Using the term “made in Italy” as a way of promoting locally produced, handmade items has become popular recently, but it’s taken long and lateral thinking to link up a 160-year-old furnishing-fabric company with a shoemaker of less than 40 years’ standing. But a commitment to excellent quality and carefully hand-finished items is the bond between these two illustrious Italian family firms: Santoni, based in the shoemaking Marche area and known for its classically elegant styles and hand-patinated finishes, and textile icon Rubelli, with its archive housed in a historic Venetian palazzo. Despite Santoni’s relative youth, it already involves two generations and its past imaginative collaborations include special alligator straps for watchmaker IWC.
The new shoes covered in carefully chosen Rubelli fabrics have an opulent and distinctly Venetian look. Both companies believe in fusing technological innovation with traditional craft and values; the fabrics for the leather-lined footwear were painstakingly tested for durability, and the structure and soles are the same as those used on Santoni’s other styles. As a firm with a strong reputation for men’s shoes, all these collaborative designs, for both women and men, are flat or low heeled.
The interplay of archive fabrics in the collection is perhaps the most interesting aspect. Traditional, luxurious 18th-century-inspired silk lampas, co-ordinated with the spotted Punteggiato velvet (designed by architect Gio Ponti in 1934), catches the current mood for print mixes. For men, there is an elegant, almond-toed monk shoe combining the spot-print in brown and beige with tan leather (€598), or the tasselled Lopez loafer with brogue leather toe or with piping (first picture, €515). Particularly luscious for women are the low-cut Daria ballerina pumps mixing silk with spot in delicate pastel shades (€468), and the piped lace-up Natasha in pale blue and pink, or blue and eau-de-nil lampas (left in second picture, €468). There are also tasselled, piped slippers mingling spot and lampas (right in second picture, €468). Small numbers of each style are arriving in selected Santoni stores and online on Saturday December 1, and they are all suitably, and sophisticatedly, festive.