Let’s be clear, when it comes to shoes, you won’t find us sporting see-through heels (outside of our kinda dirty dreams). But that doesn’t mean we can’t get behind footwear with a focus on transparency, especially if it’s a wham-pow pair from the new TRANSPARENT collection of San Francisco designer Eric Rutberg that’s hitting stores with bold hues, high heels and pumped up platforms this spring.
Sculptural details and sunny day colors mix with wooden touches and layered lines in the new line by Rutberg, a longtime footwear industry player who has designed for LAMB, Badgley Mischka, Jennifer Lopez, Betsey Johnson and San Francisco’s own Wilkes Bashford, among others.
For spring, Rutberg drew inspiration from mid-century designers such as George Nakashima and George Nelson, as well as classic Lilly Pulitzer, for a look that’s full of fresh, preppy appeal, but still pretty damn sexy and stunning at the same time.
The collection ($185-$325) will be arriving in stores from Neiman Marcus to L.A.’s Fred Segal early next year. In the meantime, read on for our recent interview with Rutberg for his thoughts on color, getting inspired by that big ‘ole bridge we’ve got and why you should probably just give up hope of finding a super-high heel that’s also insanely comfortable.
Your shoes display a love of color. What do you think a colorful shoe brings to a woman’s overall look?
I think that color adds an element of surprise and sophistication. Black or camel, for instance, are conservative and safe choices. A woman who chooses color is my kind of customer: fearless, worldly, and more confident in her approach to the world and her impact in it.
How do you balance functionality and aesthetics when you design shoes? Are they of equal importance?
Comfort is an interesting thing. Our shoes are designed well, constructed of great leathers and hand-crafted components. With a long-time background in designing, I go to great lengths to incorporate a lot of of the prerequisites of comfort, but a 130 mm platform pump will never be a true orthopedic fit. It’s a compromise of fashion and function. I balance comfort with an edgy aesthetic. It required working both sides of your brain at once to achieve both simultaneously.
Your shoes display sculptural qualities while still remaining contemporary in their look and feel. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Travel and study are great companions. I spend a huge amount of time looking at all the places I am lucky to be in, contemplating the design elements, the nature of those environments and the inhabitants evolving in them. I can’t think of anything more contemporary than a pyramid.
You have homes in SF and Sonoma. Does Northern California influence your aesthetic at all?
We have an orange suspension bridge right here in San Francisco that exemplifies primary colors and clean lines.
Are there any unique or notable materials or elements used to make your footwear line that you’d like to point out?
The name of our company includes the word TRANSPARENT. In the beginning, part of the reason for the name was that I wanted the company to be that for myself, people who work with us, and the women who like what we do. However, for many years in my career, lucite or transparency, even as it relates to absence, has always been a part of something in my work every season. This Spring, I have a wonderful strong shaped heel that is Lucite. The construction is very modern. And like our women: strong and fearless.
Photography courtesy of Eric Rutberg
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