It’s no secret that shoes and jewellery are two of my absolute favourite things in the world, so when I found out that cult jewellery brand Alighieri was launching a shoe collection for its fifth anniversary, I was in heaven. Which is quite ironic really, seeing as its inspiration is taken from Dante Alighieri’s ‘Divine Comedy’, a collection of poems detailing Dante’s journey through the realms, including hell.
Launching on NET-A-PORTER and Alighieri.co.uk, the capsule of three flat espadrille styles, designed for the Alighieri community to walk with the courage of a lion.
It’s symbolic for Rosh Mahtani, who told me recently about her Leone medallions, ‘It was one of the first pieces that we made. The story behind it is the first Canto in the divine comedy, when Dante wakes up in the wood, he’s confronted by this terrifying lion. Dante turns on his heel, thinking he’s not brave or strong enough, then his guide Virgil appears and helps him. It’s a moment where complete fear turns to courage, so I made the medallion and since then women have been writing in and saying what it means to them, one woman wrote she was buying it for her really ill mum, women of all ages and all parts of the world, it’s a real community, the lion club.’
It’s a story that resonates with the designer, who herself has faced challenges along the way. She says, ‘At the time, I felt I was in a dark place, I was struggling with depression and couldn’t go out of bed, this gave me a purpose, a way of healing, an I wanted to be honest about that. That’s why my pieces aren’t perfect. We’re always comparing ourselves, I wanted to create a brand that was about those discarded, battered things. That’s what the brand is about for me, telling that story.’
Each pair comes with a medallion attached to it, ranging from the iconic lion charm to a pearl one, which can be worn as an anklet or a necklace. So really, you’re getting two in one.
Rosh says, ‘When you retire your espadrille for the summer, you can slide the talismans off the ribbon and add them to your necklace layers in the winter.’
The espadrilles themselves are inspired by another one of the designer’s favourite artists, Salvador Dalì. She looked at the way he wore his espadrilles in the French Riviera, in Paris, and on the rocks of Cadaques, and sought out the artisans in Barcelona who used to fabricate Dalì’s very shoes, and convinced them to work with us.
The result is an entirely wearable and timeless style that will look great paired with a linen summer dress. But despite her success, Rosh remains humble. ‘I don’t think I’ll every feel I’ve made it, imposter syndrome is so real,’ she says.
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