Inspired by the lotus flower, these quality shoes will make you feel elegant and fancy. “In 2014, I founded the footwear label Elegnano, but my love for shoes started long before that. The four-year-old me built a shoe shop in front of the garage and spent hours underneath tables in aisles to look at the shoes of people walking by. But focusing on school and science, I ended up studying engineering. In 2010 I graduated with a master’s degree in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the University of Leuven. After my studies I started a PhD in Sciences, in combination with studies in Footwear Design at the Academy of Fine Arts of Sint-Niklaas. My interest in shoes kept growing, so I took specialized classes in Fashion Footwear Design at London College of Fashion (UK), Polimoda (Italy), Prescot & McKay (UK) and SLEM (Netherlands). The eccentric collections I designed for the Academy were shown in various exhibitions, fairs and fashion shows in Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, London and Paris. In 2013 I was nominated for the Global Footwear Design Award. In 2014 I became semi-finalist in the prestigious Muuse x Vogue Talents – Young Vision Award Accessories. After graduating in Footwear Design, I decided it was time to make my childhood dream come true by starting my own shoebrand, Elegnano.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee… that is what the brand Elegnano stands for. Elegnano offers elegant, exclusive women’s shoes of the highest quality for women that are fashionable and graceful, but also know what they want in life. Walking through life effortless and elegant, but strong and sharp at the same time. Elegnano wants every woman to move gracefully through life – like a fairy or a butterfly – without exchanging elegance and femininity for comfort and resilience. Technological innovation and modern design make this possible.
Elegnano is literally, and figuratively a fusion of the words elegance and nanotechnology. The Italian craftmenship and high-tech innovation are brought together in unique designs. The design studio is based in Belgium. A lot of attention is paid to the right fit and materials of the shoes.”
What’s the concept of your latest collection? The collection is inspired by the lotus flower. This is most visible in the heel of the shoes. From the back they take the elegant, and stylized look of a closed lotus flower, whereas the looking at it from the side illustrates the opening of the flower. But also, the ballerina flats show the same play of lines and flow, that is inspired by the lotus flower. Overall the lotus is also a symbol of elegance and pureness. It is beautiful and immaculate, even in mud pools. That is also what the collection stands for. It doesn’t matter if it is raining outside and you have an off-day, wearing little jewels on your feet, in soft leather, with a refined touch, will give you an instant feeling of elegance and joy.
What’s the role of a great pair of shoes for a woman? You don’t just wear shoes, they carry you. For me, shoes have the capability to immediately set your mood. No one can deny that it is a completely different feeling to walk around in sneakers or high heels (and I am not talking about the kind that hurt your feet). If I want to feel feminine and elegant, no matter what the outfit is, I put on some heels. If I want to be all over the place and youthful, I’ll put on some ballerina flats or sneakers. Every shoecloset should contain a couple of really good, beautiful and well-maintained shoes, in the basic styles that fit your personality. I might have overdone it in the number of shoes that I own, but the bottom line is the same. The high quality shoes, still look good after years, they feel comfortable when I put them on, and they set the mood of my day.
How do you choose your materials and how do you work with them? Only top-quality materials are personally selected with great care. The exclusive leather goods are handmade in the Marche in Italy, known worldwide for producing high quality footwear. The contemporary and innovative nature of Elegnano is emphasized by the design and the use of modern technological developments. Nanotechnology is for example integrated at the level of leather technology to improve the quality, comfort and durability of the collections. The design itself has a lot of flowing lines and stitching. All those small pieces is a good way to use the leather optimally. Leather is a precious and luxurious material, but due to its non-geometrical shape, a bad design results in a lot of waste. I try to avoid that by overthinking the design and build it from a lot of smaller pieces.
What’s the future of fashion according to you? I strongly believe in the functional integration of technology in fashion. It doesn’t have to be ‘out-of-the-box’, and definitely not gadget-like. As a designer, I try to create things that would really make the product easier and more comfortable to wear or maintain. There are a lot of possibilities today, technological developments and innovations find their way into athletic or military applications, but very limited and rarely in everyday wear. The integration of technology in fashion can go hand in hand with making our footwear and clothing more durable and sustainable.
What’s your next project? From the start of Elegnano, it has been all about timeless and elegant collections with innovative technologies. The leather we use is already water and dirt-repellant, so you don’t have to clean the shoes. But there is a lot more to be done, to make shoes, and high heels in particular, toilless and carefree. I am investigating technologies that would make them scratch resistant, slow down wear and tear of the outsoles etc. Until now Elegnano only brought women’s shoes on the market, but I would love to design a men’s collection too in the near future.