(NEW YORK) You may know him as the artsy, younger brother of the First Lady of Pop, and the author of the tell-all tome, Life With My Sister Madonna, but did you also know Christopher Ciccone is foraying into footwear? The Material Boy explains.
BY MARIA DENARDO
I’ve had many careers: furniture designer, painter, photographer…Each role speaks to the others. I don’t look at designing footwear as strictly fashion—it’s artwork—so when I was approached by Novesta to start the brand, it felt like a natural thing for me. If someone asked me tomorrow to design a car for them, I’d probably say, ‘You’re crazy.’ Then I’d think, ‘Wait a minute. I can do this!’
You’re not exactly a stranger to this industry.
I’ve been involved in fashion since I was working as creative director for my sister in the beginning of her career, on tours like Blond Ambition and The Girlie Show. We always worked with brands like Gaultier and Dolce & Gabbana to try to find things ahead of the curve for her to perform in.
When did your love affair with shoes start?
In the ‘70s, my mother bought me my first pair of platforms. I wore them with a polyester shirt with really puffy sleeves. Mind you, these weren’t high platforms. I have a pair that are seven inches tall that I wear from time to time.
What was the learning curve like?
Thank God for YouTube! I got my education watching videos, about everything from how a shoe is made to what rubber can and can’t do. I’ve also spent a lot of time looking at the current fashion shows to see what designers are sending down the runway. There has to be some sort of connection to what people are wearing on their bodies and on their feet.
Who’s your number-one cheerleader?
Michael Atmore from Footwear News has been incredibly supportive. This would have been more difficult without his help.
Was your last name always a front runner for a brand name?
Ciccone seemed like the logical, and only, choice for me. And it has recognition, so why wouldn’t I use it?
Describe your aesthetic.
I do my best to avoid trendy things. My brand is about modern classics reinvented. Obviously, we’ll keep up with what’s in fashion, and it does matter, but it’s more important to design staples you won’t get tired of in two months.
What’s your business strategy for the first year?
I’m focused on expanding my offering so there’s more choice for larger retailers like Nordstrom or Macy’s. We sell online and in Europe right now. My North American launch will really happen in August.
Are you expanding into new categories as well?
This is just the beginning of a lifestyle brand. We added high heels and outerwear to our latest collection. Each season, I’ll add something new. I’d eventually like to see The Ciccone Collection become more like a modern, hipper version of Ralph Lauren. I’m not looking to produce leather chairs and cowboys on horseback. It’s about having a point of view and reaching a large audience.
Who is your audience?
My ideal client lives everywhere and is every age. We design for men, women, and children at a mid-level price point.
You’re based in L.A. Where do you produce?
Everything is made in Slovakia right now, but with the new categories, we’re expanding into Europe for more suppliers. They need the jobs anyway!
Has Madonna worn anything from The Ciccone Collection yet?
I’m putting a package together and sending her one of everything. I think she’d like the “Stelia” the best. It’s a new leather knee-high boot that’s right up her alley.