Sunday, August 15, 2010

CLEATS & COUTURE EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Fashion Designer Tania Spinelli

Hey y'all (that's right, I say y'all now) from Tuscaloosa! The weather is hot (and by hot I mean over 100 degrees every single day), the boys are cute, and the food is to die for. You may be rolling me back over the Mason-Dixon line if I ever return.

So law school is pretty much kicking ass and taking names, including mine, so I don't know how often I'll really be able to write unfortunately. However, I will need a break at some point and could definitely use this as a writing outlet about something other than legal briefs. With college football season approaching and being just steps away from Bryant-Denny stadium at the law school, I imagine I'll be doing a lot of writing about the Crimson Tide (and hopefully my Michigan Wolverines). But my first post from Alabama is a great one: an interview with renowned designer Tania Spinelli.

Tania is a fabulous designer born into a Sicilian family with a flair for fashion. In the recent past, she has worked with designers such as Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg, and Tommy Hilfiger. She now has her own shoe line sold around the country, and has given up some of her time to answer questions for Cleats & Couture. Enjoy!

Cleats & Couture Exclusive Interview:
Tania Spinelli, Fashion Designer

Cleats & Couture: Fashion seems to be in your blood with your parents’ love of clothing and your husband’s family’s long history of shoe design. Did you ever want to do anything else or was the fashion world always the obvious choice?

Tania Spinelli: Fashion was ALWAYS the obvious choice. I always wanted to be a designer.

C&C: And I’m sure having the expertise on both ends really helped you jump head first into designing. Besides your family, who and where else did you learn from? How did you get started?

TS: My family was an enormous part of my learning and from which my passion and appreciation was instilled. I did study fashion design for four years at Philadelphia University. It was there that I enhanced my craft and really learned about various parts of the business other than design. My education included merchandising, production, and marketing. It gave me the foundation I needed to build a career and follow a dream.

C&C: Being born into a Sicilian family and marrying into an Italian one, is it safe to say your designs are all inspired by fashion styles in Italy? Do any current or past designers inspire you?

TS: Everyday life is my inspiration. I can be anywhere in the world and I will always be watching people. I love to see what they are wearing and how they are wearing it. While I look at the present for inspiration, I do revisit the past. I have a collection of vintage books on all my favorite designers. I am inspired by all artists, past and present.

C&C: Having Italian roots and keeping with the Cleats & Couture theme, I have to ask: were you disappointed when Italy lost so early in the World Cup?


C&C: I have to admit, I was pretty surprised myself to see them fall so early! Now, your designs have been seen all over Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen and on celebrity Kim Kardashian. How long did it take you to get your name out in the fashion world and how long was it before you were recognized as an elite designer?

TS: I am still trying to get my name out there! I started my collection five years ago and slowly over the years, I started to get recognized. I have been very fortunate to have found a loyal following.

C&C: I know you worked for and with Tommy Hilfiger as his design director of the Hilfiger Collection. How did you get that position and what was that experience like?

TS: I worked with Tommy for seven years. I had gotten a interview through a friend of a friend, with Tommy’s sister Ginny Hilfiger and we totally clicked. I worked under her direction for all the years I was at Tommy and she remains one of my closest friends. My experience working at TH is definitely one of my most treasured. It was my first corporate experience where I learned most about “the fashion business”, and it was an appropriate stepping stone to starting my own.

C&C: After that, you also worked on Diane Von Furstenberg’s first footwear collection ever, in collaboration with Christian Louboutin (which sounds like the ultimate dream-come-true for me, as I adore both of them). How did this project come about?

TS: I had received a call asking if I would be interested in interviewing for the position. Of course my answer was YES! It was definitely a surreal moment in my life to be sitting at a table and reviewing sketches with Diane Von Furstenberg and Christian Louboutin! They are both amazing and I was very lucky to have had that opportunity.

C&C: I’m sure it’s almost impossible to pick one when you've had experiences like yours, but what would you say has been the highlight of your amazing career?

TS: Having had the opportunity to work with so many talented people and being recognized by people I have always admired and aspired to be.

C&C: Okay, so let's talk designs. Your shoes are stunning and flawlessly styled, and I love that even some of your flats are strappy and sexy like stilettos. Do you have a favorite kind of shoe to design: boots, heels, or flats?

TS: Definitely boots!

C&C: Perfect for the upcoming fall season! But even your most casual shoe can be paired with a little black dress for a knockout combination. Do you ever have wardrobes in mind when you design your shoes?

TS: Yes. I design shoes that I feel I am missing. That feeling usually comes about when I am putting together an outfit and imagine the perfect shoe to wear with it.

C&C: My two favorites from the Spring / Summer 2010 Collection are the Mid-Calf Multi-Strap stilettos in black and the Python pumps in blue. Any recommendations for what outfits you would pair those two with?

TS: I would pair the Mid-Calf Multi-Strap stilettos with a simple black T–Shirt dress. As for the Cobalt Blue Python pumps, I wear mine with a black skinny ankle jean and any loose fitting black tee or Tank.

C&C: I noticed that blue is the only actual color in your Spring / Summer 2010 Collection (the rest are black, white, silver, and cream). Is there a reason behind that other than blue being the new “it” color?

TS: I love black and neutrals. They will always be the bases of my collections because I feel it is what people wear most. However, pops of color are always important, especially in basics in order to make them feel new and fresh. I really love cobalt blue and it just felt right for spring.

C&C: So now that everyone is going to run out and buy your shoes, which stores around the country are carrying your designs? If there isn’t a store near us, is there somewhere where we can view and order your shoes online?

TS: As of now, only a few stores sell the collection online. We update store listings which include online retailers each season at

C&C: So as last-minute parting words of wisdom for all the fashionistas who are reading, what is the number one fashion rule you live by day-to-day?

TS: To be true to your own style. Wear it with confidence and own it!

As this interview was being prepared for posting, Tania's Fall / Winter 2010 Collection was debuted and is on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue! Congratulations Tania, and make sure to go check out her new collection at Saks or at her site,!

PS: the "it" color of her Fall / Winter Collection is a candy apple red, the color of my favorite pair this season!


  1. So happy to see that you're going to keep up the blog while at school! It became a part of my daily blog routine this summer and I always look forward to your new posts!

  2. Thank you so much! I'm going to do my best while trying to stay afloat in law school!

  3. best fashion designer. thanks for new post


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