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Interviews Style

Francesco Russo’s Shoes That Seduce


Seduction is powerful. It involves knowing what you want, pursuing it unabashedly and practicing arts (flirtation, innuendo, body language, texting?) with the single-minded focus of obtaining that goal. For shoe designer Francesco Russo, designing follows a similar course. He crafts his sultry shoes for “the ones who seduce rather than being seduced.” (Russo references Carine Roitfeld and Lotta Volkova as contemporary muses.)

One look at Russo’s strongly sensual creations makes clear that the man knows how to beguile. We caught up with Russo to chat about his process from sketch to style, the power of heels and women. And if you’re in Chicago on September 23, you can meet the Italian master of customized leather patina pumps, works of art worthy of Venus herself, at Nordstrom Michigan Avenue.

What’s the best thing about the Paris headquarters of Francesco Russo?

I decided to become a shoe designer to be part of the transformation that happens when a woman puts on a pair of high heels. The atelier in Paris is both a place of reflection and a lounge where I can meet and open a dialogue with my clients about emphasizing their natural femininity and beauty. The Paris space represents both the beginning and the end of the process, and is the heart of the Francesco Russo story.

Francesco Russo shoes.

Francesco Russo’s Flame sandal 

Where do you keep your inspiration?

Since I live in three different countries—Paris, Italy and Switzerland—I have an itinerant mood board, a little black notebook where I keep everything that inspires me. I’ll immediately translate these musings into sketches.

Why sketch? 

It is the beginning of the creative process. Everything starts with a sketch.

Pages from Francesco Russo's sketchbook.


What are the key elements of the fall collection?

When I approach a new collection, I try to connect it to the previous one. Collections are chapters of a single, unique story that is my brand.  For this collection, I’m focusing on bright and primary colors, like purple and red, next to our classic nudes and natural color palettes. As for styles, over-the-knee, booties and high black pumps—all rigorously made in a soft nappa leather—next to our classic and iconic styles like the Flame sandal and the black Flame d’Orsay.

Shoe sketch by Francesco Russo.

Describe the essence of your brand in three words:

Feminine, sensual and pure.

What characteristics do you consider when designing for women? 

I’ve always been surrounded by women, both in my private life and in my team. I’ve grown up with women, my mother and my two sisters, whom I deeply respect and admire. Women are smart, extremely sensitive and exceptional multitaskers who can manage ten things at the same time without getting lost or stressed out. Those are the women I am attracted to: the ones who occupy a dynamic space in society, the ones who seduce rather than being seduced.

Sketchbook page of swatches.

Who’s your all-time style icon? 

There are so many style icons, all for different reasons: Jane Birkin for her effortless elegance, Monica Vitti for her strong sensuality, Jeanne Moreau for her impeccable style, Marilyn Monroe for her glamour, and so on. It is more difficult to find such women in our modern age. Contracts with fashion brands bind these women to a certain style, like living mannequins, and their personal identity is hard to find. Carine Roitfeld and recently, Lotta Volkova are two women who maintain their fashion personality and integrity.

Any plans for the weekend? 

My perfect Saturday—wherever I am—starts with an intense morning yoga session, a few hours in bed reading and watching movies with my dachshund, Aperitif, and ends with my closest friends over an intimate dinner.

Join us to celebrate the Nordstrom debut of the Francesco Russo collection at Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue, Saturday, September 23, from 1 to 4pm. Customers may meet the designer while shopping the fall 2017 collection of women’s shoes. Contact your sales associate for more details or to schedule an appointment.

SHOP: Francesco Russo