NEW YORK -- Calvin Klein made a maximum impact with his minimalist style on the runways for fall; his spare, modern spirit was reflected in the deftly feminine and simple footwear by newly signed partner Diego Della Valle. FN recently caught up with the low-key designer before he escaped on a three-week vacation and queried the king of sportswear on his footwear passion, new proportions, deconstructionalist bent and the shape of things to come.

FN: First, you are well-known in footwear circles for your passion for shoes. Where did this passion begin, how did it develop and how does it play out in clothing and shoe design -- and in your working relationship with shoe licensee Diego Della Valle?

CK: I've always been passionate about shoes. They're so important. They affect the whole sense of proportion and mood of an outfit -- they complete the picture -- the image that I have in my mind.

FN: What unique talents and point of view does Diego Della Valle bring to the table?

CK: Diego has a state-of-the-art factory and his reputation for quality craftsmanship is known throughout the industry. I also find Diego to be a very modern businessman, very forward-thinking. With Diego, there is a meeting of the minds -- we have a similar way of looking at the footwear business and we're both committed to quality and style. He also has extensive experience and knowledge of the footwear market, both domestically and abroad.

FN: How important are the shoes in the whole picture of fashion? When you are conceptualizing a season's ready-to-wear, do all accessories (including shoes) figure into early image, or do you have a particular piece, inspiration or attitude -- something less tangible -- that becomes your starting point?

CK: I want my clothes to be proportioned. I'm always thinking about the complete look and the balance. The shoes also have to allow women choices -- different heights and fabrics and styles. It's fascinating -- they're so important.

FN: You are also known for your prescient abilities when it comes to trends, part of your appreciation of what is hip, whether it be showing the first heavy boots or the next important proportion. To what or where do you turn to stay plugged into the cutting-edge trends? What do you see as the proportion of things to come for spring '95 and what will this mean for footwear?

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