To showcase his debut collection of shoes, Fabrizio Viti decided to open the doors to his Parisian home on rue de Babylone, welcoming press and buyers to his personal space. “I designed 100 percent of my first and second collections here,” he says proudly. “That’s why I decided to present here too—it’s much easier to get in the mood!”
While this season marks the first collection for Fabrizio Viti under his own name, the veteran designer has been at it for years, with more than a decade designing footwear for Louis Vuitton, and Prada and Gucci before that. While he infuses his signature whimsy into all his creative pursuits, designing a collection all his own really allows his joie de vivre to shine through, and shine it does.
The collection—aptly titled “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies,” after the 1960s movie starring Doris Day—is executed in a playful palette of pastels and metallics with no shortage of gorgeous appliquéd daisies. Viti draws inspiration from the women he surrounds himself with—not just his business partners: sisters-in-law Gisela Niedzielski and System Magazine editor Alexia Niedzielski—but also the famous faces who adorn his walls in black and white and the impressive collection of iconic Barbie dolls that have a room of their own in his apartment.
Below, the charming designer explains why now felt right to launch the collection and how his space reflects his joyful point of view.
The Window: Tell us why, after so many years designing for Louis Vuitton, you decided it was the time to launch your own line of shoes?
Fabrizio Viti: It’s a very joyful moment in my life in general, and since Nicolas [Ghesquiere] arrived at LV there’s a great atmosphere. I’ve always been happy there, but he brings something different. In a way, now I’m more relaxed—maybe that’s not the right word, but I’m at ease. Since my work situation and my personal life are both feeling really great, it just felt like the right time. I wanted to communicate my sense of joy. It wasn’t like I launched this out of frustration of working for someone else—it was about feeling great and wanting to share that feeling.
What is the ethos of the brand?
The philosophy of my brand is something that comes from my heart and is spontaneous. These shoes aren’t made for a woman who needs to buy a new pair of shoes; she should fall in love with them. I have many women around me and listen to them a lot, and my idea is to create something for them to desire. I want them to feel better for buying and wearing these shoes. They aren’t designed to be overly sexy or for men’s pleasure—they are meant to be something a woman enjoys for herself. They’re made for women. At the same time, they’re comfortable. I work so hard on this. There’s nothing to fear about these shoes on the shelf, because they are easy to wear. It’s appealing to the eyes, and at the same time very wearable.
What attracts you to shoes? Why do you enjoy designing them?
I was born in Carrara, which is the town of marble in Italy. It’s a very small place, and it was only natural to study sculpture because of the strong connection to marble. I always view shoes as little sculptures, because it all starts with a shape—specifically the heel. To get the right heel, you have to work hard on the proportion, as you would on a little sculpture. And when you see the shoes around my apartment, they do seem like little sculptures! Shoes change the way people walk, and in some ways, it’s sort of a miracle. When you see a woman step into a shoe with a high heel and suddenly she carries herself in a new way—it’s magic.
How long have you been in this beautiful apartment? Tell us about the furniture and how it reflects your taste and style.
I moved here in 2008. I was looking for a place to buy, passed by an agency, saw a good-looking guy in the window, and thought, “He’ll find me the right apartment!” This was the first apartment he showed me. It was spontaneous! I didn’t know how historical the street was at the time. I tried to bring an Italian aesthetic here to Paris. The apartment is very classically Parisian, so it was fun to fill it with furniture from a different place and different aesthetic. I love furniture from the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, especially Gio Ponti. He can do a fork, a church, or a building, and it’s all beautiful. My friend Nina Yashar, from the gallery Nilufar in Milan, specializes in that kind of furniture, and I worked with her on decorating by choosing pieces that I love. I tried to create the sort of environment that can fulfill my need to be inspired.
What about all the gorgeous black and white images on the walls?
My collection is mostly actresses from the ‘60s. When I walk in, it’s very easy for me to be inspired by the surroundings because I created them—it’s the place I want to be. I like to reference these images, but the thing is that in most of them, you can’t see the feet—instead, I get to imagine what the woman would wear. Brigitte Bardot is a major reference, but she was always barefoot! It’s about what she could be wearing…
Do you always work from home?
I work in my bedroom at the desk. I designed the entire first and second collections here. The pictures on the wall and the furniture reflect the mood of the shoes. We have business meetings here sitting on the carpet, and it’s easy to grab books or colors for inspiration. Of course, when we grow, we will need an office, and when we do, it will feel similar.
Let’s talk about those dolls! When did you start collecting? What draws you to vintage Barbies?
It started when I was 3 years old, and I saw a 1971 Barbie and fell in love. In a way, she was a 3D version of women I was seeing on TV and in magazines. Also, Barbie is the first model you can get as a designer. A piece of toilet paper or your sister’s old socks with holes can suddenly become something Barbie can wear! She is a model you can have all the time; she’s always with me, and she’s always ready to dress up. I played with them all the time. Honestly, I think the ‘70s were less conservative than now—my family never questioned why I was playing with dolls. It was a really openminded time back then. I remember taking Barbie to a very crowded beach, and nobody looked twice. I think that freedom was a positive influence.
At some point in the ‘90s, I started collecting vintage ones, especially early ‘50s and ‘60s. I got into her wardrobe too, and it’s a wonderful reflection of what was happening in fashion at the time. I love that they are beautiful in a classic way, and I play with them to get inspired. And, of course, if you see my shoes, they aren’t made for dolls at all, but the same joy shines through. I have the same fun playing with the dolls as I do designing the shoes. It’s about a sense of being happy and doing what you love, even if people think you’re crazy!
Your shoes and space certainly do feel happy. Does this collection set the tone for what’s to come for Fabrizio Viti?
The collection is always a work in progress and the inspiration is always growing and changing, but I always want to retain that sense of joy. This first collection was so important because it has become the first and main reference for my brand. The heels, the black detailing, and unexpected elements—all of these are going be consistent. They all reference the past that I love but are modern and intended for today.