Angelo Ruggeri of Sergio Rossi talks shoes, frocks and Sicily
The collection and design director of Sergio Rossi talks about how time and maturity have made a difference to his design philosophy, and why he would love to visit Rio de Janeiro
"My family's relationship with fashion spans generations. My grandmother was a seamstress, my mother a teacher and my father used to own a store for fabrics which he inherited from my grandfather. So it's a long family story involving fabrics, fashion and couture.
One of my favourite memories has to do with my grandmother. I remember a fancy embroidered black evening dress that she made for one of her clients, who was attending a fashion event. You can imagine with these influences that by the age of six, I already aspired to be part of the fashion world.
My home, Sicily, has a special energy and colour. It's something that I express unconsciously through my style. It's an island culture full of archaeological sites, art and influences from different countries.
When I left school, I was more interested in creating clothes with special effects. When people start work, their immediate goal is to make something new and innovative. But now that I have matured with time, I understand that everything in fashion has already been done.
My key focus now is to give my personal perspective and explore different sources of inspiration in a more balanced way. I'm not as worried about trying to create strange designs or impressing people. It's more about being clean and communicating with clarity.
Before taking on my current role as collection and design director for Sergio Rossi, I worked for Giorgio Armani and Tom Ford. These two companies were different to Sergio Rossi because they are focused predominantly on ready-to-wear, whereas my focus now is on shoes.
I was very young when I was responsible for helping to create Giorgio Armani's ready-to-wear collections. Later, in 2005, these responsibilities extended to include the couture collection. It was interesting because it was my first professional experience with fashion design. I really admire Mr Armani, who has great discipline and is a master of understatement and clean design.
In a way, my past experiences with Giorgio Armani and Tom Ford were fundamental because they helped me develop an aesthetic vision.
Although my focus right now is only on shoes, my background in ready-to-wear has given me a full picture that is not only about creating great products, but also about communicating a lifestyle through other touch points such as images, how products are styled and so forth.
When I was working for Tom Ford, I was approached by the CEO of Sergio Rossi in 2012 to return to the company as head designer. Taking the opportunity meant I had the chance of putting together my personal aesthetic vision for the brand. This is any designer's dream.
Sergio Rossi is first and foremost an Italian company, so the company is a great ambassador of the Italian lifestyle and has special meaning to me. For me, it is about beauty, a high level of craftsmanship and Italian culture.
It's also really close to women's needs and wants, so our company's decision to create a bridal collection was a natural evolution. On their wedding day, women need to wear shoes that are very neutral, very simple and in the same fabric as the wedding gown.
As a company, we cannot ignore how important the bridal market is, and decided to enter with a small capsule collection. Now it's expanded to include a more and more substantial collection that sits with our iconic shoes like the Godiva.
My dream wedding would include simple dresses, with elegant, chic designs rather than anything too romantic. Clean and pure designs are always the best solutions - with beautiful fabrics and lace, of course.
When it comes to creativity, inspiration is very personal and not something that can be rationally explained. You cannot say that you are inspired purely by this or that, because inspiration is something that ignites your imagination by chance. It's always under construction.
One of the most curious and unexpected instances where I have been inspired happened when I was looking out the window of a plane. I was admiring the countryside, where I saw beautiful patches of land cultivated in different ways. That inspired me to try a technique combining different pieces of leather in different colours. This happened while I was working for Tom Ford, so the look eventually became part of one of the looks in his London show in 2012.
Because of my job responsibilities I'm always on the go. But if I had to visit one new place, it would be Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. I imagine that it's a place full of families, colour, and funny things to do. In my mind it's very similar to Sicily, so I want to discover another side of this attitude towards life. I know very well the Italian side so now I'd love to discover the Brazilian version."
As told to Daniel Kong