my name is Stef and I’m the founder of Atelier Stefani. Why I started this business? Well, where do I begin?
Fashion for me has always been something more meaningful than just a superficial cover of the human body. It reflects emotions, personality, character and an overall statement of your inner self.
What you see is what you feel. Shoes are indicators of our gender, identity and taste. They are commodities and aesthetic artefacts at the same time. Feet are made for walking, shoes may not be.
Design, art, craft, fashion, sex and power – Shoes have transformed into much more than just a practical necessity. Sitting between function and fashion, they express social values, power and passion. Shoes are pushed into the realm of art and sculpture. Sometimes so far removed from functionality, design can become more important than the comfort they bring. The glamour and desirability of such provocative creations tells us about the complex and enduring link between suffering, sex and style.
I travelled to Milan, Italy, to visit little family owned shoemaking factories, meeting up with suppliers while getting inspired by the fashion metropolis. Italy is the birthplace of the shoemaking industry, leather tanneries and it is the embodiment of elegance and style. Milan sets designers’ standards for perfection. There are so many different associations I have in mind when it comes to Italy: luxury, quality, fashion, good wine and delicious food – La Dolce Vita.
Wandering through the city, I discovered old traditional shoemakers’ workshops and little design stores that transmitted the feeling of a different time in history. I think fashion, just like any other form of art, can take you to certain places by stimulating your senses. Music, for example, is a huge inspiration for me and looking at the big picture I can find many parallels to my craft.
Shoemaking is the art to combine the beauty of the design with the comfort we need to live our busy lifestyle. It is the exact balance of the melody and the lyrics. Shoes set the rhythm of your steps, making your inner music flow through your body. It’s the creative tension between structure and spontaneity.
So, as I walked through the streets of Milan, those little unique studios and shops reminded me of something so essential. There was a time, long before mass production became a thing, when artisans and craftsmen were making something for the individual. They didn’t follow any trends; the client and their original were the center of their creation – for a reason.