MILAN — Italian shoe designer Diego Dolcini will release a book to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his namesake label.
Dubbed “From Heart to Toe,” the tome is divided in two parts, each comprising three chapters retracing both Dolcini’s career and the evolution of the fashion world from 1994 to the present.
Curated by art and costume historian and former director of the Ratti Foundation Textile Museum Chiara Buss, the first half of the publication includes the chapter “Roots” illustrating the shoemaker’s story with images, text and meaningful quotes by international poets; the Planning section collecting sketches, drawings and moodboards, and the Themes part comprising recurring stylistic inspirations in Dolcini’s work, which is known for sensual and daring high-heeled styles.
The second half of the volume is more visual and illustrated by images of red carpet arrivals, installations and performances and Dolcini’s personal portraits collected under the Walking, Presenting and DD chapters, respectively.
With a price tag of 150 euros, the tome will be available in only 500 copies at select bookstores and on Amazon starting Sept. 16.
The date will also mark the official presentation of the volume at the Teatro Franco Parenti location in Milan. For the occasion, an artsy 20-minute movie portraying Dolcini with a range of Italian personalities will be screened as a teaser before the unveiling of the book.
During a press preview on Tuesday at his home in central Milan, Dolcini said “From Heart to Toe” has been conceived by an extensive creation process and the combination of different types of paper, formats and printing techniques.
“Chiara [Buss] was one of my teachers at Domus Academy and throughout the years she followed my career. Three years ago we started to work on this project, beginning from considerable research,” said Dolcini, who gathered over 3,000 items among images, sketches and prototypes of all his collections.
“The first thing Chiara [Buss] did was an incredible job of archiving…filing the material according to nine themes such as color, season, use, type of shoes, of heel, of toes and materials, among others,” he explained, adding that this multimedia project was then turned into the physical tome.
“I didn’t want to do a catalogue and this book is not meant to be self-congratulatory because my career is not over yet,” said Dolcini. “I just wanted to set a milestone at a certain point of my professional journey, plus I had gathered so much material that I decided to publish it not to lose it,” he added, underscoring how his expansive work as a consultant for other fashion brands doesn’t appear on the pages of the volume.
After the scholarship at Domus Academy, where he studied during a time in which Gianfranco Ferré, Gianni Versace and Romeo Gigli used to mentor, Dolcini kicked off his career with an internship in Paris at Dior. Back in Italy, at the age of 21, he signed his first contract with Bruno Magli. In 1994, he launched his namesake label and won Vogue Talents — Vogue Italia’s fashion talent scouting project — in the footwear category. Yet the life-changing moment in his career was when Domenico De Sole called him to helm Gucci’s footwear department under former creative director Tom Ford.
“The years working with Tom Ford have been the most important for my education, both personal and managerial, because I was 29 years old and in charge of a key division, it was a huge responsibility for me. Tom [Ford] has been an incredible teacher fashion-wise and Domenico De Sole an amazing mentor for all things managerial.”
Other work experiences included collaborations with Emilio Pucci, Narciso Rodriguez, Vionnet and Ermenegildo Zegna, among others. From 2016 to last December, Dolcini was head shoe designer at Balmain.
“With Balmain we did 150 pairs of shoes for Beyoncé’s tour,” he recalled when asked about the many celebrities wearing his styles throughout the past 25 years.
Dolcini’s greatest hits comprise designs for Mariah Carey, Rihanna and Madonna, for whom he created the shoes she wore for her famous Super Bowl performance of 2012 and the over-the-knee boots with a platform resembling a panther worn on a 2013 cover of Harper’s Bazaar.
Last year, Dolcini also collaborated for a special project with Baccarat. He created a limited-edition capsule collection of 15 footwear designs sporting crystal heels, including a ruby satin sandal with a torsade-shaped crystal heel echoing Baccarat’s Zenith chandelier.
Asked if he has any regrets looking back to his career, the shoemaker said he has never had one and that, although he could have “tried to do something more approachable, at the end of the day I stood out for my most flamboyant creations.”