SW1 Shows Off Some Skin

Published March 28, 2012

“I always like to draw attention to the back of a shoe,” says Alvaro Gonzalez, the creative director of Stuart Weitzman’s new luxury shoe and handbag line, SW1. “When a woman leaves the room, it’s more important than when she enters. Boys, girls, they always look at a woman from behind. It’s the most interesting part!” Gonzalez’s philosophy reigns in SW1’s debut range of shoes, which includes jewel-toned suede pumps with handmade resin mosaic heels, spiraling stilettoes and satin Mary Janes that reveal a hint of the wearer’s leg via slit petal detailing above the heel. “I’m always trying to show off skin,” says Gonzalez, adding that the shoes are “very naughty, but very sweet at the same time.”   Gonzalez—who, it should be noted, is the first creative director Weitzman has ever appointed during his 25-year reign—has a proven track record in the realm of luxe, sexy accessories. In the 80s, the designer studied with Cristóbal Balenciaga’s seamstresses at the University of Madrid. “It was two sisters and, after Balenciaga closed his atelier in 1968, they decided to come and give us lessons because they felt they had to transmit this knowledge. It was quite amazing,” he recalls. He went on to become the accessories designer at Valentino in 1996 and, most recently, finished an eight-year stint as the accessories design director at Jimmy Choo. So it’s no surprise that Weitzman had had his eye on the skilled Spaniard for quite some time. “He’s a great guy who’s just so full of energy,” says Gonzalez of his new boss. “He approached me with a clear project, and I believe that this is the time of Stuart Weitzman.”   Prior to accepting his post at SW1, Gonzalez, who’s based between Florence and London, had taken a yearlong hiatus from fashion to complete renovations on his 13th-century Florentine home. “At one time, I actually wanted to work in architecture. And I love sculpture,” says the designer. Research he did for his new abode, as well as his appreciation for the work of Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, were strong influences in his debut collection.   According to the designer, SW1, which is named not only for Stuart Weitzman, but also for the prestigious London postcode South West One, is crafted for a woman who “loves fashion and novelty and wants something different.” The collection’s fall looks feature strong lines, innovative shapes, and a deco edge. In addition to his heel-centric shoes and boots, Gonzalez offers a series of cool, elegant handbags, like sharp, geometric leather minaudières and rhomboid envelope clutches in satin with electric metallic piping, sumptuous python, or water snake (he’s an expert in exotics). A classy range of graphic calfskin bags is available in winter pastels, like dusty rose and canary. But Gonzalez is especially proud of the Frazzle bag, which was designed specially to fit an iPad. “It came entirely from a need for function, but the shape is one of my favorites,” he says. The Frazzle comes complete with a combination lock closure. Cleverly, the code to unlock the handy little purse is—what else?—SW1.