August 20 2014

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Five Questions for Alejandro Ingelmo


Women love shoes. It’s a love affair that’s been chronicled in detail over the course of six television seasons and one feature film edition of Sex and the City, so there’s really no need to belabor the point. A more interesting matter is wondering what new designer, if any, might find his
footwear fetishized by a connoisseur on par with Carrie Bradshaw. The smart money is on Alejandro Ingelmo. The New York-based designer has footwear in the blood. His grandfather owned a shoe business in Cuba, and his great-grandfather cobbled in Spain. And since launching his brand in 2006, Ingelmo has taken that pedigree and run with it. While it’s Ingelmo’sinstantly covetable and often fantastical stilettos that made his name, the designer is now showing a more practical side. He’s branched out into super-luxe flats and decadent sneakers—the lattermost, however, are
currently just for men. This year, he was tapped as a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award. The winner of the 2008 prize will be announced November 17; in the meantime, Ingelmo answers’s questions about life in the Top Ten.

What made you want to be a designer?

I don’t really consider myself a designer. I think I’m just someone observing the world, and turning those observations into something functional. For me it’s about creating, inventing, and interpreting your surroundings—not that different from translating a book into another language.

What was the scariest moment of the CFDA/Vogue process?

I haven’t really been scared, but making the shoe for the L’Oréal
Project…making it from scratch, that was a challenge. I was carrying it around, like, you know those hearts they put in a cooler and airlift to a transplant patient? I was carrying it straight from Italy to [the] Vogue offices like that.

If you do win the award, what’s the first thing you’re going to do with the prize money?

Hire a full-time production manager in Italy and a PR company.

Speaking of money, where did your first funding come from?

I funded the business myself the first year. Since then, I have been borrowing money from my family.

How do you rate your chances for taking home this year’s award?

I’m not going to lie: I want to win. But everything in life happens for a reason, so if I don’t win this award, then it just wasn’t in the cards. But it would be nice if it is!

Photo: Neil Rasmus/Patrick McMullan