Focusing squarely on how women are portrayed in art, the work of New York-based illustrator Amber Vittoria is not only joyfully colourful but decidedly feminist in its outlook.
Recently, the artist teamed up with footwear brand Rollie for a collection helmed by the brand’s designer Jean-Vincent Lebon that’s entirely based on her drawings and writings.
The collaboration came about when Vittoria cold-emailed founders Kat and Jean Lebon after seeing their artist collaboration with Paris based painter Etta Vee, according to the brand.
Three new styles have been launched, each incorporating different aspects of Vittoria’s gorgeous work. Lebon and Vittoria met to discuss the project, with the latter providing three written, semi-autobiographical tales about global feminist issues.
The range was created entirely based on these texts—a departure for Rollie, which usually works on a “product first” basis. “Usually the storytelling behind the brand’s collections are inspired by ideas that have already been prototyped,” says Rollie.
“The aim of this new approach is to produce wearable art that speaks to femininity and the female form through the lens of personal experience.”
Each shoebox features Amber Vittoria’s art and a postcard featuring writings that inspired the shoe: Head in the Clouds, for instance, is a screen-printed leather ankle boot featuring Amber Vittoria’s Painting A Sparkly Personality. Vittoria says that the boot “is a portrait of a woman with her head amongst clouds (and her literal feet are on the ground). This piece speaks to women who have been told they are too aggressive when asking for what they deserve, for dreaming big."
This Little Piggy, meanwhile, draws on the artist’s memories of her mother singing “ 'This Little Piggy' as she pointed to my toes, and I loved it,” she says. “It gave me confidence in the appearance of my feet, which were (and still are) on the larger and hairier side. The societal expectation of women and their feet is to be small, dainty, and smooth. This shoe helps remind me to always embrace the beauty of my feet and give them a shoe that champions who they are."
Finally, the Eyes Over Here, Buddy shoe was inspired by a moment when just after Vittoria’s meeting with Rollie, she was catcalled. “'You have that gym ass, yeah you with the brown purse and blue jeans,' to be specific,” she explains. “How he used what I was wearing to ensure I knew he was speaking to me was infuriating; in turn, these shoes are meant to be worn as a reminder to society that this still happens all too often."