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For Casadei, a Family Business Goes Global

From simple sandals for tourists to styling Beyoncé, the Italian company has come a long way in 60 years.


In Italy a shoe is not just a shoe. A stiletto is drama, fireworks, an aria of sex appeal and design. Shoemakers talk about their creations as if the higher the heel, the closer to heaven. Arianna Casadei is not a designer, but shoes are her birthright—she is the granddaughter of the Casadei brand’s founders—and she preaches the gospel of fine footwear as smoothly as anyone. A good pair of heels, she says, knocks the wind out of you, “un pugno allo stomaco.

“It’s the accessory that, better than anything else, can lift your mood, embrace your personality, make you feel…” She pauses, searching for the word in English. “Complete.”

Arianna Casadei is the daughter of the Casadei brand founders.PHOTOGRAPHY BY EMANUEL TOSI

Based on that premise, the Casadeis cultivated a business that turns 60 this year, riding what began as a mom-and-pop operation selling sandals for tourists on the Italian Riviera into annual revenues of nearly $40 million.

We are focused on our past, but not in nostalgia. —Arianna Casadei

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When Beyoncé announced the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour at the Super Bowl in 2013, she did it in a pair of over-the-knee red boots by Casadei’s father Cesare, the label’s creative director, whose designs are ubiquitous on Hollywood red carpets.

At 30, Casadei is the third generation in the family trade, and she’s writing its next chapter as global marketing and communications director, pushing it to expand its e-commerce firepower and adapt beyond evening classics to the changing needs of working women.

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A new anniversary capsule collection, for instance, shows off the label’s famous stainless steel “blade” heel enveloped in a plexiglass structure, but reduced to a more versatile, and comfortable, two-inch slingback.

“Modern women want shoes they can wear from day to night. It’s totally different from the ’80s. They don’t have to wear stiletto pumps to the office anymore,” Casadei says. She, for one, does not. At the factory in San Mauro Pascoli, she cut a dramatic figure gliding through the workshop in a pink paisley Dries Van Noten suit and sensible one-inch booties—in a leopard print, no less.


Casadei Women's Designer Luxury Pumps


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