American-born with roots in Italy and France, Henri Lepore Dezert is no stranger to fashion. As a child, he worked with his father in their family-owned custom upholstery shop; later on, he moved to New York to work with his cousin, none other than the queen of patterned flirty dresses, Nanette Lepore. With ambition and design practically in his DNA, Henri used his discerning palate and superb business savvy to create and cultivate his own brand, separating himself from his family by breaching into footwear.
Luckily, we have obtained the ultimate scoop on this shoe maven and his debut collection. In our interview, he talks about the synchrony that he has found between shoe form, shape, and material; in many ways, the perfect shoe is well-rounded and complementary of itself. He emphasis a lack of forcing a shoe idea or design to happen, which must be why every millimeter of supple leather and suede of Henri’s shoes screams effortless.
Congratulations on your debut collection! After reading a bit about you and given your family’s history in both fashion & upholstery; what really lead you to “choose” shoes & pursue shoemaking?
Thank you, Ashley!
Meeting my wife Antonietta and moving from New York to Italy is what gave me the opportunity to pursue shoemaking the most. In Italy, most people do not live to work, they work to live and enjoy life. With that passion in mind I think shoemaking found me because I’m living in Italy and it has become a part of my everyday life.
Who are the women you design for? How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I design for the woman that desires to be alluring yet classy. My clientele tend to be women that are cultured and well travelled.
As a shoe designer I strive to create shoes that are simple but retain depth. I never force a structure or material just because one or the other is great, they must seamlessly go together to create the right shoe.
I would describe my design aesthetic as ethereal. I spend a lot of time looking for leathers and textiles that are unique and strive to use them in their optimal ways.
Can you explain a little about your design process? Do you have a inspiration board or listen to a certain type of music that helps keep you inspired and the creativity flowing?
My design process has three basic phases: concept phase, prototype phase and final sample phase.
I often begin each shoe by finding particular leathers or textiles that create a certain aura. I like to let the lines or colors of a leather or textile determine each shoe. I’m always going to trade fairs in Italy and France such as ‘Anteprima’ and ‘Cuir A Paris’ on the search for unique leathers, textiles and components.
Next to nature, music is probably my biggest inspiration. My favorite artist right now is Nicolas Jaar; I’ve listened to almost every set of his and each is a masterpiece. Every little sound seems to be precisely thought out, nothing goes to waste. He blends the old with the new so well, it becomes a new sound in itself and has definitely been an inspiration.
Who are your ultimate celebrity clients; who would you love to see wear your shoes on the red carpet?
Wow this is tough… There are so many celebrities that have great style but if I had to limit it to 5, I would say: Angelina Jolie, Zoe Saldana, Amy Adams, Lupita Nyong’o and Marion Cotillard.
Which style are you most proud of?
I love my Carmela ‘t-strap slingback’ pump; it’s the perfect blend of contemporary and classic design. Meet the debut collection which is currently available for pre-order (delivery beginning August 15, 2014) at Henri Lepore Dezert: Carmela crossback t-strap pump in black leather with tonal goatskin suede trim and 105mm heel Carmela crossback t-strap pump in glossy red patent leather with goatskin suede piping and 105mm heel Carmela crossback t-strap pump in white leather with contrasting bronze leather piped trim and 105mm heel Edda spat bootie in black leather with a black suede front panel, anodized antique gold stud buttons and stacked wood 85mm wedge heel Geary geometric cut-out bootie in black leather with a back-zip and 100mm heel Off The Cuff tricolor peep-toe platform sandal in cognac brown leather, pollen gold suede and white lizard with a stacked 120mm heel Razza double ankle-strap sandal in black leather & stingray with a metallic effect and 100mm heel Salana pointed-toe d’Orsay pump in pale gold python with a tonal piped leather trim and 100mm heel Zaldana open toe t-strap pump in blue silk satin with a darker blue leather and 120mm heel Zaldana open toe t-strap pump in augmented monochromatic chevron with a leather covered 120mm heel and platform
You can also find a selection of HLD’s sandals featured in Moda Operandi’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ curated trunkshow.
Written by Shannon Weston