Shoes are the stuff of fairytales. From glass shoes that whisk you away into the arms of a prince to ruby red slippers that bring you home, at a very young age shoes are given that magical quality.
Eventually the fairy dust is blown away, but much to the distress of your feet and wallet shoes are still crucial to every outfit. Walking along the streets of Buenos Aires you’ll notice a lot more people looking down than looking up.
So while your prince charming might not be on the other end, the perfect glass slipper is certainly out there and here is a guide to get you started as we take a look at the Top 5 shoe designers of Argentina.
1. Ricky Sarkany
Beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder but in order to catch that, a pair of Ricky Sarkany heels will definitely do the trick. Arguably the most successful shoe designer in Argentina, Sarkany is constantly pushing the limits in style, height, colour, and material. He boldly combines neon colours and suede to create skyscraper platforms. Buckles, spikes, and sparkles adorn not only many of his stilettos but also his leather boots and flats. His designs are meant to draw attention and teeter on the ever-evolving edge of fashion.
Born on 6th September, 1961, Sarkany grew up among cardboard bits, shoe moulds, and soles. His father owned a shoe-making factory and at a very young age Sarkany began experimenting with designs and fabrics. However, it wasn’t until after university, and a degree in business administration, that shoe designing became a reality, with Sarkany realising he was more of an artist than a businessman.
“My major objective is that shoes are not considered an accessory but a critical piece of a total look,” he writes.
Now his designs attract attention from all over the world, with stores in Florida, Spain, Panama, Mexico, and Chile. As he puts it, he airs on the side of adventure rather than caution. His shoes have succeeded in attracting big name celebrities like Jennifer Lopez.
Sarkany’s store in the Alto Palermo Mall would sit nicely amidst Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona. Rows of pink shoes with sparkly gold heels and buckles, blue suede shoes that could have given Elvis a run for his money, and tan cowboy boots with purple stenciling light up the eyes of many women as they walk by. It is easy to see why his designs set the bar for the hottest shoes of the season.
Shop Ricky Sarkany at the Alto Palermo Mall, Santa Fe 3253, tel. +5411 5777-8242, www.rickysarkanay.com
2. Josefina Ferroni
If Grace Kelly were still alive it would be no great stretch to imagine her and Josefina Ferroni being the best of friends. Ferroni is the definition of class and beauty in every one of her designs. Her aesthetic is not about gluing on as many sparkles as possible but using subtle variants such as colour and texture to catch the eye. Ferroni rarely strays from the classic high heel, boot, and sandal but with her expert eye and attention to detail it is easy to see why she is garnering national attention.
Her shoes first graced the streets of Buenos Aires in October 2002 with her summer collection, although she originally launched her campaign in Barcelona, Spain. In 2003 she opened up her first store in Palermo and then in November of 2011 she moved to her new store in Recoleta. Now she has another store on Armenia street back in Palermo.
Although she is not as well known internationally, her success is steadily building and her style has been compared to Jimmy Choo. Porteños and tourists alike are attracted to her timeless pieces. As she puts it, they “belong to a blurring of time,” never falling prey to the trends of fashion that disappear as quickly as they come; one need not worry about a Ferroni shoe falling out of style in a couple of months.
Yet besides this timeless simplicity, there is always an intricate embellishment to a Ferroni shoe. Old pumps are made unique with a square patterned fabric while a leather work-shoe is decorated with a small coral tassel. A creamy mahogany brown boot is accentuated by tan stitching as a leather ballerina flat draws attention due to its bright green colour.
Her store on Armenia is simple in its design as gray walls and cream couches let her shoes do all the talking. Like everything she does, its beauty is in the details.
“It is a small work of art, without neglecting the crucial point: that is comfortable and that it can be used at all times,” writes Ferroni.
Shop Josefina Ferroni at either Armenia 1687, tel. +5411 4831 4033 or Arenales 1278 tel. +5411 5811 1951 www.josefinaferroni.com
3. Marcelo Cantón, Mishka
From designing buildings and bridges to the latest boots and low-heeled shoes, Marcelo Cantón made the leap from architect to shoes designer look like a walk in the park. Cantón is the designer behind the label Mishka, specialising in unusual heel shapes, striking textures and interesting materials which spice up a casual work-shoe.
Launched in 2001, Mishka just passed its tenth anniversary and has been celebrating great success. The brand recently launched in Britain as well as maintaining its fleet of shops across Buenos Aires. The designer has also recently debuted a clothing line, Mishka Couture.
