‘The shoes do the talking.’
Stepping out with Fabrizio Viti, the discreet but daring shoe designer behind everyone (like Gucci, Prada, Helmut Lang, Louis Vuitton…).
Interview by Pamela Golbin, images by Thomas Lohr and Thibault Montamat.
Fabrizio Viti has worked and learned, and been an inspiration behind the scenes at the biggest French and Italian houses, creating shoes for the likes of Tom Ford, Miuccia Prada, Helmut Lang, and while at Louis Vuitton, Nicolas Ghesquière and Marc Jacobs.
For System No. 8, he invited us to discuss his new side project: designing – for the first time – under his own name. Below is just one of the many anecdotes he has from years spent working with other labels before launching his own.
‘Back in 1998, when I was called by Gucci, I was so excited to be in the same room as Tom Ford and Carine Roitfeld, who was always wearing a black pencil skirt and stiletto heels. The first show I worked on with Tom Ford was Spring/Summer 1999, what we called the Hippie collection. It was super successful and also my first experience of a major show. After all the years spent in factories, Gucci was my first step into the glamorous world of fashion.
Gucci was known for very aggressive high heels, but that season, Tom wanted to do something different. So the heel was very, very small, round and embroidered. It had a very Indian feeling. You know, that fabric with little mirrors? He was looking for that effect. We were already set up in the Corso Venezia showroom in Milan, which meant the show was five days away. The problem was that we couldn’t find the fabric. I had an idea and asked Tom to lend me his driver. It was pouring with rain and I went to all of the Indian restaurants in the Porta Venezia area of Milan. It took me a while, but I finally found the fabric. It was covering the wall of a restaurant. I calculated the measurements and said, ‘Yeah, we can do one pair of boots’. But the owner couldn’t understand what I wanted. I tried to explain to him that if he took the fabric from the wall, I would pay him for it! All the while I was calling the people at Gucci asking, ‘How much can I pay?’ And they were like, ‘Whatever! Just get it!’ Finally, he agreed to sell, took it down and dusted it. I rushed back. It was all multicoloured with little mirrors. Two days later, it came back from the factory as these beautiful boots.
During the fitting a few days later, Tom comes to me with the boots and says, ‘Fabrizio, can we dye them black?’ And that was the beginning of ‘Fabrizio, can we…?’ Since then ‘Fabrizio, can we…?’ has become like a leitmotif. I was like, ‘Sure’. I took a brush and the paint and a day later they were black. It was the beginning of a certain kind of attitude, which I keep today, where everything is possible. If you cannot find it there, you will find it somewhere else.’
More, from Viti’s time working with Miuccia Prada and Louis Vuitton, in System No. 8 – Click to buy