A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the European luxury shoe label Bionda Castana ("Blonde Brunette" in Italian). I immediately fell in love. So, I visited the showroom in Soho while in New York and met up with co-founder and designer Natalia Barbieri (shown left...Jennifer Portman is also co-founder and designer, shown right.). Natalia is as gorgeous as her shoes and kindly walked me through her collection, allowing me to photograph them and really study them for the blog. (I was too timid at the time and honestly too crazed from fashion week to ask to try on a pair, but next time I think it's a must, yes?)
So when I recently learned that celebrities have been going nuts over the brand's shoes, I sorta squealed with delight. You like to see small brands "make" it and you like to support those who work hard, but also make time for even the most minute bloggers (blush). Or I know I like to see that, anyway. So, I'm thrilled to include this QA today with Natalia that outlines all my burning questions on the label, including who she wants to see wear them next! I hope you enjoy...and tell me which is your fav.
I Heart Heels: So many celebrities have worn the Lana heel lately. It's just lovely! Why do you think they gravitate towards this style so much?
Natalia Barbieri: Lana is our take on the classic single sole pump and is reflective of our love of architecture and art. This particular shape and style is very on trend. It's not ‘plain’ yet works in the same capacity as a ‘plain’ pump would with added cool. The shoe is easily worn with any outfit and is available in every color of the rainbow. Also, the fabrication of the style is popular because it's breathable. When wearing heels, our feet naturally swell, but the soft mesh at the front of the toes keeps our feet comfortable and this style doesn’t rub in the same way a leather-lined pump would.
IHH: Being a smaller shoe label, how hard is it to keep up with the competition? It seems you're doing it very well.
NB: The challenge is always, and will always be, how can we make the next collection better than the one before, what can we do in between seasons to keep the fire burning and how else can we tell our story while still keeping it in line with the brand values (be it through fashion film, collaborations with artists, etc.). There is a lot of competition out there. But it’s all creatively brilliant and exciting.
IHH: What's your own personal fav from the fall collection?
NB: I personally live in the DEKOTA bi-color bootie. It works with absolutely everything in my wardrobe and is perhaps the most comfortable shoe I’ve owned, EVER.
IHH: Working with shoes must be a dream job! (I mean, we think so.) What are some pros and cons of the job.
NB: Working with your best friend is the ultimate pro. A con is not having a lot of spare time - but I guess everyone can say the same thing.
IHH: Which celebrities do you want to see wearing Bionda Castana next?
NB: Diane Kruger, Jessica Chastain and Beyoncé.
IHH: What are some of the details on your shoes that make then stand out from other shoe labels?
NB: We work with bold prints, but that are still tasteful and wearable. Also, our use of transparency is a signature of ours. It’s the aesthetic of the brand, it’s not something we come up with per season. It just is.
IHH: Who is the Bionda Castana girl?
NB: She's cool, confident and elegant in a non-traditional way. Not trying too hard, yet cuts a striking figure.
[Photos Courtesy Bionda Castana]