There haven't been that many new-NEW shoe designers that have gotten super excited with the exception of Simona Vanth which has made a storming debut last season with its Plastique Primitive collection that is now currently stocked in Dover Street Market, a good benchmark of success.
Designer Simona Citarella returns with a new A/W 12-3 collection named "Concrete Island", after the J.G. Ballard novel that once again seeks to find new surface textures, derived from isolated themes. If ever there were a shoe label that recalls a whole host of music, architecture, art and literature references in my head then Simona Vanth would be it – 90s acid house, the Barbican building, George Orwell, the new Chromatics album and Ryan McGinley's photography are just some of the things that come to mind. In fact it is artist Sterling Ruby's mixed media pieces that directly inspire the collection with her combination of the artificial and the natura and the graffiti and the antique, which is how we get acid hue brushed calf leather, sprayed black rubber, blue wood leather and scratchy gold mirror leather. This collision of the old and new and the natural and the artificial underlies Simone Vanth's work, giving her shoes a feeling that they might have just been excavated from a time capsule 50 years from now without a period or region to define them. I personally love how there's a kind sturdiness to Citarella's work, which comes from her experience as a shoe designer for the likes of bStore and Opening Ceremony. These aren't shoes for wobbling around in. Whilst escaping into the dreamscape of inspiration source imagery for this Simona Vanth collection, it's reassuring that the end results are pleasingly down to earth.
The extra edge that Simona Vanth has this season is a stellar collaboration with jewellery designer Arielle de Pinto. De Pinto's crochet is very seamlessly worked into three of the styles from Simona Vanth's new A/W 12-3 collection and feels like they were born out of a like-minded creative relationship. Citarella of course has a natural knack for collaboration given that she is also buyer and owner of the store Wok in Milan, giving her the opportunity to work with a plethora of designers and creatives. Artistic partnerships will continue to underpin Simona Vanth as a shoe label that feels like an open-ended dialogue.
I'm segueing into Arielle de Pinto's A/W 12-3 collection which was presented in New York at The Standard Hotel as part of MADE. I sadly missed the presentation but these backstage photos by BFA and the still shots of the collection give me a good idea of what is an assertive collection of Arielle de Pinto's signature metal crochet and knitting. Her collection now comprises of her Atelier line, her AdP line, her collection for men, her custom showpieces as well as a few collaborations up her sleeve. It's all instantly recognisable of course as Arielle de Pinto because of that metal crochet/knit, which has been ripped off shamelessly on numerous occasions. There's a refinement to her work now though where the crochet/knit is more contained and controlled – framed by a gold hairpin or weighted down by gold cubes in a pair of earrings – all the while, it still has that free spirited quality that has always embodied de Pinto's work.
In this new collection, she showed not one but two shoe collaborations with the first being her shoes designed with Simona Vanth and the second being these crocheted platforms boots, rubber lace-ups and sandals for LVMM, a continuation of their work together from S/S 12.