Shoe designer Alejandro Ingelmo is just about as awesome as his name. We caught up with the Cuban designer this past weekend at Sakes Fifth Avenue for a special presentation of his Fall 2012 Collection and found out his biggest fear and why he thinks Rita Ora is the perfect woman.
You have a strong Cuban heritage and knowledge of shoes with your grandfather owning a shoe store in Cuba. How do you try to combine the Cuban flair with the New York edge?
There are a lot of things in terms of Cuban being Latin and being a little bit sexier. Because of the heritage I have, its very important to me to have good craftsmanship, certain values and to create something thats really well made. I feel like a lot of that has taught me to make more modern designs with a certain craft quality to them. In terms of the Latin aspect, I always think of a woman being sexy but not going too overboard. Its all about finding that perfect balance. I grew up with a lot of women like that in my life, my mother, my grandmother, cousins etc. I always saw them getting ready at night, and they always wore heels.
With all of your travels around the world, do you think there is a certain type of woman who can pull of any kind of heel?
Yes. Heels are very important and they make a woman look a certain way with what they do to the body. I love designing them. For me, its about playing more with design because there is so much more to play with when working with heels. With a flat shoe, you only have a certain area to work with. When your shoe has a heel, there is just so much room for design. The most important thing is you should be able to walk in the shoes. I dont want to label it tacky, but it is kind of tacky when you see a woman who cant walk in her heels. Its the biggest faux pox. Shes trying to be sexy, but sometimes its not about having the highest heel. I think thats something a lot of women dont understand. They think that the higher they are, the more attention theyre going to get. I think theres a certain rule and a certain aesthetic to make sure a woman looks beautiful, sexy and also chic at the same time, and that has to do with high heels. With this collection, I went a totally different route. I started to move away from platforms.
What kind of research tells you what women want and look for in a pair of shoes?
I just go with my gut and what I think. I work off my past when I am developing patterns. Its not so much about what women are wearing or what is going on in the market, its more about what I think works for a woman and is comfortable. I always keep these things in mind when Im designing. It would make me feel really bad if I saw a woman wear my shoes and not be able to walk in them. Thats the thing Im most scared about, so its the element I work the hardest at. Those are things Ive only learned from experience and by making mistakes.
I know Rita Ora came into your store recently. Can you tell us a little bit about her and what she bought? Yes. Shes great. She is the coolest girl. What I love about her is that she can wear trainers and look sexy but also wear heels and look sexy. To me, thats the perfect woman, someone who knows how to do that. I was at a dinner and she said, 'Oh, I have three pairs of your shoes.' I told her I have a store down in SoHo, so she came by the next day and bought some trainers and some heels. Shes a really cool girl. Shes going to be big because she has good energy and is a good person.
If you could describe your shoes in this collection with one current movie or TV show, what would it be?
Thats really hard. It has an origami feel to it but also an element of old Hollywood, but then there is something very modern about it too. I can say that my mens sneaker Tron is based off of the movie Tron because I grew up obsessed, so that was kind of my thing. I think with this collection, you could either go very old school or modern. Maybe Boardwalk Empire? Its hard to say!