Italian Hands:- Why are Anita Flavina Dance Shoes so Special?
In 2016 I was approached by professional dancers, as they were seeking dance shoes, which consisted of maximum comfort, flexibility, durability and style. I knew this could only be achieved by using premium quality materials and leathers, skilled workmanship and innovation in the technical details of each dance shoe.
Our conversation was concluded by the dancers propositioning to me the following;
‘To produce a collection of Italian dance shoes that is an extension of your feet, and the upper of each shoe feels like your second second skin.’
In rising to this new proposition the first and most important challenge would be to source our production team. I knew it was imperative that each person on our production team possessed the skills, knowledge, expertise and passion to execute this venture. In Italy dance shoe making is a specialised craft which requires a different skill set that is used for making normal footwear. So I searched for many months before I found the ‘Italian hands’ that specialised in precisely what we required.
I sourced artisan’s in Italy, which is known as the world’s exquisite shoe making region where the premium international luxury ladies footwear brands are produced. Therefore I was confident our production team up would consist of the finest leather tanneries and accessory houses, enabling our dance shoe collections to comprise of luxurious materials, leathers and accessories.
The next step of my journey was to establish exactly what dancers technically required in order to gain the maximum performance from their dance shoes. In order to achieve this I selected a handful of professional dancers to assist me with our design process in which we would create collections ‘designed with dancers for dancers.’
During our design development meetings I would make notes upon notes on what each dancer explained to me in detail what they desired from the perfect pair of dance shoes. My list was getting longer and longer each day, but I am a strong believer that working on solutions eventually eliminates problems.
One of the funniest points that kept coming up from dancers was they wished for their feet not to smell at the end of the day, this seemed an impossibility to some of them. We laughed through their embarrassment and I explained this is a simple process and with the use of premium leather insoles and linings for each dance shoe, foot odour would become a distant memory. Leather is a breathable skin and just like humans our skin has holes which release sweat when we expire. It is the same for the leather skin used in shoes.
Once back in Le Marche I would hold brain storming sessions with our artisan’s relaying all my notes . We would have long discussions regarding the technicalities of each style and how we can deliver to dancers exactly what they require. Myself and our factories would hold further meetings with each of our suppliers who are part of our production team in order to lead the way forward in the innovation of dance shoe making, whilst ensuring the generations of authentic craftsmanship would be implemented at every stage of production. I am sure at times our suppliers must have thought ‘oh no here comes Ani again with more crazy ideas.’
An area that fascinated me the most was the lining and padding of each style of dance shoes. When I think about it now it is logic. For a dancer each part of the feet performs a specialised and particular role in the performance of their dance, as our shoes are an extension the feet this should be reflected in the width of the lining and padding of each shoe. It would make perfect sense for the balls of the feet to have more padding and the flex points and arch of the feet to have least padding as possible this is to ensure maximum flexibility in the movement of the dance.
In the end our production team nick named us the ‘A Ani Team’ and the development of new pro types commenced. Our hard work and passion would eventually be paid off when our dancers tested our new styles and proclaimed they were the most comfortable dance shoes they had ever worn.
It was during this time that Luca Michetti our Marketing and Communications Director filmed and produced ‘Italian Hands’. Luca felt it is important for dancers to understand why our shoes are different and can see at first hand the authentic craftsmanship as well as feeling the passion that is implemented into our collections. It seems world’s apart from the glamour and style of international dance competitions where dancers perform in their finest glory. However it is the beginning of the life of each dance shoe we create for you.
My love affair with Le Marche began many, many moons ago. I have been visiting this region of Italy for over a decade in my quest to source and work with Italian artisans to craft my ladies footwear and men’s and ladies dance shoes collections. Over the years I have come to realise that part of my heart belongs to this authentic Italian region it is a home away from home that I regard as a safe haven for me, a place that I know I will always find great solace.
Le Marche is enriched with natural beauty whether it be the rolling hills with fields of sunflowers and the finest Italian vine yards or the coast line which is home to the peaceful, playful and at times wild Adriatic sea or the medieval towns and cities which consist of traditional squares,buildings, churches and theatre’s steeped in local history each with their own story to tell. To me Marche is a luxury footwear designers paradise. However one of the most striking aspects about this region is the welcome and warmth of the people that live here.
Over the years nearly everyone I have worked with in Le Marche on my footwear collections I have created a special bond with and our friendships remain strong.
The majority of people in Le Marche are artisans, they operate from their hearts. Their passion is at the forefront of their minds and everything they do evolves from this. Whatever they do for their lively hood whether it is owing restaurants where the catch of the day is delivered by the local fishermen and the remaining ingredients are from the locality each dish enhances the riches of the region.
