Craftsmanship. That’s how I would describe Rocco P.’s capsule collection, made specifically for his longtime friend and collaborator George C. of Yorkville’s George C. boutique. Silver inspires the latest collection created for the luxury boutique’s 10th anniversary party. A decade of style, class, and taste.
Rocco P., Italian shoe designer extraordinaire, is a soft-spoken man with immaculate style and a gentle presence. I sat down with Rocco P. in the lower level of the George C. boutique to speak with the designer about why he does what he does and what craftsmanship means to him.
“First of all,” he begins, “the most difficult part of my work is to do something that lasts for a long time.”
Rocco P.’s team of 34 people produce about 60 pairs of shoes a day. The 40-step process begins with Rocco P., himself.
“I work every single day, 24 hours a day. I have my notebook next to me when I sleep. If I have a dream, if I think about something, I sketch it out.” He says he’s able to create the prototype in real time, in about two hours at the shop.
“But thinking about it — the creation. I care personally about the shape. I do the shape myself. Because comfort is the main thing.” Rocco P.’s shoes are not only timeless and well-crafted, but they also have the wearer in mind. That’s music to any man or woman’s ears (and feet) who’ve taken their shoes off at the end of the day and have breathed a deep sigh of relief.
Once Rocco P. creates the prototype, the shoe is tested by a few lucky individuals for around six months. He receives feedback from these individuals and makes the necessary changes. The shoe then goes into production. “Some days, [we produce] 50 pairs [instead of 60],” says Rocco P. “What’s important is that every single piece has to be perfect.”
It is obvious that one of his main concerns is quality. When Rocco P. took over his father’s business, he wanted to create pieces that conjured a timeless quality and timelessness required a dedication to both the idea and concept of the shoe and its manifestation — the texture, the feel, the comfort, a tangible creation from his Moleskin notebooks to the wardrobe of his clients.
He describes his shoes not as an accessory but as the foundation of a well-curated wardrobe. “You can build up [from the shoe]. Because you can go to the market and buy a jacket or jeans for $20 and if you put on the right shoe—your $20 jeans become wow. But if you spend $20,000 and you choose the wrong shoe …
It’s over, I say.
“It’s over,” he repeats. “This is what I think. My shoes aren’t accessories. They’re the foundation.”
He tells me that his creative process may seem counterintuitive. “I want to sophisticate people. I want the shoes to choose the customer. I have an opposite vision.” The shoes to choose the customer. It seems the shoes do choose the customer. Many of Rocco P.’s clients still wear his shoes a decade later. Some of his well-known clientele include Madonna, Sofia Coppola, and Gary Oldman.
Even with the hefty cast of celebrity customers (and lesser gods) who swear by his shoes, and even with his gentle demeanour, there’s a true and intrinsic passion that radiates from Rocco P. and which manifests itself in his work.
“There are people that go to work every morning and say, One more day of work. I look forward to work every morning. I look forward to waking up every morning and getting to work.” All of Rocco P.’s avid fans would certainly say ‘Ahem to that.’