Stuart Weitzman's Giovanni Morelli Talks the Making of an 'It' Bag, Fall Collection

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Giovanni Morelli and Solange

"I don’t believe in a sculpture that you cannot wear. I think in America, you have a sense of a more realistic use of objects."

As the creative genius behind some of the most coveted accessories on the luxury market (he's left a trail of 'It' bags behind him at renowned houses like Loewe, Marc Jacobs and Chloe), Giovanni Morelli is a man that should need no introduction. And yet, despite his impressive résumé, he's still the second "Giovanni Morelli" to pop up in a Google search, behind the 19th century art critic of the same name. 

As of the past few months, however, Morelli (the living person, not the late critic) has been working his way up the Google search ranks thanks to the buzz around his new role as the new creative director of Stuart Weitzman, where he's taken over for the New York-based accessories label's namesake, who stepped down last year.

Morelli is bringing his craftsmanship and his eye for the 'It' bag-factor to the American heritage brand that was acquired by Tapestry Inc. (formerly Coach Inc.) in 2017, all without busting the label's relatively affordable price point (most shoes are less than $500) or altering its focus on comfort. 

On Thursday afternoon, Morelli presented his first two collections for Stuart Weitzman, a pre-fall and fall offering consisting of a wide range sneakers, boots and elevated eveningwear — including an updated version of the brand's classic red-carpet favorite the Nudist — as well as the new Shoebox clutch, available both in black and the new Stuart Weitzman signature hue, blue violet.

THR caught up with the designer (clad in his famous yellow-tinted aviator glasses) to chat about his new gig. 

Tell me about your first collection for Stuart Weitzman.

Here are two collections — a bit of pre-fall and a bit of fall. One complements the other. We started the pre-collection with the idea of artwork to get a sense of identity and a sense of point of view to everything. There’s a mix, an eclecticism.

For example, for the Nudist [sandal] — a classic — we started to play with artwork so we can add a new generation. And going into fall, we focused on colder weather — we have the rock sole and the heavier fur and a sneaker — and we also have a more feminine part — very colorful and more vibrant. These are the two complementary parts.

I’ve heard you say that you think it’s important to keep the DNA of the Stuart Weitzman brand alive. How do you define what that DNA is and what you want to shine through in your designs?

The DNA is a certain comfort, which I think is very important. A sense of craftsmanship and also a sense of reality — every shoe can be worn. I don’t believe in a sculpture that you cannot wear. I think in America, you have a sense of a more realistic use of objects. It’s more realistic — the sense of the use is important to keep, as well as a sense of the price point, which has to be very balanced with a sense of fashion, aesthetic and quality.

How has your process changed, if at all, designing for Stuart Weitzman, compared to higher-priced brands like Loewe or Marc Jacobs?

Every brand is different. Even when I joined some of the brands that you mentioned, they were not exactly as they are now. Every brand evolves. I think Stuart Weitzman, to me, is a very beautiful opportunity to have a platform of expression and to do a shoe that we’ve never done. But always with a sense of reality. This I think is very important, especially because we’re an accessory brand. We don’t have ready-to-wear. Sometimes when brands have ready-to-wear, they have a huge platform with a fashion show and they suggest a silhouette or something. We don’t [have that], so the product has to speak by itself.

Tell me about the signature shoebox bag, which may have the first dot-com logo I've ever seen!   

It’s a bit ironic because it’s an idea that comes from packaging and also a way to start a conversation for bags for a shoe brand. I was like, "Why not?" So we made it like a clutch and added “" The reality is we have a logo without it being a logo because we have the hardware on top. So you recognize the mix.

What makes an “It” bag? Is there a common thread you’ve noticed?

I don’t know. Really, I don’t know! Honestly, when I start to work at Marc, frankly it was a coincidence. We never thought, “Oh, we have to make the ‘It’ bag.”

There was another moment when you saw logos everywhere, and we wanted to make a sexy bag — sexy in the attitude. We just started to do whatever we liked and people responded. It was very important because they become trophy bags. You can be dressed as whatever, but you have the bag. Now it’s a different era again because everyone has a lot of bags.

But again, every brand had a different profile. Here, I used hardware, which is something that will start to be relevant for the brand. We have to do product that is just appealing on its own — without ready-to-wear.

Tell me about choosing this blue violet as the new signature color.

Frankly, I’m intuitive. Sometimes I like stuff and I don’t know why. I liked the color, we made the color, we did the tile and it became the color. 

I saw that you used it through the redesigned Beverly Hills store on Rodeo Drive.

Yes, exactly. In reality, the blue violet is like fil rouge [a guiding thread], from the store to the packaging to shoes, that becomes like a signature.