Shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti jetted into Los Angeles yesterday to celebrate the launch of his latest capsule collection with singer (and sometime actress) Rita Ora at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. “Music has always been at the center of my design ethos,” said Zanotti, who also has designed collections with Jennifer Lopez and Zayn Malik. “When I was young, I used to be a DJ on a local Italian radio station in the Seventies. I loved the Philadelphia sound and soul music.”
The collaboration came about quite organically for the pair, as Ora had been a longtime fan of Zanotti, who in turn had designed custom shoes for the “Let You Love Me” singer’s recent British tour. “Creating something together was a no- brainer for me, as I have been a Zanotti fan for so long,” said Ora. “The process was so easy and really quick, because we were on the same page.”
Using Ora’s personal jewelry collection (in which heavy gold Cuban link chains loom large) as a starting point, the two embarked on a creative process over the course of several months to design a range of stiletto sandals, over-the-knee and peep-toe boots, slides and slip-on flats. “We spent a couple of days together working with materials and then sent sketches and pictures and prototypes back and forth,” said Zanotti, who is known for his high-wattage, super-sexy styles.
“I really wanted to adapt the gold factor into accessorizing the shoes; we really just duplicated pieces of my jewelry,” said Ora of the gold chain heel and trim that became the defining element of the Giuseppe for Rita Ora collection.
“The chain is very symbolic of power and balances the more delicate elements of the shoes and creates harmony, which of course is a part of music, too,” said Zanotti, who listened to Ora’s hits “Alone Together” and “Girls” while he was working on the designs.
“For me, it also started with the attitude,” said Ora, who has collaborated with other brands including Adidas and Escada in the past and also has her own clothing line, Roara Republic. “I really wanted this sense of freedom and never second guessing to stand out. And also I wanted to keep it fun.”
Zanotti agreed, picking up the flame red satin Elinor knee-high boots with a a cutout ankle and statement heel: “This collection is fun and cool, it’s not about a runway look in Paris. Pushed down, [this boot] is like sexy streetwear; pulled high it looks completely different. They can be worn from Coachella to the Cannes red carpet. They are very versatile.”
Ora, who was wearing a pair of the Bonnie transparent vinyl and black patent leather heeled sandals, which retail at $895, pointed to the flats as one of her favorite styles, “I’m going to put those on to wear to the airport,” she said. “Those white leather, chain detail ankle-strap sandals are the kind of thing I would wear on the red carpet.”
When it came to the technical side of designing, a lot of thought was given to comfort — insofar as five inch heels can be comfortable. “The chains are made of aluminum and then painted gold to try and keep them lighter,” Zanotti explained. “We also take a lot of care with the fitting and the stability of the heel. But the over-the-knee boots (with gold-tone chain trims) are dynamite because they are super strong.”
Ora chimed in: “That is the pair I would perform in. That’s the superstar shoe for me!”
Prices range from $795 for the flats to $2,495 for the boots, with select styles on the Giuseppe Zanotti website and the limited-edition collection in Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom stores.
“I wanted to create a series of styles that represents the three different facets of Rita: glamor, effortlessness and cool,” said Zanotti of the ultimately fashion-forward seven-piece collection made from polished leather, textured suede and rich silk-satin.
“I really feel like this collection is me,” said Ora. “It’s authentic, the attitude is there, the colors are there. I feel like we’ve made it very chic, but very approachable with some of the street girl still in there.”
In other words, Zanotti added: “This collection has a lot of character.”