The National chats with the founder of Parisian accessories brand Aperlaï, which has debuted its shoe collection in Dubai. Alessandra Lanvin, the founder of luxury shoe and accessories brand Aperlaï, has rolled out her debut collection in The Dubai Mall’s Level Shoe District. She walks us through the range, which counts celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Vanessa Paradis among its fans.
Since you established your brand in 2009, your shoes have only been available in Paris. Tell me about your first collection in the UAE.
It’s a fall/winter collection that’s currently presented here, and we’ve brought a selection of some of my most iconic heels. One style is very geometric, with zigzag heels. We also have the fringe collection, which are more fashion orientated and can be worn with a skirt or with jeans during the day. That’s how I’m wearing them now.
Your collections have a very arty feel. Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m very much inspired by the palette of colours of several artists. I think it’s because sometimes colours can be quite difficult to work with, especially on feet. So a big inspiration for me comes from art. I do my best to adapt the shades I like for shoes. One I’m currently using is Mondrian and I love his colour blocking and black lines – it gives my shoes a very graphic look.
Any plans to launch your accessories here too?
Our belts and bags are selling very well in Paris and while we’re focusing on shoes here at the moment, discussions are developing about the bag line. Designing bags is so much easier to do than shoes. In terms of construction, materials, sizes – it’s so complicated.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
I’ve actually reduced my personal collection because before I started designing them, I used to be a serious collector. I went from about 650 pairs to 300-and-something. I was systematically buying special-edition shoes, even if they weren’t always wearable. Owning them is a very special feeling as they are basically art on my feet.
If you had to pick one pair, which would it be your favourite?
For sure it’s the Geisha Doll. This was a shoe I’d thought about designing for a while, and when I brought it out in 2011, some of my girlfriends were telling me how ugly it was. I became really shy about it until a male journalist working for Vogue Italia said it was beautiful and fit for a geisha. He literally christened the shoe, and after that sales went boom.
If you were designing a shoe specifically for this region, what would it be like?
I’d love to do something for Ramadan – it’s such an important time. I’m half-Turkish, so I’ve lived in a country where it was respected and observed. I’d design something for ladies to wear in the evenings during Ramadan and Eid. Nothing too high – perhaps a wedge or even a slipper, and with some feathers, too.
What do you think of regional tastes for shoes?
Whenever I come here, I can’t stop looking at what people are wearing. I find it fascinating and it’s really important for me to understand how women like to dress here. The client is the most important thing and in the UAE they are very refined in their tastes. Women here understand the shoe culture, appreciate good quality and are well-educated in fashion.