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Interview: Walter De Silva

"Shoes as cars are beauty elements in movement and movement is key to my designs." Born in Lecco, Italy, Walter De Silva first started his career as an industrial designer specializing in the automobile industry. He went on to become an acclaimed designer, working with the most prestigious brands in the world such as Alfa Romeo, Audi and Volkswagen. In 2016, he launched his eponymous brand together with his wife Emmanuelle to pursue his lifelong dream to create quality, elegant footwear for women. In an exclusive interview for IRK Magazine, Walter explains the difference between designing a shoe and a car, his inspiration, and the new campaign "Colorando". (by Martin Rybak and Olga Gasnier)

What inspired you to shift from being a car designer to creating shoes for women? Do you feel like you can express creativity better through the designing of shoes than of cars? 

I spent the biggest part of my career in the automotive industry but besides I have designed furnitures, lamps and many more, even a pasta so to say! Over the years I gained the necessary skills to become not only a 360° designer but also an engineer chameleon and many fields became inspirations. However designing shoes has been my long lasting dream. As a child, my grandparents worked as artisans running a small business in the women sector, producing footwear worn by the ladies of the Milanese bourgeoisie. I am today recreating a childhood dream: to succeed my grandparents’ business designing women’ shoes with as my first aim to affirm their refined authenticity, created and made in Italy.

I feel that I can express my creativity in many domains. The footwear and automotive industry are two different sectors however my motto applies to both, it is the FORM IN MOTION. Shoes as cars are beauty elements in movement and movement is key to my designs. 

How would you describe the main essence of Walter De Silva Shoes and what are the core values of the brand?

The main essence of WALTER DE SILVA SHOES is its timelessness. We live in a world ever fastening and where consumption is being questioned. I wish to design elegant styles that will remain timeless, I imagine my clientes seeing their pair of shoes as their long lasting friends accompanying them to their special events or every day occasions. Each pair is 100% created and handcrafted in Italy; all our materials, from the leather to the thread, are sourced from Italy. We aim for excellence, creating only one collection per year to fit in with our ethical fashion philosophy as well as qualitative designs. Moreover, I have studied each part of the shoe, from the heel stability to the sole inclination to create a design of perfect proportions. 

What was the idea and motivation behind working with Cami Alberti for your new campaign Colorando? 

The current situation is making travels and gatherings difficult; it is when deciding the proper way to present our Collection 2021 that the idea to work with Cami Alberti came. We already were thinking about modernising the brand and making a digital impact. We wanted to realise a virtual presentation of our COLORANDO Collection in a creative way. As stated in the Collection’s title, colours were its key feature. Cami Alberti is known for her work with primary colours and as we discovered that she started working on 3D creations we decided to do this collaboration together. Furthermore, Cami uses a lot of geometric shapes in her artworks which recalled the architectural silhouette of our shoes. Another motivation which is a personal one, is that I have always liked to work with young talents and support them throughout their creative process. 

What are the next steps and projects for you and your brand Walter De Silva Shoes? 

Firstly, our vision for the brand is to become sustainable. We are currently in the research phase, with eco fabrics such as vegan leather or how to build a strong heel with recycled materials. 

Secondly, an upcoming project is our capsule collection featuring very few models with a new squared heel of 4,5cm. We aim to expand our product range and create for the younger generation a more casual heel to a more affordable price while remaining luxury and still being 100% made in Italy. The capsule collection will be presented in February 2021.


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