BRINGING a personal touch to a fashion business that operates on a global platform is the Holy Grail for every label. Luckily for footwear designer Francesco Russo, his new Made To Order concession that opens in Harvey Nichols this week has afforded him the opportunity to do so and, as the designer told us, the contact it allows with his growing customer base is invaluable.
“When I first launched my collection I had a vision of how I wanted to target the business and my icons stretched back to the likes of Ferragamo in the Fifties – all the people creating couture with the shoes and having a relationship with clients,” Russo told us, explaining that’s why he only made his first collection available in his flagship Paris store in 2013. But, as his popularity soared and demand for his footwear resulted in a presence in over 40 retailers around the world, the connection with his customer started to wane.
“It became difficult to manage an open discussion with the client and to be able to give the client our service,” he continued. “With the new Made To Order service at Harvey Nichols, we can offer the client 11 of our classic styles in 20 of our different colours in a process that starts in the shop and then finishes in our factory in Italy which means we are always available to provide.”
And Harvey Nichols is more than happy to host the experience. The Knightsbridge department store will sell the designers entire spring/summer 2016 collection for the first time, as well as the Made To Order silhouettes, and has called the brand its most important new shoe brand of the season.
“With his exceptional talent and one-of-a-kind concept, Francesco Russo is one of the most sensational shoe designers to emerge in a long time,” said Harvey Nichols buyer Jasmin Sanya.
Russo, who was born in Puglia in Italy in 1974, is no stranger to high praise. Not only has his eponymous label garnered him the name “the sexy shoe designer” (as he puts it), but his past creations for previous employers have secured his reputation as one of the most pre-eminent designers of his generation. It was after honing his skills at Costume National and Miu Miu in Milan that he moved to Paris to join the YSL team where he created the infamous Cage Boot and Tribute Sandal – the reputation for which is hard to shake.
“I collaborate with brands and the first thing they want is another Tribute and I say, ‘You don’t know what that means,'” he laughed, explaining that making a cult shoe is not a prescriptive process. “Each shoe has an emotion and emotion is not rational. I design shoes to magnify the woman and to make the body move in a sublime way.”
So what does Russo deem to be a successful shoe? “It’s a success if she doesn’t take it off after one hour!”
Francesco Russo’s Made To Order collection is available alongside the brand’s spring/summer 2016 collection at Harvey Nichols now.