Blades of Glory

Casadei’s new Albemarle Street flagship boutique is a modern masterpiece – the perfect backdrop to its signature ‘Blade’ heels.

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Cesare Casadei

Cesare Casadei is holding court in the plush lounge area of his new 120 square metre London flagship. A steady stream of fashion journalists trickles in to interview him and then finally, it’s my turn to join the Italian shoe maestro on the petroleum-coloured sofa. Comfortably perched, I try my best not to get too distracted by the flickering video screen, which covers an entire wall in front of us. ‘Desire Lines’, a specially commissioned fashion film directed by New York-based filmmaker Sue de Beer and featuring electro pop act, ‘Say Lou Lou’, is playing loudly on loop. The girl’s makeup – all blue eye shadow and red lips, together with Casadei’s brightly-coloured pumps, instantly transports me back to the Fiorucci era.

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Cesare is enjoying the film’s pulsating beats. Incidentally, the Casadei business, which he reigns over, is set on the outskirts of Rimini on the Adriatic Riviera, otherwise known as Italy’s disco heartland. His twenty-something daughter Arianna, who plays a key role in the business, is quick to note her father’s diverse musical taste, which ranges from funk to punk.

As with most Italian accessories brands, Casadei is a family affair. As well as Arianna, Cesare’s wife and cousins also play their part in the business, which was started in 1958 by his parents, Quinto and Flora Casadei. Back then, calfskin sandals set on kitten heels were all the rage. Cesare, meanwhile, stepped into his parent shoes in the mid-eighties. In addition to family, there’s also the expertise of the employees. One of Casadei’s longest serving is Oriana, a skilled embroiderer. “She has been with the company since the very beginning and carries out the majority of hand-embroidery motifs in exquisite detail,” notes Cesare

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Meanwhile, the London store boasts a distinctive in-store design concept created by Italian architect Marco Costanzi. It houses Casadei’s daywear, evening, red carpet and bridal collections, in addition to a selection of Spring/Summer 2017 preview styles that will be exclusive to the London flagship store until early next year. Other notable designs include the ‘techno Blade’ – the latest version of the ‘Blade’, which its creator Cesare describes as “a steel heel, as sharp as a razorblade.” Today, the signature heel comes in five different heel heights and appears on pumps, sandals, booties, even over-the-knee boots. Then there is the ‘Tank’, so called because of its cleated sole, and the Atelier, an elegant pump covered in Swarovski crystals.

This past year has seen multiple store openings for the Casadei brand including, Moscow, Shanghai, Vietnam and Mongolia. As for Mayfair, Cesare is clearly delighted with the new space. “Bond Street is one of the most beautiful streets in the world, but then we saw a number of fashion and accessories brands were opening on Albemarle Street, so we decided to try something new,” he says.

At the store’s opening night, guests included models Daisy Lowe and Portia Freeman, actress Camilla Rutherford, the aforementioned Say Lou Lou and style blogger Susie Lau. “I love seeing the metamorphosis that women go through on a daily basis, how they go from day-to-evening with the addition of a jacket, a lipstick and a pair of heels,” concluded Cesare.

Casadei, 48 Albemarle Street

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