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From backstage to the front row, Footwear News goes behind the runways in Milan.

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Italian Jobs

Max Kibardin is both industrious and relentless. His latest gig has been a quiet overhaul of historic Italian shoe label Lorenzo Banfi. Since being tapped as creative director, not only has the Russian-born designer come up with a fall ’09 collection of 60 men’s shoes and 60 women’s shoes (think wovens, man-style oxfords and beautiful boots paired with bags), but he’s also had a hand in refurbishing Lorenzo Banfi’s cavernous retail space, giving it a distinct feel that isn’t Milanese at all. The 230-sq.-ft. space, which includes a showroom, is in the middle of Milan’s tony Golden Triangle. Meanwhile, Carmelo Pistone, the former Gucci exec who bought Lorenzo Banfi with partners in July, and Italian men’s brand Sutor Mantellassi in 2006, told FN he is planning another shoe acquisition.

Spiral Stiletto

The work of Sergio Rossi’s new creative director is already showing. Francesco Russo, who replaced Edmundo Castillo last year, opted for ultra-modern and sculptural shoes with an architectural spiral heel for his debut. Made of stainless steel, the new spiral heel came lacquered or decorated with rhinestones. “It’s about working on the structure, going beyond the boundaries while staying in balance,” said Russo. “It’s about lines, allure, obsessions.”

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