We love how Bionda Castana presents us the modern contemporary and also elegant footwear design. Natalia Barbieri, co-founder of Bionda Castana, shares with us the past, present and future about their up-rising luxury footwear brand. (Images: Doc. Bionda Castana, Bionda Castana Tumblr)
How did you start your label? And your passion in the shoe-making?
Jennifer and I met on our first day at Westminster University in London almost 20 years ago, and were immediately joined at the hip. Aside from being half Italian and studying international business we have always been obsessed with accessories and design. My dream job was to always be creative and develop my own brand in the fashion industry. For me my plan had to have the right balance between creative and business where I knew I would be fulfilled in my choice of career. The ability to develop product from start to finish, be a part of its production, brand it, bring it to market, see it perform at retail, as well as all other elements involved, is truly the dream. I simply had a strong obsession with footwear from a very young age. I would pick up shoes in luxury boutiques and department stores and look at them in a totally different way, in more of an interested in its construction kind of way. I analysed and analysed the shoes, which made me start sketching. My first pair of designer shoes were bought for me by my brother Alberto. They are by Sergio Rossi. Blue Crocodile stamped leather court shoes, single sole, 10cm stiletto heel with thin tie cross over ankle strap. I guess they can now be called vintage. This opened my eyes to the world of luxury shoes and was were my obsession first began.
Can you share on how does the inspiration translate into each of the collection and its design process?
Our emphasis is on classic design, the finest fabrics and exceptional craftsmanship – which are synonymous with Italy. Travelling to Italy every summer for over 20 years has certainly engrained that in me. Inspiration really is drawn by every travel destination, friends, lifestyle. We start each season on a blank canvas. Ultimately the collection is inspired and curated by a gut feeling. We design elegant shoes for any time of the day and any given mood – hence why we say we design for ourselves. We are working women who also have down time and we need to fit those scenarios.
What do you consider as the important elements into designing your shoes?
Balancing trend and comfort. rue hand made shoes are comfort led. Women are veering towards the mid heel now also. We now have more of a desirable choice when it comes to lower heel heights, not to mention the sneaker offering. We no longer have to always feel we need to wear high high, but lets not get is twisted, the spike is back.
Who are the Bionda Castana women?
The Bionda Castana customer is individualistic, unconcerned about price, very concerned about pedigree and design distinction and expectant of highest quality. She buy’s a combination of established designer brands and publicised emerging or ‘young’ labels. We were inspired by the modern, chic, woman – the woman who wears a ‘uniform’/understated. She is cool, confident, elegant in a non traditional way, not trying to hard, yet cuts a striking figure. The shoes elevate her mood.
Which is the one pair of shoes from your design that you’ll live in?
It has to be the DENNI flat. Its my ultimate go-to.
Can you talk us through the upcoming Resort/ Spring-Summer 2017 collection? Which are your favorite pairs?
For Resort 2017, we present our newest collection ‘Palm Springs is my Muse’ named after the desert city much loved by us. Annual trips to Palm Springs have brought never-ending inspiration and joy to us; looking to the beautiful architectural details and chic women lounging poolside. Both are casual and elegant in every sense of the word. We wanted to encapsulate the flavour of the Palm Springs lifestyle; the mountains, the sun, the pool, the relaxed atmosphere – and above all, the vibrant fun. The collection unravelled with a mood of love, passion, carefree whimsical frivolity. As a result, there is a style for each and every Bionda Castana client, with designs ranging from the sky high laser- cut metallic dancing shoe to the laid back pool slider ‘Serafina’ (our favourite!) and double-denim block heel.
After Bionda Castana’s first store in London’s Elizabeth Street, what’s next?
The brands vision is to create a highly profitable global British luxury footwear and accessories brand. Our brand’s international business is strong and we plan to continue growth and strengthen export sales. We want to be identified as a key British brand on a global scale.
Finally, what would be your style advice?
Accessorise in brights. Makes me happy every time.