Interview Of The Week : Ivan Crivellaro



My father always says he likes “wines that are sincere”. Sincerity is honesty, humility, and intimacy. When I first met Ivan Crivellaro, I wondered about his personality, though I had a feeling he would be sincere. I had sent meesages back and forth with him for a few years, but those were written. Meeting him face to face promised to open up another dimension to this man. I know when someone is fake. I also know Ivan Crivellaro is the EXACT opposite of fake.

From the second we first met, we immediately jumped into finding out more about each other. It was weird, though, since we also felt like we had known each other our whole lives. That familiarity is what makes an experience with Ivan feel so familial. It’s like family with him. In fact, walking with him in town (he and my wife are from the same town) is like taking a stroll with the mayor. Everybody makes sure to stop and say hello and Ivan patiently and happily catches up with each and every person he comes across.

He is not a big fan of cities. He prefers the clean mountain air, the sunny beaches, and the quaint feel of small towns. He loves nature and needs to connect with it; in small-town life, he gets to connect with people. Friendships are more important to Ivan and it is something that is instantly noticeable.

I have to be honest; whenever I hang out with Ivan, I second guess my shoes and am slightly ashamed and even contemplate going barefoot !!! But Ivan is one of the least judgemental people when it comes to that. He is interested in talking to someone face to face and getting to know them. Someone on his professional level that does NOT immediately rush to judgement says a lot about his humility and character. In fact, he would never be able to think of something so petty since, like me, his mind is full of millions of thoughts as he jumps from one idea to the next, smoking cigarettes and having a cocktail, and constantly looking around for inspiration. That is from where his genius comes. Sometimes, it feels like I am talking to my twin!

A racing mind is usually a sign of someone who has lots of ideas and a desire to bring those ideas to Life. I know the feeling. It’s exciting and stressful at the same time. You suffer for it. THAT is the true meaning of “passion”, meaning to suffer, from the word “pathos”. It is an overused word but it is refreshing to know people like Ivan really live it. In fact, his favorite clients are not necessarily those with loads of money to throw around. He prefers someone who does NOT have money to burn and actually appreciates every little detail of his passion and art.

Get this : Ivan Crivellaro is the world’s most important and sought after shoemaker. And he started off as a Pharmacist ! AND he is SELF-Taught!!! THIS is what Italy is about. If only Italians would remember they have these qualities, the country would not be in the mess it is in.

I first saw Ivan’s shoes on line and fell in love BUT I must say, seeing them in person and touching them and smelling them really is a completely different experience. The photos do not do any justice and I almost wish there were no photos and people would make a pilgramage to see these holy art relics, except these aren’t relics in the ancient sense, but, in fact, are current masterpieces. It would be like seeing the Sistine Chapel right after it was painted.

The shoes….I don’t even know what they really are. I don’t even think they are shoes. They are something else. Something …… beyond. I am not even sure I would wear them, not only out of fear of ruining them but mostly because they are beautiful beyond its functional purposes.

Ivan Crivellaro is the 21st Century Marcel Duchamp.

Marcel Duchamp was a brilliant artist most famous for his “Ready Mades”, a series of works that took common objects and took away their functionalities, forcing the viewer to appreciate all the pleasing aesthetics of the object. For instance, his famous “Fountain” work was a Urinal that was displayed in a way that could not be used. By taking away the functionality of it, a viewer can really marvel at all the curves and angles of the porcelain. His other famous work I love was “Bicycle Wheel”, where he took a wheel of a Bicycle and turned it upside down, sticking it into a stool.

Speaking of art and artists, Ivan’s signature touch is to add a painting to the soles of his shoes. His favorite would probably be any painting from Dalì. And like Dalì, Mr. Crivellaro has his admirers and, sadly, also those pesky imitators who steal looks and make counterfeit Ivan Crivellaro shoes. But while Ivan has frauds making fraud shoes and passing them off as original Crivellaro works in China and Russia and God knows where else, those cheaters could never shine Ivan’s shoes (pun and no pun intended). Could they get some artist to draw a Dali’ or Picasso or whatever on the soles to look like a Ivan Crivellaro shoe? Sure. But they would not be able to copy his new technology he has worked on that ensures the drawing stays on the soles! And even if they manage to copy that, will they be able to copy his new and brilliant talent he developed, where, by hand, he adds a 3D (three dimensional) polishing? That will drive the cheaters CRAZY!

In the end, you cannot copy the craftsmanship because that takes ACTUAL talent and talent requires hard work and passion. At that point, the cheaters might as well just try and care about a product and work hard to be true artists, like Ivan. In fact, we all know Italians have the greatest style, and so many Italians can now be shown to the world as they attend Pitti via the internet, with blogs and videos. These Italians are studied so closely, that EVERY move they make, where they put their hands, how they smoke, how they walk, how they stand, how they wear something, etc is copied by millions worldwide. Ivan is one of those Italians and the rest of the Italians are wearing Ivan Crivellaro’s shoes.

