspiration that I want to focus on first that applies to my current styles and to the new design as well. I start with the concept and I do a lot of research for materials and new techniques that I can use for my collection. Then after I do the research, I have a big selection of materials that I cut down to do what I want to use and then I apply those materials to the designs I have in mind. I go then go to get samples produced. I see if the samples work, then if they work I have my new design. I was actually at the mall and I saw the escalator coming down and they were making a movement at the bottom that’s a very interesting shape, so I took a picture and I developed that into a shoe and that’s how the shoe came out.
9. Where do you draw your inspiration?
Museums, music, even walking on the street, if I see something thatI’m fascinated by, like for example, this shoe, the inspiration was my love ofOrchids. I love flowers and I’ve always had orchids in my house and I thought, hmm, this flower is very interesting, why don’t I give life to the flower and make it into a sort of origami metallic piece that can be an accessory, so that’s how it started with this shoe, for example. I love the art from the 19th century, it’s really interesting. For the new collection, I got some style ideas from Jeff Koons, in terms of coloring and the finishing of the metallic accessories. I’m going to do color blocks; I’m going to color the metallic pieces the same color as the shoe. Also, the color range I’ve picked out is more like late 70’s disco music. Gold, lamé, and all sorts of materials and fabrics for the next collection.
10. What kind of materials do you enjoy working with the most?
Well, I don’t have an obsession for a particular material. I like to experiment with different materials, for sure. I’m more focused on more like interesting or fancy materials, more technical materials I might say. I love metals and accessories on the shoes to make it more polished. I call this “lighter heel”, it was inspired by my lighter from Cartier. It’s interesting because this heel goes inside the sole, so the sole it’s like part of the old shoe and it’s very clean, and look from the back, you don’t see the sole, right? That’s my signature heel for sure. Even though the end the shoes that sell are the most plain, I don’t mind.
I think that most people, they want to have something that works with a lot of things, so the more crazy the shoe is, I think the less easy it is to wear, on a daily basis. If you wear it once every now and then, you can go crazy and do whatever you want. That’s why I think here in New York it’s more focused on black, burgundy, very simple colors. I mean I personally love black as well. When I present my collection, I offer my clients every single shoe in a variety of colors that they want, so black, beige and the basic colors are always available and it’s up to the client to buy it in the color they want. I’m lucky because so far they’ve always bought the most interesting ones. That means they appreciate my taste and designs, rather than going for a simple pump, which is safer.
11. Do you ever find that you abandon a design?
Most of the time when you design, especially for shoes, something too crazy, it needs to work in a functional and wearable way. So that’s a problem that often happens, but you always find a solution to fix it. I have a very good team, so they help me as well. I would say this happens to one shoe out of ten, maybe out of eight shoe designs. Also because of the height of the heel, the shoe needs to be comfortable and walkable, otherwise, whoever wears them is going to complain and die afterwards if she falls..nah, I’m joking.
12. What do you think are elements of a good shoe design?
Well, quality at first, quality is very important, materials as well, the manufacturer, too. Quality and then the aesthetic creativity, but that depends on each designer and also depends on the style of the client that’s going to buy the product. My shoes are very strong, feminine, glamorous, sexy, so that’s a very specific woman. A strong woman, that’s an urban woman, independent, as well. I like to think that my shoes can work for someone who wants to empower themselves, feel more confident. It can be sexy; it can be more daywear, too, if the heel is not very high. The new collection I’m working on, they will have different heel heights. So I’m designing a flat, I’m designing a lower heel, and of course a high heel, to make it easier for everyone.
13. Do you think that by having a range of heel heights you’ll have a wider customer base?
For sure. I started to do super high heels because that’s my passion but then I couldn’t focus on doing different heights because in the beginning it’s very expensive. You have to level off different heights, because the shoe is structured to work with a specific heel height. For a pair of shoes you have to create the last, you have to have the sole, the insole in order to put the shoes together. So that’s why at the beginning, the first season, I’ve always been doing the same height.
