Three years ago, when the stylist Erica Pelosini married footwear designer Louis Leeman in Capri, Italy, she had one stern request: tassels. Her wedding dress, designed by Peter Dundas, then the creative director of Pucci, was adorned by delicate fringe cords across the lattice criss-cross neckline, while her white, lace-up pumps, made by Aquazzura’s Edgardo Osorio, furthered the fantasy, with tiny tassels carefully placed above the ankle. “I’m just obsessed with them!” Pelosini shouts over the phone today. She’s calling from a windy island nearly half-a-day away from the coast of mainland Greece. In a few hours she’d be in Mykonos for friend and fellow shoe designer Bryan Atwood’s birthday, but for now, beside the shimmering Mediterranean waters, she is adding the finished touches to her very own collection, Miss Leeman, designed alongside her husband. Her favorite pair? A simple pair of tasseled out sandals, of course.
Though the two have been working together for the past few years on Louis Leeman the brand, a line of super-luxe men’s shoes handcrafted the Italian way, the new collection marks their first, completely realized line for women after special projects with Roberto Cavalli and Mary Katrantzou in the past. The transition, however, was not so challenging for Pelosini, a self-professed shoe-addict, who owns no less than 2,000 shoes at one time and whose closest circle—largely shoe and fashion designers—have named many pieces in her honor. “My whole life I’ve always collected shoes,” she says. “I look at them as their own form of art.”
It was in fact a collaboration with Katrantzou—a bow-embellished slipper that appeared on the Greek designer’s Fall 2017 runway—that previewed Miss Leeman’s premiere the following day this past February in London. Revealed at Mark’s Club, a noted members-only club from the ’70s in a cozy Mayfair townhouse, the idea was to welcome life to the line as if it were a private home. Pearl-applied loafers and shiny velvet boots—which recalled ancient embroideries from the Byzantine period—were seen as bites of brunch while posh high tea was served. The designer floated through the space perfectly outfitted, sharing thoughts of the creations, each a personal monument in some way or another. A simple black suede sandal silhouette, for instance, was enlivened by a fringe top-strap. “The right detail really makes the shape stand out,” Pelosini smiles.
This first collection, which debuts in stores this fall, pulls details from the ancient cities of Costantinopole, Tyre and Antiochia, and was inspired—like much of the husband-and-wife’s life—by travel. “Louis is from Holland, I’m from Italy. Our studio is in Florence, but our home is in America. We are always on the road,” says Pelosini, who is from Greece. “There is no better inspiration than traveling. I love going to different countries and walking around, discovering—there is culture everywhere. Of course, I’m always wearing the right shoes when I do so.”
Main image: Erica Pelosini and her husband, Louis Leeman