MILAN — As chief accessories designer at Versace, Brian Atwood has been rocking the house for the past few seasons, creating drop-dead accessories to match its equally provocative clothes. Now he’s branching out with his own signature shoe collection, launched in Milan last week at Nilufar, an eclectic home-furnishings boutique on the trendy Via de La Spiga. “I wanted to showcase my work in a beautiful environment,” says the designer. “This is one of my favorite stores in Milan, and I felt it was a perfect backdrop.” The collection fuses fashion and art, sophistication and edge. “It’s about taking something basic and making it elegant and sexy,” explains the 33-year-old designer. “I wanted to design a line that was luxurious and over-the-top and would move people to want to wear it today and 20 years from now.”
The piece de resistance, called Dangerous Blossom, is a dramatic black slingback evening sandal accented with a lace flower handmade in Cantu, Italy, a town renowned for its exquisite lacework. Each petal takes three hours to make, totaling up to 30 hours of work for a pair of shoes. “I like to mix the hard and soft together,” the designer adds. One of his evening stiletto sandals comes in a bleached frogskin with handpainted gold and silver spots and a jeweled brooch. Other stunners include a psychedelic, tie-dye ponyhair stiletto boot with a lasered lace design, a crocodile mid-heel Mod boot treated to look like denim and a patchwork suede leather boot hand painted by an Italian art restorer.
“Freedom lies in being bold,” Atwood says. And this message couldn’t be clearer than in his patchwork suede and animal-print, fringed midcalf boot, which has already caught the eye of singer Mary J. Blige.