Designer spotlight: Interview with Cesare Casadei

Designer spotlight: Interview with Cesare Casadei

Family-owned label

Text: Andrea Sim

Image: Casadei,

The creative director reveals the rich history of Casadei's elegant footwear and his childhood growing up in the family shoe factory


Casadei might not be a household name that strikes a chord with the everyman, but the footwear fanatic who knows her labels like the back of her hand will most definitely have the brand's sculptural designs amongst her footwear arsenal. 

From humble beginnings designing sandals for tourists on the Italian Riviera, the brand has come a long way from its modest shoreside origins. They are now known for kitting out red carpet tastemakers in their luxe and sexy heels. Those five inch stilettos that Cara Delevingne and Jessica Alba don? That's Casadei right there. 

At the helm is creative director Cesare Casadei who practically grew up in the family's shoe factory built by his parents, having spent his out-of-school hours immersed in the fine Italian craftsmanship. He took over the reigns of the label in 1994, and has kept its core ethos alive with alluring designs. If Justin Timberlake's SexyBack were a shoe, it would be the Casadei Blade Cappa with its lush curves and sleek edges. 

For a peek behind the modern yet glamourous aesthetic of the brand, read on to find out more about Casadei over the years and what sets their stilettos apart from those of another label.

I must say that Casadei shoes are true masterpieces of seduction. 

Tell us about the history of Casadei and your childhood.
Casadei was founded in 1958, in a small workshop in San Mauro Pascoli where my parents created the first collection of sandals designed for tourists holidaying on the Italian Riviera. Now the same factory has a headcount of more than 300 employees. The factory was my parents' lives really, and it was also their house as they lived right beside it. I lived and grew up in a shoe factory and shoes have been part of my life since day one. I joined the family company in the 80s and first worked for the retail department which gave me a clear understanding of our clients and their approach towards our products. Very soon, I got involved in the creative process and it was in 1994 that I became creative director of Casadei. 


Who is the Casadei woman?
I must say that Casadei shoes are true masterpieces of seduction. Women who choose to  wear them must be not afraid to take center stage. I look towards the future to find new forms and structures that can give the woman who wears Casadei new emotions and I always want to create shoes that are incredibly feminine. The most important aspect of a woman who chooses to wear Casadei is to be open and attentive towards new proposals and high quality, which are the distinctive elements of the brand.  

What do you hope to achieve with your designs?
Definitely the satisfaction and happiness of women.

What do you think the modern woman looks for in a pair of shoes, and how should it make her feel?
Modern women always need to achieve a balance between beauty and elegance, and the ability to stand and walk in their shoes. It's extremely important to create this balance. I cherish the technique inherited from my father which beautifully unifies great designs with wearability. As he always said, "Don't create shoes that women cannot walk in".

What are your inspirations when it comes to design, in particular the Cappa?
The Casadei Cape collection for the fall/winter 2015 season draws inspiration from the geometric and futurist Parisian couture of Pierre Cardin. It has been translated into new forms of wave-shaped pumps and booties, and aerial sculptures envelope the foot in spirals of coloured different fabrics.

You take pride in the craft process of Casadei shoes. What sets them apart from shoes produced by another label?
I continuously research new techniques, materials and elements to achieve a light structure in my shoe designs. The Blade heel is a perfect example — the skyscraper stainless steel heel construction is balanced by a hidden plateau. I work closely with my team to develop the best technique to deliver comfortable shoes without compromising elegance and beauty. There are so many artisanal secrets that I cannot reveal as  they are part of the 60-year family tradition! Research of design, attention to quality and details, and always looking towards the future are the distinctive elements of the Casadei brand.

What is the fondest memory you have in relation to Casadei?
When I was a child and had just got home from school, I used to have an afternoon nap lying on the stack of leather piles in the leather wear house. It was how I refreshed myself as it's the only cool place in the factory because leather is kept in a dark room to preserve it well.

What do you look to achieve in the near future with the brand?
My future plans are to evolve, expand and  continue to fuel my passion for women's shoes. And of course, I wish that my children will follow my footsteps; my daughter already works in the company.

What type of shoes do you personally like to wear?
I am literally obsessed with sneakers. Casadei sneakers of course. But I also love to wear those from Nike.