Every season, Cantón chooses a different theme or material for inspiration in his line; in one recent season many of his shoes and bags featured tightly braided multicolour leather. His shoes often combine Argentina’s love of leather with his sense of style and structure.
“I was interested by the volumes and forms I could create with shoes, my knowledge of architecture really helps me when designing,” said Cantón in an interview with Oasis Collection.
Cantón’s shoes tend towards a retro-hip vibe which remains very feminine. He starts with a low-heeled leather work-shoe and accentuates it with bold patterns or different colours of bright leather. From long leather boots to plaid ballerina flats and floral patterned platforms he finds the perfect balance between elegant and funky. Most of his shoes can be worn to both the office and the bars of Buenos Aires.
Mishka’s store in Palermo oozes sophistication. Pumps, boots, and flats are displayed on old wooden writing desks surrounded by Cantón’s new clothing line and a creamy white chaise lounge adorns the middle of the store. It is clear to see why women are drawn to his shoes, which strike the perfect balance between sensible and hip.
Shop Marcelo Cantón at Mishka at one of its many locations in Buenos Aires, El Salvador 4673 tel. +5411 4833 6566, Paseo Alcorta 1046 tel. +5411 5777 6540, Guido 1539 tel. +5411 4816 4816, Balcarce 1011 tel. +5411 4361 5279. For more information please visit their Facebook page.
4. Ariel Crocitta, Darcos Tango
Born on the streets of Buenos Aires, tango has woven itself into the history of the city. It is believed to represent the passion and sensuality of the Argentine people. Looking graceful in heels, however, is no easy task on the dance floor or in the club. Fortunately, Ariel Crocitta is here to help, weaving magic into his beautifully crafted tango shoes at Darcos Tango.
In business for more than 30 years, the family owned shoe company is one of the most well known tango shoe stores in Buenos Aires. Professionals swear by his “magic” shoes and he is now shipping to 48 countries worldwide.
Mixing both beauty and function Crocitta promises that his hand made shoes will help you dance all night long. The bottom of the shoes is made with leather or suede that grips the floor to prevent slipping while the heel is balanced in perfect proportion to the arch. When you drop one of his tango shoes it stands straight up, wobbling for only a second.
Aside from the science, the shoes themselves are stunning, with every colour and fabric imaginable. From a deep purple and black-laced shoe with a feather, to a sultry red sequined shoe, to a delicate gold and blue paisley pattern, or the traditional black sheen, they are designed to match every outfit.
Nestled among the cobblestone streets on Sarmiento near the Obelisco, his store is instantly overwhelming. Row upon row of tango shoes await your perusing eye, every size, heel, and colour waiting for its chance to flit across a dance floor. The staff are very helpful and the shoes are organised according to size, making it very easy to find your size and then style.
Shop Ariel Crocitta at Darcos Tango at Sarmiento 835 tel. +5411 4394 0053, www.darcosdanceshoes.com
5. Luciano Bagnasco, Guido
While parading around in magnificent high heels is definitely fun, there is something to be said for a solidly built and comfortable shoe. In a country famous for its leather and hazardous sidewalks, Luciano Bagnasco has devised the perfect solution: an excellently built and stylish leather moccasin.
In the year 1952 Bagnasco started designing leather shoes. He originally started in Italy before bringing his talent to Argentina by creating one of the oldest and most renowned men’s shoe stores in Buenos Aires. Guido, named after the street the store was originally located on, specialises in creating handsome yet durable leather shoes.
The simple cuts and excellent quality of leather provides an always-stylish office shoe while also being versatile enough for an upscale evening. Guido prides itself on its attention to detail and workmanship in making the handcrafted shoes, which are mainly for men. The impossible tiny stitching is flawless and now newer styles offer a variety of leather colours. Small tassels or buckles can also decorate some shoes while a particularly daring pair of crocodile skin patterned leather can also be bought. The women’s collection is also simple and neat with the focus remaining on comfort and durability rather than high fashion.
The store itself is upscale yet realistic. No gaudy chandeliers or furniture, just shoes and chairs.
For more than 50 years, men have been buying reliable and lasting shoes at Guido’s. The Italian immigrant brought over a tradition of pride in the shoe making industry, and although the company does not keep up with the latest trends, it remains one of the most sensibly stylish in Buenos Aires.
Shop Luciano Bagnasco at Guido at one of three locations, Florida 704 tel. +5411 4322-7548, Pres Manuel Quintana 333 tel. +5411 4811-4567, or Rodriguez Pena 1290 tel. +5411 4813-4095, www.guidomocasinces.com