14. What’s the most rewarding and challenging aspect of what you do?
Seeing the shoe finished and loving it. I’m very lucky that I’m good with visualizing so when I design something I do a sketch and I can see it finished. Most of the time it comes out the way I like it, that’s very rewarding. It’s also very rewarding seeing someone with my shoes on, I must say. I think more actually with a non-celebrity. When I’m walking on the street and see someone with my shoes on, that’s really good, even though they don’t know I designed them. It’s really flattering, because I can see they’re enjoying them. The challenging part, well, it’s always a challenge to design a collection. Trying to unlock the retail market, but I like the challenge, so that doesn’t scare me.
15. Do you think there’s such a thing as an ugly shoe?
I wouldn’t say there’s an ugly shoe because each person has different taste, so I wouldn’t call them ugly, I would call it not a shoe that I would like or pick personally. Actually, recently, like six months ago, my neighbor who knows I’m a fashion designer, she bumped into me, she came out of her apartment and said, “look at these shoes that I just bought, they’re amazing, right?” And I didn’t know what to say so I said “yes, very interesting”, not my personal taste but there’s something that I like as well, it would be boring if everyone had the same taste.
16. How do you see the future of shoe design?
Oh God, um, I don’t believe I’ve seen different designers trying to make the shoes adjustable in terms of height, and you know that those shoes you can detach the heel and make it shorter. I don’t really believe that’s going to work because if someone buys shoes, they buy them because they like it and if they want something else, they go and buy something else. So I don’t think that’s going to be a future of the shoe. Technology is now getting very involved in the shoe industry. I would like lights, new materials, and I’m sure that will be coming out, in the future. For now, it’s very expensive.
High heels will always remain a strong point for women’s shoes. I’ve seen a lot of women aren’t wearing heels anymore, but that’s also related to the economy as well, of course. But I think there’s always a market for extravagant and beautiful things.
17. For you, what’s the difference between designing men and women’s shoes?
Well, with men you can be more classic and you can wear much more with men, but it’s a little bit more conservative. Generally speaking, most men, they wear very classic shoes or sneakers, even loafers. They’re very I wouldn’t say plain, I would say reserved. So I did designs one season, a little classic collection for men, but it was very eclectic, it was very colorful. I used PVC, leopard print, studs, so it’s very much my style of being funkier. The men’s collection was actually received well by women; they said. But I understand that people that don’t work in fashion and have more conservative jobs obviously they can’t go crazy with their shoes.
18. What do you enjoy doing for fun?
I like to go out for dinner to experience different food. That’s why I love living in London. When I moved to London, I think I ate Italian twice because I’m always back in Italy for work and I eat Italian food there. I love French food, Chinese food, Thai food. I like to live in a very active city. I live in the center of London, so it’s very busy, lots of tourists, and lots of people walking by. When it’s too quiet, it drives me crazy. When I first moved to London, a good thing was being able to look outside the windows and see people walking on the street. You know when you move to a big city, in the beginning it’s always a little more difficult because you don’t know people, you don’t know what to do, so even looking out the windows was nice. I like to go everywhere to see different things, different people. I have so many different types of friends. I don’t like to be stuck in the same place and do the same things all the time, that’s really boring for me.
I love the theater, musicals, ballet, and operas. When I moved to London, I started to go to musicals, more so than theater because in Italy we don’t really have lots of musicals.
19. What new projects are you working on?
I’m almost done with the collection, for Spring/Summer 17. I’m finalizing it now, because I would like to present it earlier in the season. The inspiration for this collection, as I said before, is like late 70’s, beginning of 80’s disco music. I’ve been inspired by Grace Jones, David Bowie, and Jeff Koons. The colors are very strong in terms of color blocks, they’re shiny pieces, also keeping the flowers, which are sort of a signature piece, but changing it slightly and making it more fun and colorful. I want to now develop the collection with different heights and more colors. I would love to start to do a men’s collection again, and I’m really focusing on expanding in the American market.
INTERVIEWED & WRITTEN BY: ARDEN PICKOFF RAFFERTY
PHOTOGRAPHY: CHIAKI KATO