Art&Style Design

Villa Foscarini Rossi

And the Shoe Museum

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets

In Stra, a beautiful 17th-century villa houses an original museum, part of the LVMH group, which tells the story of high-end footwear from 1947 to today through Rossimoda's most prestigious collaborations.

On the world map of luxury, Veneto, and more precisely the Riviera del Brenta, between Padua and Venice, is famous for the production of the most spectacular shoes in the world, so much so that it was chosen as the production headquarters by LVMH, as well that Chanel and Kering.

Created in 1947 by Narciso Rossi, Rossimoda, now part of the LVMH group, is one of the artisan companies that has marked the history of the footwear sector, thanks to collaborations with the greatest designers and stylists. Precisely to celebrate this precious past, in 1993 Luigino, son of Narciso, decided to open the Shoe Museum inside the Villa Foscarini Rossi, built in Stra at the behest of the Venetian nobleman Jacopo Foscarini.

Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets
Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets

Wearing your dreams on your feet is the best way to start making them come true.

(Roger Vivier)

To emphasize the importance of his family, which had given the Serenissima Republic of Venice a Capitano da Mar and a Doge, famous architects were called such as Vincenzo Scamozzi, Francesco Contini, Giuseppe Jappelli, as well as painters and decorators such as Pietro Liberi and Domenico de Bruni. The marvelous complex today sees its spearhead in the Salone delle Feste, with frescoes dating back to 1652, which overlooks a suggestive portico, the protagonist of many fairytale parties.

The museum brings together a collection of over 1,350 luxury women’s shoes produced by Rossimoda shoe factory from 1947 to the present day, including many precious one-of-a-kind pieces, as well as a digital archive where 17,800 shoe models are kept. An immense treasure of history that explains why the museum is today among the most popular research destinations for designers and style offices from all over the world.

Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets

The exhibition begins on the ground floor of the villa with Luigino Rossi’s personal collection of both antique and ethnic footwear, a passion fueled over the years during his business trips. A reflection on how footwear represented a real social language in all ages and civilizations, as evidenced, for example, by the Native American moccasins which, based on the color and decoration of the beads, reveal both the tribe they belong to and the role covered.

The following rooms take us to the period of the vertiginous rise of Rossimoda. Paris is the place to be and so, in the early 1960s, Luigino Rossi, who from 1956 together with his brothers Dino and Diego joined his father Narciso in the company, went to the French capital to do some “research”. On one occasion, he entered a shoe boutique of Jourdan, a couturier who at the time collaborated with Christian Dior, and asks to see a model pretending it was for his wife. It so happens that Roland Jourdan himself was in the shop that day and Luigino started chatting with him, revealing that he was an expert in the art of footwear. Following this lucky meeting, it thus began the first collaboration with Dior which was followed in 1963 by the first exclusive license agreement, which lasted 38 years, from 1963 to 2000, with the young Yves Saint Laurent who, having left the Dior atelier, created his own fashion house.

Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets
Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets

An important piece of fashion history is hidden behind every shoe displayed in the museum. Like the Pilgrim designed by Roger Vivier for Yves Saint Laurent in the early 60s that became a style icon thanks to the actress Catherine Deneuve in the film Belle de Jour.

Or the 1967 Dior model in cannage created by Marc Bohan, then creative director of the Maison, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Dior’s first show and inspired by the Vienna straw Médaillon chair used for the legendary event.

Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets
Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets

On display, we also find the boots that Yves Saint Laurent used in his legendary “African” shots for Vogue in 1968 with a splendid Veruschka wearing a safari jacket and which, by launching the boot mania, will push Rossimoda further into the Olympus of Fashion.

While in 1977, thanks to Luigino Rossi’s friendship with Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, whom he met at a YSL fashion show, the first unisex car shoe was born, inspired by the Porsche Carrera 911 with a sole carved like the Pirelli P6 tyre.

Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets
Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets

In the 90s the style of Karl Lagerfeld reigned, who loved to dialogue with his collaborators by sending hand-drawn sketches (which we see hanging on the walls of the museum with the hand-written translation from French to Italian) and the rigorous, sporty chic forms of Calvin Klein. The icons of the 2000s follow, such as the sandals with golden laces by Donna Karan or the metropolitan gladiator models that decreed the second life and global success of the Givenchy brand.

Moving towards the present day, the room dedicated to the designer Nicholas Kirkwood stands out and, in particular, the collection he created in 2015 to celebrate his first 10 years in the world of fashion, inspired by his childhood memories. A brilliant reference to the games and films of the 80s, we find memorable models on display such as the Arcade dedicated to Pac-Man, the NKPO, inspired by the C-3PO robot, or the Millenium Butterfly, a tribute to the Millenium Falcon, both icons of the Star Wars saga.

Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets
Villa Foscarini Rossi and the Shoe Museum — Veneto Secrets

Today Villa Foscarini Rossi is led by Luigino’s daughter, Cristina, guardian of tradition and creator of extraordinary parties, while the curator of the museum is the shoe historian Federica Rossi who, together with her team, will be able to lead you through truly memorable guided tours among anecdotes and secrets of the history of fashion.

The Secret

In the collection, there are also important models designed by Roger Vivier who received the honor of making the shoes worn by Her Majesty Elizabeth II on her coronation day, June 2, 1953. Defined as the greatest “shoe designer” of all time, he also invented the “choc heel”, the first in 1959 to rise to 10 cm, compared to the 6 cm to which the market was accustomed, thus launching the future fashion of the stiletto heels.

Useful Info

Museo della Calzatura
c/o Villa Foscarini Rossi
Via Doge Pisani 1/2
30039 Stra, Venezia
Tel. +39 049 9801091

Entrance: 7 euro
Reduced ticket: 5 euro

Admission with guided tour: 7 + 50 euro (by reservation only, up to 20 pax)

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