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The shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti with some of his glittering, gravity-defying creations. Jaime Puebla / The National
The shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti with some of his glittering, gravity-defying creations. Jaime Puebla / The National

Giuseppe Zanotti bares his sole in Abu Dhabi

The shoe designer embodies Italian glamour and is endlessly curious about the female of the species. It's no wonder his gorgeous shoes speak volumes.

The name Giuseppe Zanotti brings about thoughts of glittery sandals and towering stilettos. The brand and the man, in his white trousers, double-breasted navy knit jacket and thick black glasses, represent all there is to Italian glamour.

If he likes something, you'll know about it right away, but when he loves something his passion makes you love it, too. When he talks about art, music and design he shakes his silver hair and stretches his hands out to emphasise his enthusiasm. If you're lucky you'll get an "I love!"

The shoe designer was in the Emirates recently for the opening of his latest Giuseppe Zanotti store in Abu Dhabi's Avenue at Etihad Towers.

It is perhaps Zanotti's excitability and passion that, even at 54 years of age, keep his view on fashion and life constantly fresh and young. His relationship with women's shoes started when he saw his first pair at age 7.

"They were my mum's shoes," he says. "It was the perfect pair of Marilyn Monroe shoes from an Italian company that doesn't exist anymore. It was not really a pair of my shoes, but for me it [felt like] it was."

After buying the Vicini shoe factory in the 1990s, Zanotti's vision was clear: "My first DNA formula was to have a lightweight shoe with elegance, proportion and sweetness".

As for his way with crystals, Zanotti insists that he wanted to break the mould when it came to footwear.

"Everybody thinks about feet as something not so important, but women's feet are so important, especially for this country and this market," he says. "When I put embroidery or jewels on women's feet it's a great tribute to them - like a diamond collier on the neck of the feet."

Zanotti's curiosity about the female species may have helped him tap into their attraction to footwear. He thinks of shoes as his messengers, spreading the word through vibrations that emit from each pair displayed in a shop window.

"Just like boys talk to women and animals talk together, any single shoe talks directly to the woman," he says.

Two decades later and not only has the designer changed, but also the world he works in has, too. The fashion industry has evolved from a classicist form of expression ruled by a handful of designers to an approachable subject that's accessible to all kinds of women; something that Zanotti took notice of right away and used to his advantage.

"It's not like the 1970s or 1980s," he says. "The 'total look' is finished, it's history. Now the woman is the designer and she picks what she wants."

In a room full of women, Zanotti's eye will be drawn to the one in high heels. A stiletto changes a woman's posture and walk, he says. She becomes "like a tiger, so elegant and proud; so strong".

Zanotti says that interior design and music would be his calling if he didn't get into shoe design. The former DJ says he still has a deep connection to the music world.

"Music can communicate with everybody," he says. "When I listen to Arabic music I don't know the words but I love it."

It's Zanotti's appreciation of the finer details in life that keep him communicating so effectively to women, even if it is through a pair of shoes.

"You need to feel alive so you can feel new things all the time, new vibrations every day," he says. Because life is incredible, the world - it's incredible."

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