René Caovilla is the patriarch of three generations of shoemakers. His creations have become synonymous with exquisite Italian shoe craftsmanship. Founded in 1934 in Venice, today the iconic luxury brand continues to evolve under the guiding hand of Edoardo Caovilla, grandson of the founder.
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 15th issue of ODDA Magazine.
Which is the best lesson you have learned from Venice?
From Venice I've learned authenticity, vibrancy and beauty, which are cornerstones for Caovilla. We draw inspiration from the harmony of shapes, colors and proportions of our iconic city. René Caovilla is an incomparable in heritage of three generations. When compared to other brands, Caovilla is the only one directly liaising to the beauty of Venice. Venice is home for me and my family.
How has becoming a father changed your way of seeing things?
Being a father has taught me a lot of valuable things. One thing I find important is to teach my children not to focus on material things, but to find the value in knowing and to constantly keep learning. It makes me happy and proud to teach my children what I have learned from my life experiences.
Which is the smell that reminds you of your happiest time?
The scent of the chamois and of the leather is very nostalgic for me. When I was young I used to spend much of my time in our company's warehouse watching craftsmen making shoes and was amazed with the process of creating Caovilla shoes. It was quite magical for me! Also the scent of the sea, for sure, has also a very important place in my heart and in my memory of my childhood. Until now, I still enjoy being in the water.
What does it take to love women?
I think the best way to show love for a woman is to accept and appreciate their presence.
Do you see any new René Caovilla around?
No, I think René Caovilla is still very unique. I really believe that our craftsmanship makes us stand out in a different way from a lot of other brands. It distinguishes something that is special. This "Caovilla touch" is not replicable in its artistry. I do respect the younger generations of emerging shoe designers. Previously, I've actually worked on a mentorship program with Vogue Italia to encourage young talent. I think it is important to continue to inspire the youth.
What have you learned from listening?
I have learned that listening very often is more important than talking.
"I'D LOVE TO SEE ST. VINCENT WEAR RENÉ CAOVILLA. SHE HAS A CLASSIC LOOK BUT STILL A SPECIAL PRESENCE WHEN SHE IS ON STAGE OR ON A RED CARPET AND I THINK SHE WOULD LOOK AMAZING IN A CAOVILLA SHOE" – EDOARDO CAOVILLA
The greatest lesson you have learned from your son?
From my son, I've learned to appreciate the virtues of "transparency" and "innocence" that, unfortunately, sometimes we lose growing up in our society.
What is the type of music you enjoy the most? Any singer that you would love to see wearing your creations that hasn't yet worn them?
When I was young, I enjoyed playing the piano and listening to Italian pop music. I'd love to see St. Vincent wear René Caovilla. She has a classic look but still a special presence when she is on stage or on a red carpet and I think she would look amazing in a Caovilla shoe.
Do you have any fortune rituals?
I don't have any specific fortune rituals… I just rely on God before taking off in an airplane.
Which place would you love to visit that you have not seen yet and why?
I would love to visit Japan. I've never been before but have always had an enormous admiration for its thousand-year-old culture. It is fascinating. I hope to take a trip there soon.
Any memories from your adolescence that have shaped your artistic vision that you would be pleased to share with us for inspiring young shoemakers?
I have a lot of great memories from growing up and was fortunate to learn so much from my grandfather and father. One image of my grandfather sticks out in my memory, seeing him pulling and modifying the wooden forms of the shoes. It was magical. His passion, love and effort in his work resonate with me until now. To find that passion in what you do is what I'd like to instill in young shoemakers.
If you could live in any movies, which would it be and why?
I wish I could live one week in The Last Samurai. The culture of Japan amazes me. But, if I had to pick a movie for my entire life, I would choose Big Wednesday. It is one of my favorite movies.
Could you describe the René Caovilla woman designed by you with a quote of a poem?
Shakespeare said, "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep."
We could say, "We like to think that our shoes were created from the same substance as dreams are made of."
What have you learned from the darkest periods of your life? What does it keep to make you inspire others?
I've learned that failures are good too because you can become stronger than before. Also resilience, the capacity to recover and keep going even when times are tough.
You can learn so much from your low points and it is how you bounce back that makes you stronger.
Is there any social issues that you are particularly interested about?
The social issue that I really feel close to me is the big problem of the hunger in the world.