Leopoldine shoes took me back in time. When I was a child I loved wearing bull’s-eye shoes, the ones with two holes that look like eyes and with a strap around the ankle. I had them in blue and my mum made me wear them with perforated white cotton socks. And I loved these less because they held me, leaving the marks of the holes on my legs.
Shoes that take you back to childhood
The story dedicated to the Leopoldine is therefore steeped in nostalgia, the tender, absolute and sometimes lacerating one that you can feel for childhood, the period of innocence and discoveries. And, just thinking about the typical whiteness of that age, I chose them in suede in a soft tone of white.
And always going back to those summers when the holidays were called vacation and lasted from the end of June, when the schools closed, in early October, when the lessons started again, I wanted to set the photo shoot dedicated to the Leopoldine among the trulli. Because it was a cool and small trullo that, like a mother’s womb, welcomed my nights in the villa in Selva di Fasano, a place to which most of my childhood memories are linked.
A large villa in which I felt free from any “city” imposition. Even that of the afternoon nap. I have never liked sleeping in the afternoon and I have always preferred to read in the cool of the pine forest so I often fled from my trullo through the small window from which it was easy to reach “freedom”.
Another recurring theme of those unforgettable summers was tomboy games. Even though I loved the cute little dresses, the wildest part of me always emerged at La Selva. The one who loved climbing trees, running at breakneck speed, throwing pine cones in competitions to those who pulled them farther, throwing themselves into reckless challenges on a bicycle to those who arrived first.
As a reminder of a few falls on the gravel I still have small scars on my knees. When I look at them I go back to those happy times: the parents knew and tolerated some pranks, some more freedom and all the happiness that came with it.
And at my feet always those little shoes with the little eyes … how much I looked for them when I grew up! So the love at first sight for Valentina Ivone’s Leopoldine was immediate. And I cannot describe my joy when she enthusiastically shared my proposal to tell her story and that of her Leopoldine on Città Meridiane.
After all, behind such a poetic project there could only be a young woman with so much imagination but her feet firmly planted on the ground.
Valentina wanted to call her brand Leopoldine in honor of her grandfather Leopoldo who – she told us – loved to write his name on everything he owned. And in this regard there is also a funny story: on one occasion, while he was running away from a farmer he had stolen cherries, he climbed a tree leaving his shoes on the ground. Obviously it was not difficult to identify him because his name was engraved on the sole.
Shoes have always been in her DNA. Valentina was born in Tuscany in what is called “the leather district” in the province of Pisa and her father has always worked in the footwear sector. “When I was little he worked for a company that produced children’s shoes. On Saturday mornings I sometimes went to the factory and it was a dream for me to be in the midst of all those shoes! Even today, when I enter a shoe factory, the noise of the “manual conveyor”, of the machines, the smell of skins, leather and putty brings me back to childhood”.
The idea of making shoes that recalled the ones she wore as a child had been in her mind for a while. But when she decided to give life to her Leopoldine, the pandemic broke out. Valentina didn’t stop and created her first prototype, the first sample and the first 130 pairs.
“It was not easy – she stressed – because unfortunately many companies were closed and others closed permanently. Moreover, today most in our area work on behalf of third parties for the big brands, but fortunately I found someone who believed in me and helped me”.
By now her path in the world of fashion was marked. After a few years living in London, Valentina found herself working for a Salento brand in the sector and for some time she lived in Lecce. Last year she decided to return to Tuscany and try to make her dream come true by creating her own footwear brand. Starting with the model she loved most as a child! In the meantime she started studying, attending courses, alongside professionals to learn about all the processes and materials used in the footwear field.
Leopoldine shoes, in nappa or in suede with interior lined in leather and sole in pumicated and velvety leather, are produced in Tuscany, by one of those small companies that still today tries to enhance the Made in Italy and traditional processes. Where shoes are not all the same, because it is not only machines that produce them, but the hands of skilled workers, where attention, passion and care is in every detail: the sole, the insole, the upper.
“Today, when you buy a shoe, you also buy this, the footwear supply chain is very large, every small part is made by itself, the sole from the sole factory, the insole from the insole factory, the upper from the upper factory and so on. All realities, companies, families that are disappearing destroyed by competition and fast fashion. Through Leopoldine shoes I try to transmit the passion, the hard work, that of the factories, the workers and our territory”.
What to add? She succeeds very well and I am very happy to cancel the geographical boundaries and to join in small steps with Leopoldine the two territories of Tuscany and Puglia that Valentina has in her heart.