Q&A: Isabel Castañer, Empress of Espadrilles

Is there a more quintessential spring shoe than the classic espadrille? You can thank Spain’s Castañer family for introducing it into your wardrobe, and the wardrobes of countless others–we’re talking everyone from Salvador Dalí to Penelope Cruz here (oh, and a little someone you may have heard of named Grace Kelly, above). And if that’s not pedigree enough, consider the fact that the label’s current designer, Isabel Castañer, created the first-ever wedge espadrille at the behest of Yves Saint Laurent. We caught up with her to dish on Castañer’s past, future, and utterly covetable full-priced collection launching tomorrow at 9pm, exclusively on Gilt.com.

StyleFile: What do you think is the secret to castaner’s staying power? How does a shoe company stay relevant for so many years?
Isabel Castañer: Castañer has lasted so long to due hard work and a lot of joy and hope for the future.

StyleFile: What does the next generation of Castañer look like–are there children and grandchildren being trained to carry on your tradition?
Isabel Castañer: Almost the whole family is involved in the business. It truly is family owned and run, so I think that the future is definitely strong.

StyleFile: What was your initial meeting with Yves Saint Laurent like, and what did you think of the wedge espadrille when he first proposed it?
Isabel Castañer: We were at a fair with our little flat espadrilles, and three elegant men came to our stand. I was the only one in the stand who knew that one of them was Yves Saint Lauent because I had always been an avid reader of Elle. He told us that he wanted us to help him make a high heel espadrille, and that did not exist back then. I was about to tell him that we couldn’t do it, but my husband thought better and told him we could meet with him the next day. After our meeting, we began making prototypes and molds with our carpenter. Mr. Saint Laurent was very excited since the very first prototype, which did not even fit a foot! So, with his blessing we kept going and finally found the right heel. We still use it to this day. Working with him during his apex was truly incredible, and continuing to work with him through the years was, as well.

StyleFile: What’s the perfect outfit to wear with your Castañers?
Isabel Castañer: Espadrilles are so versatile that certain styles can go with a more formal summer outfit while others are perfect for jeans or shorts or summer dresses.

StyleFile: What’s your favorite vacation spot? Any place that really captures the spirit of your shoes?
Isabel Castañer: St. Tropez has been our vacation spot since I got married. Although
work does not always make it easy to take holidays!

Shop the full-priced Castañer capsule collection now, exclusively on Gilt.com.

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One Response to Q&A: Isabel Castañer, Empress of Espadrilles

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