Ivan Crivellaro’s shoes are simply amazing. I always believed a great artist is not commercial but a truly great artist can play right between the worlds of art and popularity. Ivan masterfully hangs on a tightrope, on a razor’s edge, between the elegance of a formal shoe and the super colorful world of imagination. It is a dangerous place to be in because one step over and a shoe can be too rigid in character or one slip over and the shoe can be too gaudy. But Ivan magically plays it close. That takes talent and courage.

His shoes are bold and make a statement. As he becomes more famous, my main fear is that his masterpieces will be worn by the wrong people, vulgar nouveau-riche actors or “musicians” or athletes who will bring the image down. I pray this never happens.

Mr. Crivellaro has major products and projects lined up but I am not allowed to speak of them, though I await them enthusiastcially. In fact, the whole world of connoisseurs will be waiting impatiently. Put it this way : when master shoemaking companies all over the world (don’t need to drop names, but hey, John Lobb is one of them) call you a “genius”, a “true artist”, and a “master” to your face, you’re doing something right.

Piazza Life was thrilled to catch up with the most important and sought after shoemaker in the world.
N.B. Answers are in English and Italian.

N.B. Part 2  A Collage of Photos Of Ivan Crivellaro Shoes are after the Interview Questions.

1) What pushed you into the world of shoe making? You were a Pharmacist, no?

Yes, I went to Pharmacy School but before that I had been in the Military, both of which left me exasperated. Let me better explain : Since I can remember, I always had an inner desire to create, to express myself, to vent that “something” I felt inside. I painted, created different things, played instruments, I gave myself challenges to overcome but I wasn’t yet fully understood until I decided that I had enough and I saw, in shoes, a way to bring together all that I wanted : craftsmanship, creativity, expression, painting, a creation of a concept, that with the passing of time, has rendered my shoe unique and inimitable.

Vero, ho frequentato la facoltà di Farmacia, ma, in precedenza, ho fatto anche il militare. Tutto questo mi ha esasperato. Mi spiego meglio. Io, da sempre, da che ho memoria, ho avuto dentro la voglia di creare, di esprimermi, di dare sfogo a quel qualcosa che sentivo dentro. Dipingevo, creavo varie cose, suonavo, mi davo delle sfide da realizzare, ma non ero capito appieno, fino a quando ho deciso che ne avevo abbastanza e ho visto nella scarpa un modo di unire tutto quello che volevo : Manualità, Fantasia, Espressione, Dipinto, e Creazione di un concetto, che poi con il tempo ha reso unica e irriproducibile la mia scarpa.

2) You are self taught ( ! ) Explain to us the process of learning shoemaking on your own.

Yes, I am self taught. I learned the process, in small part, from a book but, for the most part, I interpreted on my own, invented, and realized with my desire to create but more so to feel satisfied with what I created. The many steps in shoemaking are too long to get into, but easy to understand when it comes to handmade shoes, and are also too complex and, for sure, secretive…the secrets that make my shoe unique.

Si, sono autodidatta. Il processo l’ho appreso in parte, ma piccola, da un libro; il grande l’ho interpretato, inventato, e realizzato con la voglia di fare, ma sopratutto di rendermi soddisfatto di quello che creavo . I processi sono lunghi da spiegare ma comuni, fino a quando si parla di scarpe fatte a mano, ma ancora più complessi e di certo segreti, quelli che rendono la scarpa che creo uniche.

3) Yours is truly an inspirational story. What can you teach others, especially young people, from your journey that could help them with theor dreams and goals?

I don’t think I can teach anything because it is something that I feel inside but for sure I can say that whoever feels that “something” inside that makes him/her feel like they belong, then that person should persevere and try to obtain the result that gives him/her joy and satisfaction. Obviously, nothing is easy, but “no pain, no gain”.

Io non credo di poter insegnare molto poiché è un qualcosa che io sentivo dentro, ma di sicuro posso dire che chiunque senta dentro di se un qualcosa che si sente appartenere, allora deve perseverare e cercare di ottenere quel risultato che gli da gioia e soddisfazione. Certamente nulla è semplice , ma non c’è premio senza aver sudato.

4) What did you take from your training as a Pharmacist and use as a shoemaker?
I assume your working with mixing and combinations at the Pharmacy came in handy when crafting a shoe.

I used and still use Chemistry for many different things, from the polishing to the dyeing that I extract from various, natural elements. This subject is complex but the most important thing is to have intuition, to undersand how to do it, and how to combine the elements to obtain your desired result.

Ho utilizzato e utilizzo la chimica per varie cose , dalla lucidatura alle tinture che mi estraggo da vari elementi naturali , il discorso è complesso , ma la cosa importante è avere intuizione , capire come fare e combinare gli elementi per ottenere il risultato.

5) What steps are involved in creating of your masterpiece shoes? How long does the whole thing take.

