Step into designer Alejandro Ingelmo’s not-yet-opened subterranean Soho shop and his touches are everywhere. They surface in the long leather couch that divides the narrow but light-filled space into men’s and women’s sides (Ingelmo designed it himself). They’re in the faux shoe boxes—slide one out and they’re pint-sized—that line the walls (also of his creation). They’re in the oversized photos in the rear of Ingelmo’s family’s massive shoe shop in a long-distant pre-Castro Cuba. “I’m proud of my heritage,” Ingelmo says. “I wanted to make it like an old cobbler’s shop.”
The shoes on view yesterday at Ingelmo’s Spring ‘11 presentation, however, were the epitome of modern. Ingelmo’s signature stilettos are served up in a comfortable (really!) stretch nappa leather. “I don’t want [my customer] to only be able to wear it for an hour,” he says. “For me, it’s how you get the most longevity out of a shoe.” Sumptuous animal skins and basket-woven pumps feature in the collection, too, along with a new, especially slim heel he calls the Grace. They’re all in muted tones inspired by Brutalist architecture of the fifties and sixties.
The shop opens officially later this month, and some passersby may find it hard to spot; it’ll be identified only by a plaque that reads “Shop.” But cognoscenti should have no problem picking it out—not least by the sight of Ingelmo himself, who says he’s taken to sweeping the front stairs ever since he first moved in.