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Sergio Rossi Creative Director Francesco Russo Puts His Best Foot Forward

For 50 years and counting, Sergio Rossi has been synonymous with shoes that are show-stoppingly sexy, unexpected (are those rope laces on that four-inch stiletto?), flattering and even—gasp!—comfortable. Now, with the spring 2012 launch of the company’s first men’s collection, we wondered how the brand’s core characteristics would translate. Francesco Russo, Creative Director at Sergio Rossi since October 2008, shares how he’s “instilling new vigor into the language of men’s footwear” by giving it a stylish kick in the pants.

Barneys New York: Tell us about the new men’s collection.
Francesco Russo:  I have analyzed the mutable, multi-form nature of the contemporary man and gradually transformed the extreme elegance of formal footwear into glam-rock bursts of comfortable casual shoes.

How does it stand out against other men’s footwear brands?
Sergio Rossi celebrates Italian elegance [and brings to it] chic modern flair. The Sergio Rossi man looks elegant without being a “slave to fashion.” The key is effortless elegance.

Was there a particular guiding force for the men’s spring line?
For casual footwear I would say that a bohemian inspiration sets the mood—a new, relaxed elegance combines with the informal style of comfortable driving shoes or soft espadrilles. More intense, Latin rhythms define new silhouettes of traditional forms where intricate studded details alternate with curved heels inspired by the world of tango.

If you could choose three men—past or present—to wear these shoes, who would they be?
From the past: Steve McQueen and Marcello Mastroianni. From the present: Adrien Brody and Louis Garrel.

Do you have a personal favorite style?
My personal must-have is the Oxford Vintage. I love it because it is perfect for every outfit!

Sergio Rossi is known as such a sexy collection for women. How does that element translate (or not) to the men’s collection?
I personally think that sexy men do not have to show off their beauty! The real sexy man is the one who has an effortless elegance.


What about the women’s spring line—what was the inspiration?
I was mainly inspired by [Nobuyoshi] Araki’s artworks, and I have [imagined his images] in a summer destination such as Hawaii. It has been a kind of high-tension clash—erotic meets exotic! I have created a relationship that merges the shoe and the body—bondage effects, ropes of silk or elastic winding like snakes around the leg.

What is one of your favorite shoes from the women’s collection?
The Opanca Sandal, a bondage-style silk elastic strap ankle boot.

What trends in footwear are you most excited about right now?
I do not really believe in trends. I am more attracted by the idea of style. The style is the only thing that can transform a person and a brand!

On a more personal note, summer is around the corner! Any travel plans or summer traditions you are looking forward to?
I will for sure spend a few days in Puglia, where I grew up. I have just bought an ancient masseria [a country estate found in the Puglia region] and I am renovating it. I am so excited about this new project! After that I am going to spend two weeks in Linosa [an island near Sicily], where I can be fully absorbed by the sea.

How can we find you spending a perfect Saturday this summer?
In Puglia, in the garden of the masseria, at the shadow of an ancient olive tree reading a book and playing with my two dogs.

Next, Russo fills us in on his 8 summer essentials for a Mediterranean holiday…

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