To create a masterpiece of a shoe that would be considered a work of art, I have to know the model and the colors of the shoe in which the client is interested. I try to understand the client’s personality and create something for him that he feels is personal. For the colors, it is more complex because it is up to the client to break down his own barriers and tell me about himself, even if it’s while we converse. With this, I reflect and create a concept just for him. The time it takes is generally 3 months, but sometimes even more, because it is not part of a whole “line” of shoes but something I create specifically for him, even if it may start off as a copy of a model I already created. We are not talking about something cold and mechanical and one of the things that could influence the time it takes to make the shoe is my mood and where my soul is at. Let’s not forget that I am doing this by myself, not just the shoemaking, but I am also the artist, the designer of the shoe, the pubic relations, the traveling. I do it all by myself.

Per creare la scarpa capolavoro da considerarla opera d’arte, ho bisogno di sapere il modello della scarpa e i colori che il cliente è interessato . Io cerco di capire la personalità del cliente e creare qualcosa che lui si sente appartenere . Per il dipinto, la cosa è più complessa perché è il cliente che deve abbattere le sue barriere e raccontarmi di lui, anche con una chiacchierata . Fatto questo, rifletto e creo un concetto tutto per lui . I tempi in genere sono quasi 3 mesi, ma capita anche di più , perché non è un prodotto in serie ma lo creo apposta anche se una copia di un modello già creato . Qui non si tratta di una cosa meccanica ed una delle cose che potrebbe influenzare i tempi è anche lo stato d’animo . Non dimentichiamo inoltre che sono da solo a fare tutto. Non solo l’artigiano, ma anche artista, designer, pubbliche relazioni , viaggiare . Insomma, mi occupo di tutto da solo .

6) What type of client is your favorite?

My ideal client is one who really wants me to create something specifically for him, who undertsands and appreciates my work and the value/quality of my shoe. My ideal client is definitely not one who is spoiled and is used to having everything right away, in which case they have chosen the wrong way of picking me as their shoemaker. 😉

Il mio cliente preferito è colui che è desidera davvero che io gli crea qualcosa per lui , che comprenda il lavoro che faccio e che valore che ha la scarpa, non di certo i viziati o chi è abituato ad avere tutto e subito , in tal caso hanno sbagliato strada. 😉

7) Favorite 3 foods :

I wouldn;t say “foods”; I would say sushi, the Mediterranean Cuisines, and anything Vegetarian.

Non direi alimenti; direi sushi, cucina mediterranea, e il vegetariano.

8) Do you believe in an After Life?

I am an atheist; I do not believe in anything after Death, but I might have to be proved wrong when I die.

Io sono ateo, non credo in niente dopo la morte , ma dovrò essere smentito sarà quando morirò.

9) Which historcial figure would you have most liked to wear your shoes?

I wouldn’t know, but defintily the soldiers who found themselves in the trenches to fight and save the lives of others. I think those shoes are really the only ones that deserve to be taken into consideration. I also think people who would have liked to wear my shoes would have been Salvador Dalì and James Pollock.

Non saprei, ma sicuramente i soldati che si sono trovati in trincea a combattere per salvaguardare la vita di altri, pensare quelle scarpe che davvero sono le uniche che davvero meritano di essere prese in considerazione . Poi, penso che una persona che avrebbe voluto indossare le mie scarpe potevano essere Salvador Dalì e James Pollock.

10) An ideal day for you is …

In the past, I had an idea of what an ideal day would have been : focused on one person. Now, my ideal day, or maybe a period in an ideal life, if I had the chance, I would spend it watching people to whom I gave work smile.

Negli anni passati davvero avevo idea diana giornata ideale, mirata verso una sola persona. Adesso, la mia giornata ideale,anzi un periodo della mia vita ideale, se avessi la possibilità, trascorrerei a vedere sorridere le persone a cui sono riuscito a dare lavoro e un futuro.

11) Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I ardently hope to give life to something big, something unique, and also have given work to many people that I call family. And thaks to them, I would be able to give.

Io, tra 10 anni, ardentemente spero di aver dato vita a qualcosa di grande, un qualcosa di unico, ed avere dato lavoro a tante persone, che chiamo la mia famiglia. E anche grazie a loro poter fare beneficenza.

12) Anybody you would like to thank?

I thank my parents, myself (who is the only one to have believed in me), and a person who is no longer by my side, that in every sense, even if not believing in me, strengthened me, making me realize that no one can udnerstand you like yourself and it’s difficult for someone else who does not feel what you have inside to ever fully understand what you are trying to build.

Ringrazio i miei genitori, me stesso, che sono davvero l’unico che ha creduto in me, ed a una persona che non è più al mio fianco, che in tutti questi anni, pur non credendo in me, mi ha rafforzato, facendomi capire che nessuno ti può capire come te stesso ed è difficile che qualcuno che non sente quello che hai dentro ti possa capire completamente quello che stai costruendo.




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