Alfredo Pīferi Left Menswear to Create Shoes For Women

The designer is repping all of Disney’s famous characters

Alfredo Pīferi Left Menswear to Create Shoes For Women
Yaseen Dockrat

After starting as a menswear designer, Alfredo Pīferi turned to shoes when he discovered that shoe-making has similar elements to his first passion – architecture. Leaving menswear, he went on to work at some of the most renowned fashion houses in the world. The knowledge and experience gained during this time allowed him to develop a sense of design that would see him create his own brand, Pīferi and let free his creative mind. Alfredo Pīferi talks to YUNG about his life, his shoes and Disney – the source of his inspiration.


Let’s begin with a little background information, tell me a little about Alfredo Pīferi .

I started as a menswear designer, which was my first passion. After graduating from school, I got a job at Valentino, and it is where I realized I love shoes. The three-dimensional aspect of shoes fascinated me. As a child, I wanted to be an architect, but I was terrible at mathematics, ha-ha! So, I was drawn to the architectural element of shoes, and I searched for a job where I could work in shoes. I found one at Versace, where I learned how to make shoes from their construction to the heel and the uppers, basically, everything that concerned shoes.

From Versace, I went on to consult for some brands and later found work at Jimmy Choo, which was the most solid experience for me. The five years at Jimmy Choo made the biggest mark on my experience and taste. Although, after five years I realized I didn’t want to work with other brands, and I started Pīferi.

Architecture has many design elements, and several designers studied architecture, can you elaborate on the design and constructional elements?

Shoes are very similar to buildings in that it needs to hold weight, and have balance, it’s also three-dimensional – an object you can look at from different sides, these are the main similarities I find. When you start working on shoes, the first thing you do is the last, then you create the heel. The process begins with a block of resin and then it is shaped and moulded, so again it’s three-dimensional.


Where do you derive inspiration from?

I’m not the kind of designer who does mood boards, it’s more a mash-up of what I’ve seen – a woman wearing beautiful shoes, or a movie scene that stuck with me. It’s a mash-up of thoughts and sensations. There’s also inspiration from real characters, women that I encounter, those around me, and my customers. I’m thinking about what they want, and what they expect from Pīferi. To me, the shoes must be beautiful, and creative and have a strong commercial element, too. I’m involved in the commercial side too, and I always ensure that many women are represented in a collection. Pīferi is for all women.

Is there one character that you’d name a shoe after?

My shoes and collections are all inspired by characters. For example, I called one Tremaine, who is Cinderella’s stepmother. Then I have Upanova, the ostrich dancer from Fantasia. It’s all characters. If you look at the shoes and their names you will realize the characters. Many of these are villains from Disney because to me they are the most glamorous.

Now, If I may, we are working on a shoe that celebrates the 10th anniversary of Level Shoes in Dubai. The shoe is an ode to the city – it’s fully embellished, and is called Theodora, who was a poor woman that scaled her way up to becoming Empress of the Byzantine Empire. She was a strong woman and character.


Is there a shoe or collection you are most proud of?

I’m always looking at the next one. so, my favourite collection is the next one. I don’t look back; I’m only interested in the future.

How has your culture influenced your design?

I believe as a designer you are naturally influenced by the place you live in. I grew up and live in Rome, which is architectural, and beauty is everywhere. In Rome, you don’t need to search for beauty, it’s there. When I analyze my style, Rome is the reason I love proportions and beauty, and that is why I love design. So yes, Rome has a massive influence on me.


You mentioned your collab with Level Shoes, tell me about it.

I first visited the Middle East last June. When they asked me to design the shoes, I wanted to get the feel of the city. Dubai I really want to inspire get inspired by the city of Dubai and don’t really stick with me after the trip was first the height of the city, so I wanted to create a shoe that was very high and monumental, and then the embellishment and the sparkle, Dubai is all glitz and glamour. So that’s why I created a massive platform with fully embellished crystals that resembles the avant-garde spirit of the region and the look and feel of the city of Dubai.

How do you see fashion and design developing in the Middle East?

There’s a lot of excitement. The industry is new and young, and there is curiosity around designers and brands, which I find admirable because sometimes the major cities have so many established designers it can be difficult to gain attention as a young upcoming designer.