I love working with people who love their craft.
The pride they put in to their work, and the knowledge they impart. The passion involved when representing their art.
Those feelings are why, when looking for people to work with, to make great quality, beautiful women’s shoes; I had to come to Italy.
It was so important for me that the heel to be an indelible element to the design of the shoe, so I chose to search for artisans that had stuck in the mind of people I trust.
Arnold, my friend from college, had recently designed for Loewe and Calvin Klein, developing shoes in Italy. He was to be the trusted man to put me in the right direction… “Arnold, who’s the best heel maker in Italy?”… “Monti”.
Straight forward question, straight forward answer!
I first made contact at Lineapelle, the trade fair I go to every year in Milan.
It was another reminder that I really must master the Italian language, especially with the amount of time I’ve spent there. It’s getting better. Slow and steady would be the right description.
After a short ‘conversation’, I was put in contact with Andrea. When we later met, it was clear to us both that we’d been put together due to my poor Italian and his perfect English. His wife is from the North of England, so he understood my northern accent more than most!
They’re a short train journey out of Bologna, weaving through the hills and tunnels… and getting off the train at Pian di Venola. Each time I visit, I take the opportunity to sit on the veranda of the cafe opposite, enjoy a cappuccino and enjoy the view of the hills. It’s important to appreciate the little moments.
Andrea was fabulously friendly and helpful… I explained my concept, and he walked me through the factory toward the workshop where he introduced me to the capable hands of Alessandro; the man that was to craft my heel prototype.
I must admit to feeling rather privileged, while calmly excited, to be creating my ideas with them; the best in their field.
With sketches shown, conversations had, time taken to sculpt, to shape… and advice given by the master craftsman Maurizio (introduced as OB1 to Alessandro’s Luke)… a few hours later, the prototype was ready.
The craftsmen; Alessandro and Maurizio.
When walking through the factory, I’d briefly been introduced to the boss; Gabriele Monti – seen at the top of the post with his father Carlo on the left.
If I remember rightly, I think I even bowed as I shook his hand.
Thankfully, that brief meeting must have gone well, as I later learned that I’d been approved to work with; a step I’d not been aware of.
The finished mould and Filippo.
Over the coming months, while liaising with Andrea at first, then Filippo to take the heel from prototype to fully fledged proper mould, I’ve always felt hugely grateful to the people at Monti for indulging me with their expertise, welcoming my frequent visits, and happily posing for the camera.
Not forgetting I now have a beautiful heel for my collection, that has been carefully and lovingly crafted.