At 84, Sergio Rossi had amassed a legacy that few in the world can lay claim to.
The Italian shoe designer, who passed on 2 April due to coronavirus, was one of the greatest in his craft, ranked alongside the likes of Christian Louboutin and Manolo Blahnik. Rossi was known for his ability to “to capture a woman’s femininity in a unique way, creating the perfect extension of a woman’s leg through his shoes,” as Riccardo Sciutto, CEO of Rossi’s namesake brand, said in a statement.
Sergio Rossi grew up in San Mauro Pascoli, a small village in Italy where he picked up his father’s shoemaking trade. A skilled cobbler by the age of 14, Rossi took over his father’s bespoke business in 1956, creating handmade shoes to sell along the Italian Riviera. In 1968, he founded the eponymous luxury brand that would make him a household name beyond Italy.
As a shoe designer, Rossi was meticulous: every pair famously took no less than 120 different stages and 14 hours to create. That desire for perfection stemmed from his view that shoes weren’t merely an accessory, but a part of a woman’s body. He made everything from sandals to stilettos accordingly, and the elegance of his designs naturally spoke to women, including famous ones like Rihanna, Ariana Grande and Beyoncé.
Rossi was also a collaborative spirit. Decades before brands teamed up with one another for one-off capsule collections, the Italian shoemaker was designing for the likes of Gianni Versace, Azzedine Alaïa and the now-disgraced duo, Dolce & Gabbana. These high-profile collaborations soon helped his brand take off, relying solely on Rossi’s mastery and creativity.
Prior to losing his own battle against the virus, Rossi aided in fashion’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by donating €100,000 (S$155,005.68) to a hospital in Milan. While Rossi now counts as another fashion legend that has left us, his legacy, which inspired his son Gianvito Rossi to start his own luxury shoe label, will live on. According to Sciutto, there are plans to build a museum dedicated to the late designer’s oeuvre in his hometown, featuring over 6,000 archival pieces.
Ahead of the museum’s launch, we take a look at some of the iconic designs that Sergio Rossi will be remembered for.