Francesco Russo: The Italian Shoemaker Who Fell in Love with Paris

Mary Elizabeth Collins

In 2013, the designer launched his eponymous design firm, creating women’s shoes with a strong Milanese inspiration.

Born in 1974 in the Italian region of Puglia, Francesco Russo was able to display his innate abilities for fashion design—for the first time— in Milan at the Costume Nationale where he designed shoes, bags, and accessories between 1996 and 1998.

It was a crucial moment for this avant-garde Italian label. Russo’s next stage— between 1998 and 2000— was Miu Miu, where he designed shoes under the creative direction of Fabio Zambernardi.

Francesco Russo
Francesco Russo.

His talent and desire to innovate led him to Paris in 2000, where he established his residence and accepted a job with Yves Saint Laurent, in major renovation projects with Tom Ford, and with Stefano Pilati, contributing at the same time to the overall success of the brand.

In 2008, he was named creative director at Sergio Rossi. Russo is credited whit the success of the firm, and this is evident in his refined approach and ability to combine precise lines in the unique, sensual creations he made for the label.

Russo continued the trend started in YSL, with the creation of intricate and seductive shoes complemented by decorative leather elements, all characterized by their excellent manufacturing quality.

His next step— in 2013— was to launch his personal design firm, dedicated to women’s shoes, and based on a strong Milanese inspiration without forgetting the experience he had acquired in Paris.

Russo opened his workshop near the Royal Palace in the elegant heart of the city, adopting two essential premises of his creative vision: authenticity and personal values.

Francesco Russo

Through craftsmanship and respect for tradition, this artist started a new and unusual journey where work was everything, using explicit references to legendary figures. He made shoes for artists who left an indelible mark on the history of the fashion the last century. The Italian genius created a workshop that became a place to create but also an ideal space to work and sell his coveted merchandise.

Russo entered into a new relationship with his clients, providing a closer dialogue between himself and the women he works for, all within the same roof.

To this end, he focused the stylistic research on a few timeless shapes with very clear characteristics: femininity, elegance, and experimentation.

By opting for creative rhythms more attuned with his vision, Russo bypassed the idea of the collection—as well as the changing of the seasons—to introduce objects that celebrate the beauty and seduction made entirely to measure and therefore only available in his Paris studio.

Currently, Russo has a boutique/workshop at No. 8 Rue de Valois, where he shows his ultra-feminine shoes with different heel heights, colors, and materials, which after commissioned by the client take about six weeks to be delivered.

Francesco Russo is a unique Italian craftsman that has found his place in Paris, establishing a personal and unique universe of exclusive shoes for the 21st-century women.  ■

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