With his super-sexy, fiercely edgy, modern designs, Alejandro Ingelmo is the man to watch when it comes to high-fashion footwear. He's got shoes in his blood — four generations of his family have worked in the business in his native Cuba. Madonna wore a pair of heels for her H&M campaign, Jeffrey requested that he produce a men's collection, and he most recently was a CFDA/Vogue finalist. Lucky for us, he slowed down his rollercoaster ride just long enough to talk about his dedication to both quality and his BlackBerry.
Generations of your family have worked in the shoe business. Did you always want to be a shoe designer, or did you just fall into it?
It was actually the last thing on my mind. I had wanted to go to design school since I was young, but not necessarily fashion. I went to Parsons and explored different things, such as design and pattern cutting and then shoe design, and realized it came naturally to me. Admittedly my grandfather's great understanding of craftsmanship and quality has really influenced my mentality towards design.
From where do you source your materials? Is it hard to get access to good resources as a younger label?
I source everything from Italy, all my leather. When you start out, you want to make a mark, and one of the biggest challenges was getting access to good materials.
What is the inspiration behind your designs? How would you describe your direction or aesthetic?
I don't really think in terms of inspiration. For me it's all about "the new" — new materials, new textures. My creations are very forward. It's an edgy aesthetic, very strong, very sexy, very modern.
What type of woman wears Alejandro Ingelmo shoes?
She is a modern woman. She is not the type to be at home cleaning and cooking! She has a powerful position in the world.
What's in your future?
To keep on. I have just started doing bags — a small collection of clutches for spring/summer, which will develop into a full bag range.
What trends right now do you like?
I don't follow trends, but if anything, I like what's going on with women's fashion. The boxy shapes and the extremes — as seen at Gareth Pugh. I think it's where we are moving towards.
What trends do you wish would just go away?
Prints. I think they are just a way of disguising bad fabrics. I love to see the use of bold color and good fabric and stitching.
What do you think every woman should have in her wardrobe?
You know what I am going to say! A good pair of shoes!
Which designers do you wear yourself?
Dior Homme, Tim Hamilton shirts, my own shoes. I actually just bought a Dior Homme suit for the CFDA because I didn't own one!
What is the one item you can't live without?
Starbucks coffee, my BlackBerry!