While every traveler knows that heels are not the ideal shoes for exploring new cities, there truly is something magical about a new pair of artfully crafted shoes that inspires wanderlust and insights inspiration. With fashion month in full swing, we checked in with one of our favorite shoe designers, Manfredi Manara about how he started designing shoes, his inspiration, and what makes his designs so unique. 

Manfredi Conti Manara, Designer of Manfredi Manara Shoes @manfredi.manara

Where did you get started? / What’s your fashion background?

After graduating from London College of Fashion and dabbling in various fields of fashion including public relations, production and buying, I realised firsthand how significant shoes are for women, but there was no brand that was offering the right balance of dreamy fantasy and flattering wearability, so I set out to create an alternative.

Where do you draw inspiration for your shoes from?

Literally everywhere, from period dramas, to vintage fashion photographs, to Renaissance painting. At the moment, I am into Baroque architecture and intricate patisserie design; I like to re-interpret these decorations in my shoe designs by using tiny precious fabric trims.

What makes your brand stand out from your competitors?

There is a trend now for quite androgynous, quite aggressive fashion. I take care to design very delicate and feminine shoes, which flatter the feet and ultimately the wearer. I like to think of them as shoes for a modern princess. Also everything, and I mean everything, is handmade in Italy, including the fabrics and leathers.

Where can we buy your shoes?

Currently the collection is available in select boutiques throughout Italy only, such as No30 in Milan’s Via della Spiga but exciting online partnerships are coming up for international clients as well, so stay tuned.

Where do you see the Manfredi Manara brand going next?

The next logical step would be bridal – perhaps because they only ever get worn once in a lifetime is precisely why bridal shoes have to be so incredibly precious and special.

What are the top three places you always send visitors in Milan?

10 Corso Como is always on the list for seeing what new accessories they have and especially for art and design book browsing. Both the Museo Poldi Pezzoli and Museo Bagatti Valsecchi are an aesthetes delight. For aperitivo Dry in Brera and for dinner Osteria Del Binari with its lovely covered patio.

What’s your favorite place to travel? Where are your next travels / on your bucket list?

A recent trip to Japan was possibly one of my most memorable. Everything from the people to the architecture, the nature, the technology, is so completely different from any other place. Everything is beyond clean and functional. Next, I would love to visit the edges of the desert in Morocco.

What advice do you have for those trying to get into retail?

Find a business partner, colleague or employee who can complement your skill set, whatever those may be. Build a team, collaborate; no man is an island.