Hands up if you’re in the habit of slipping a pair of flats in your tote just in case you can’t go the distance in killer heels? Yep, we thought so. Ever since high heels were invented, the holy grail of shoes for women has been sexy, ultra-glam, sky-high and, crucially, comfortable.
Step forward Viviana Vignola, ex-lawyer, daughter of the owners of one of Italy’s top tanneries, and the creator of sensual, sophisticated footwear that goes under the brand name “Racine Carrée” (French for “square root”). This designer has pulled off the greatest coup since the Rubik’s Cube was solved: she has succeeded in simultaneously prioritizing style and comfort.
Her instinct for accessory design is bred in the bone. Growing up surrounded by the finest leathers, she was instinctively drawn to the special architecture of shoemaking. “I’ve always been fascinated by their construction—it’s a balance of art and science. During my classes at university, I used to hide my shoe design drawings in a law book!”
Leaving the legal profession behind her, Viviana followed her passion to start producing stellar footwear in luxurious suede, Ita¬lian nappa leather, printed python inserts, silk, and more. “Our shoes are entirely ‘Made in Italy’—without question, the best country in the world for footwear. Milan is our base—it’s a stimulating city. I love wandering the streets observing the continuous stream of people and imagining, based on the shoes they wear, what their lives are like. It gives me the chance to watch how fashion trends evolve.”
Arguably her most iconic design is the Kallistè (meaning “the most beautiful”). Its signature floral pattern is inspired by the overlapping petals of the anemone, and is finished with sassy wrap-around ankle laces and a band that caresses the foot. Colors are strong, such as jet black, cobalt blue, fiery red, and rose-gold. “It’s a timeless shoe—sexy and strong with a touch of audacity,” says Viviana. Turning each design into a finished object takes several months of intense work, a lot of experience, and strong technical knowledge of each component to achieve the perfect balance. “I search for the structural elements of a shape, which I always create personally; and I focus attention on the heel, which I love to customize to the maximum. Every detail of my shoes is made to measure and unique.”
Now a Kallistè Limited Edition collection has been added to the Racine Carrée range, and only 1,000 pairs of the iconic sandal have been made. The limited-edition shoe is encrusted with glittering Swarovski crystals in three versions: sultry dark brown; scarlet for look-at-me glamour; and elegant clear crystal. Each pair has polished black Italian leather soles stamped with a gold-foil-engraved logo along with that particular shoe’s limited-edition number. “At the launch of every new design, it feels like love—a big emotion,” says Viviana. Actually, it’s even bigger than that: like Cinderella, a pair of Kallistè Limited Edition shoes will change your life.