This Is How Shoe Designers Found Their Muses

Of course, supermodels have to love stilettos – it’s part of the job. This year, a spate of campaigns featuring the world’s top models celebrate the endless attraction between the two: Giuseppe Zanotti and Karolina Kurkova; Palter de Liso and Karen Elson; and Stuart Weitzman and Gisele Bundchen. Here, we chatted with the supermodels, designers and photographers involved to hear more about how their special relationship came to life.

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Karolina Kurkova for Guiseppe Zanotti

For Giuseppe Zanotti’s spring 2015 campaign, he tapped leggy superstar Karolina Kurkova. Zanotti met Kurkova last year while she was playing with her son in the garden of the Bulgari hotel in Milan. He told us he was captured by the fact that not only is she a gorgeous beauty, “She is a tender mum, a gentle and humble woman with a resolute personality.”

For her part, Kurkova told us that she feels Zanotti’s passion in every one of his creations. “When I step literally into his shoes I feel that curiosity, that love for culture and music, and contagious vibe, come through,” she shared. “His shoes exude confidence and sexiness and a women who wears them is an independent spirit and very curious about life, the world, and people. His shoes speak volumes, not only for how each show is impeccably crafted, but for the positivity, and quality of life one feels when walking in them.”

Kurkova confessed she is currently crushing on the Yvette pump, the Smilebootie, and a black stiletto from Zanotti’s Rock ‘N’ Roll capsule collection, “effortlessly cool” as she puts it. The campaign features Kurkova in chic summer looks and minimal makeup, modeling both stilettos and flats on the coast of the French Rivera, posing against the rocky cliffs and Mediterranean Sea.


Karen Elson for Palter DeLiso

Palter DeLiso, the heritage brand founded in 1927, now reinvigorated and re-launched in 2013 by Lauren Bruksch and Taz Saunders, chose Karen Elson for their first brand image campaign, coinciding with the opening of their first store in Beverly Hills. The duo hired legendary Ellen von Unwerth to shoot a vintage-themed campaign with Elson at the TWA Flight Center at JFK, hearkening back to when travel was actually a glamorous endeavor.

“I actually saw Karen for the first time many years ago performing/singing one of my favorite songs,”Hallelujah,” at a fashion party in downtown NYC,” recalls Bruksch, before explaining why Elson was the perfect muse. “Karen is the quintessential Palter DeLiso woman — she has a sophisticated look and elegant style, yet is young and modern and transitional. We wanted everything for this campaign to have a slight nod to our heritage yet have a super modern aesthetic.”

During the shoot, von Unwerth remembers a moment when “the sun came in and Karen was running and there were specks of light everywhere. She’s so elegant; all her moves, her white skin and red hair, it’s just so stunning.”

Gisele Bundchen for Stuart Weitzman

Bundchen bared her sole last fall for her campaign with Stuart Weitzman, and she does it again for spring 2015. For her second time shoot with the footwear genius and inventor of the iconic “Nudist,” she went tomboy topless for a black-and-white campaign shot by the famed Mario Testino.

Testino noted that shooting a footwear campaign is quite different than a typical campaign. “The idea that the focus is on the shoes leaves a lot more freedom as to how the woman is dressed — this makes it especially exciting as it is more about the woman than the fashion as such,” he noted. He also raved about Bundchen’s work ethic, adding, “Gisele brings with her an energy that is very exciting and at the same time is an extremely hard worker. She is a great mover and completely understands what one is trying to convey.”

While no one from the Weitzman camp is currently allowed to speak to the press during their quiet period as they are acquired by Coach, Weitzman did give a shout out to one of his favorite shots of the campaign on his Instagram, coining a new term for the supermodel: “Giselegance.” The campaign will launch in the United States, Italy, France, England, Dubai, Germany, Spain and Asia with billboards and kiosks in Los Angeles, New York, Milan, Paris and Hong Kong.

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