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Designer Chat

Rocio Ildemaro

Bespoke footwear’s first-rate artistry and attention to detail provides the framework for Rocio Ildemaro’s eponymous ready-to-wear line. The former bespoke designer and Milan at Ars Sutoria graduate approached her debut Fall ’09 collection with the same allegiance as its one-of-a-kind predecessors—and boutique buyers caught wind. “My retailers appreciate my craftsmanship, design and humor,” Ildemaro says. “They want something unique yet totally wearable.”

Ildemaro—who hails from Venezuela but is now based in New York—admits to still agonizing over which details and designs will make the cut, but she expects to roll out 12 new styles for unruly winter weather, including shoes with hidden platforms and thicker heels. The collection toys with texture, a signature Ildemaro says she’s come to accept after years of denying it. “I think it feels nice to run your hand over something and feel the differences,” she explains. Styles feature soft and warm leathers, antiqued pony skin and shades of single colors layered for a look Ildemaro describes as “a shoe you can practically wear with everything, yet it still remains a special shoe for a great occasion.” She notes, “I want my fall/winter line to be a spot of joy to an otherwise cold season. I think shoes always do that.”

What kind of woman do you design for?

So many women love shoes, how can I only design for one woman? But in a way I do. I design for myself. Every shoe is one that I desire and can’t wait to wear myself. Even though I saw the shoe through the whole process, I always jump for joy when I try a pair on.

Where do you look for design inspiration?

Oh boy, everywhere. My last collection was about music, old films, art and museums. For this line, many shoes were inspired by a map. I thought of cities that I have been to and designed a shoe for an experience or feeling I had in each.

What shoes could you not live without?

My future shoes. I could not live without the thought of them, since they keep me moving on to the next season.

Describe a shoe we would never see in your line.

I would hate to insult any little shoe out there, but since most shoes tend to only read doormats and not publications, I think it’s OK to say cowboy boots. We don’t wear cowboy boots in South America.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t mind getting my hands dirty. I ride vintage Vespas and enjoy working on them and rebuilding carburetors. I also have a 53 Bel Air, and if I want it to run, then I have to get my hands dirty. And I always wear my heels when riding and working on them. —Angela Velasquez

The April/May 2024 Issue

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