This Wednesday, the stars descended upon Venice, Italy for the 74th Annual Venice International Film Festival. But just outside the floating city, there’s another production afoot—one with just as much glamor, heritage, and even glitz.
On the ground floor of the Rene Caovilla factory in Fiesso d’Artico, artisans are diligently crafting the third-generation-family-owned brand’s intricate shoes. One young engineer might be working the laser-cutting machine that, with a ballet of light, traces delicate designs onto sheets of leather. Another craftswoman is likely heating Swarovski crystals with a torch before gently affixing them—with the utmost precision—to a pair of stilettos. According to Edoardo Caovilla, the company’s chief operating officer and creative director, each pair of shoes—from basic pumps to the brand’s signature snake-ankle sandals—takes at least 40 steps to complete. “If an error is made, you have to throw away the whole shoe,” he explained. “So the further you get along in the process, the riskier it is.”
I didn’t witness any shoes getting the boot during my time touring the 80-plus-year-old house’s factory, a testament to the skill of the artisans, many of whom have worked there for decades. Ana, who is in charge of bringing artful details to life, has been part of the team for 68 years. “She’s really an artist—you say, ‘Ana, I’d love to have a flower,’ and she interprets it. She taught all the younger generation how to do it too. We’re really thankful for her—she’s part of the family,” Edoardo gushed.