What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
It depends if is a week day or weekend. During the week, I first check what time is it and promptly think about the things I have to do. In weekend mornings, I check the watch and think ‘ok, I probably have more half an hour to stay on bed’. Then cats and my daughter arrive and day begins.
What is the last movie you saw?
Two days ago I saw this beautiful italian movie called ‘Educazione siberiana’, with John Malkovich and lots of Baltic and Russian actors. The performances are amazing, the story is amazing, visual is amazing… just beautiful.
If you were a colour today, which colour would you be?
I think I would be a blue denim, since I’ve been working a lot with jeans. I really like it, it’s very summery.
Where did you start your modelling career?
I was discovered in a street in Estonia while some agents were casting girls for French agencies. After that, I went straightaway to Paris, France.
When your passion for shoe design started?
Well, when I was very young. I grew up in Soviet Union so we never had too much choice. By the age of 8, my grandma gave me two of her pairs of shoes. One was a pump from the fifties, with round toe and thick heel, and the other one was a ballerina. In my first collection I designed a model that was a mix of both shoes called it ‘Valentina’, like my grandma. My passion was evolved in time: first when I studied to become a fashion designer in Tallinn and then traveling around the world as a model learning a lot of things about fashion. I started working with Versace. Visiting constantly the studios made me fell in love for accessories and shoes.
Do you remember which was the first pair of shoes you bought?
This is tough, but I definitely bought here in Milan during a winter fashion week. I was looking for a riding boots and then I found a pair of Dries Van Noten black boots with red embroideries.
And the first pair of shoes you designed?
Oh yeah. That was ‘Raquel’, which became my signature. To create it I thought about the kind of shoe I would like to wear between summer and winter time. It is that part of the year when you don’t want your toes out, but at the same time you want some air going through. The first Raquel was made with leopard printed pony skin. Now I’m doing it with some classic colours, because they’re incredibly hard to find. The Raquel went from the low heel to the high heel, and now I’ve been working in a sport version for it.
Inspiration comes to you, or you look for it?
I think it’s both. Sometimes you just walk around and find something interesting. Lately, I’ve been looking women…what they are wearing, how they are moving on heels, what I would change in their shoes, etc. Sometimes when you are listening a good music, or watching a good movie, the idea comes to you. It’s always better to write it down right away.
Let’s play ‘dream shooting’ for your collection. You choose photographer, location, time of the year, product and model…
I think I already have a dream team. I always work with Oskar Cecere, a great photographer that I knew when I moved to Milan. He understands me and my ideas. Models are often my friends and I’m so glad to meet them after a long time. I know them very well and this helps me in the choice of lights, make-up and the styling that will make this women very beautiful. I have a clear idea of what image I wanna show and I have a lot of fun in this creative process especially when it happens in a peaceful situation.
Since I met you, everything on you remind me France: your style, your allure, how you move and your husband. Why did you decide to move in Milan?
I took this decision because 10 years ago in Paris there was a little grey atmosphere and I don’t know why. When I was modeling I’ve always loved to come to Milan, I think I was the only crazy model who loved to come to Milan for the shows. This city somehow reminds me of Tallinn, with its trams, a little bit quiet and provincial, in a positive way. I love New York and Paris, for short periods, as a tourist. I wanted to have a children here. I love the language, the quality of life and I love to live in a country with a such rich culture and history.
Which is the most special memory of your modelling career?
I remember this hidden Malawian island. I think is more about the fact of how far it was. I also always loved the runway shows, and how magic was the atmosphere, like for Dior.
Which is the most special memory of your modelling career?
I remember this hidden Malawian island. I think is more about the fact of how far it was, and how magic was the atmosphere like when I showed for Dior.
Tell me about a highlight about the process of creating your shoe brand
The most beautiful moment was when a company told me they wanted to follow the project. It was a great moment. Somebody that trusts you and likes what you are doing. The shoes are my babies, so it’s very important to find the right people to make them.
For which designer you would like to be a muse?
Alber Elbaz. He has this french style, even he’s not french, very feminine. He understands what women want.
Do you have a muse?
Women in general that I look in the streets. I don’t want the same type of women wearing my shoes. My girlfriends keep me updated about their needs. I loved to think that, thanks to my Japanese clients who buy pairs of 35, my 8 years old daughter can wear my shoes as well.
In your opinion, who is the king/queen of shoe making?
From the past I would say Roger Vivier. Today I really love Gianvito Rossi. He keeps it very feminine and classic, with modern touches through colours and materials. The quality is also amazing.
Do you know how many shoes do you have?
Not yet, because I get rid of all my shoes from other designers. When people ask me what I do and I answer ‘I’m a shoe designer’, they look down hoping to see of of my creations, so unfortunately I can’t wear other designers anymore.
Is there something you know you would never wear?
Well, as I told you I can’t wear other designer’s shoes.