The beach club owners live and work in harmony with the energy carried by the sea whether at peace, playful or wild. The shoe artisan’s hand crafting the worlds most exquisite designer shoes their life time experience is literally handed down to the next generation with with precision and delicacy. Photographers capturing the desire and beauty in everyone and everything to make visible and tell the real story of Italy’s best hidden secret Le Marche. These are to name just a few.
In today’s world it is rare that a whole region and culture of people live in such an authentic manor. Work is play and play is work. This way of living captivates me and urges my creativity to flow which envelops me in an euphoria and cocoons me in love that no matter what is happening I just know step by step I will accomplish my dreams. Nearly each and every person that I meet here wishes for me to succeed in bringing our designer footwear collections to showcase to the world and spread the love of Le Marche.
I have been so blessed to be accepted into their community and we have become part of each others lives sharing our journey's together.
I wish to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you. I am Anita Flavin founder of Anita Flavina Dance Shoes. In January 2016 in The Plaza Hotel, New York City I met with two international professional dancers Alek Dokuleski and Esther Frances via pure co-incident, which to me really means fate. We were at totally different stages in our lives and embarking on new adventures. I had never danced before, this world was new to me, but as soon as I entered, I was captured. I fell in love at first sight. Of course this is what led to the beginning of Anita Flavina Dance Shoes.
I have been in the footwear and luxury fashion industry for thirty years, my journey in this field has brought me all over the world, however for the last ten years I have been operating my businesses with the Italian's and I have been blessed to spend time in Italy and become part of community life at the heart of the Italian exquisite footwear region Le Marche. As we all know the Italians love to dance and are passionate about their footwear, dancing shoes included.
Alek was in the process of launching Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Broadway, both Alek and Esther expressed to me what they were seeking for in dance shoes especially ballroom dancing shoes and latin dancing shoes. Over a period of time in Italy when I was preparing my launch for Anita Flavina Ladies Luxury Italian Footwear Brand www.anitaflavina.com I sourced an Italian fourth generation dance shoe factory, which for me I can only compare to a vision of walking into an Aladdin’s cave, there are three generations of one family in their team of artisans which hand crafts each individual dance shoe.
I began to spend time with this family and their team, I grew to know them and respect their craftsmanship and work ethic. I quickly began to realise they have a good reputation within the footwear industry for dance shoes which in Italy is regarded as a specialised niche. I look forward to producing behind the scenes videos for my future blogs for you to watch.
The artisan’s I work with have hand crafted dance shoes for Anita Flavina’s first collection for social dancing. Step by step we will expand our collections and move onto professional dance shoes. But for me it is important to achieve each goal with consistency and perfection, also to connect with my dance schools, teachers, students and everyone who reads my blog, so we can move forward with passion in achieving our goals as one. I ask you to lead our dance and I will follow listening to what you are seeking with regard to comfortable Italian dance shoes.
Now I understand why the words ‘Dance, dance wherever you may be’ kept coming into my mind for no reason, it was and is my destiny.
I wish to thank everyone that has supported and guided me, first we were strangers and now we share our dreams. Above all it is the mission of Anita Flavina Dance Shoes to provide an excellent and honest service step by step.
Now let's commence this dance together.
The link to our website is: anitaflavina.com
Our IG is @anitaflavinadanceshoes
Esther and Alek in New York City where the vision of Anita Flavina Dance Shoes began
Three generations of one family is amongst our team of artisans that hand craft each individual dance shoe
Alek style dance shoes for men
Joanna dance shoes for ladies available in different heel heights
Myself (Anita) working on Anita Flavina Dance Shoes
In 1995 I graduated from the London College of Fashion in Fashion Management Business and Finance. I have worked in the luxury, fashion and ladies designer shoes industry for over twenty five years for many notable brands including management training at John Lewis Partnership, Dorchester Collection Hoteliers and Whistles Ladies Designer.
In 1998 I identified that shoes for women in the footwear fashion scene was beginning to gain international recognition, this area of fashion was still vastly undeveloped. I decided to pursue a career in the field of designer womens shoes. I secured employment at Office London, in their womens designer shoes buying department which was then the cutting edge of footwear fashion. We discovered several internationally recognised footwear brands and were responsible for buying from the top Italian shoes designers in the world at that time.
In 2001 I identified a niche in the market for a new quirky footwear brand, which consisted of lower heeled casual shoes and commenced my own business and designer shoe collection under the brand name of Neet. At that time our manufacturing was from China which operated under the old system of quota’s and Chinese footwear production was rare on the British High Street. I sold my collections to Harrods, Selfridges, Fenwick’s, KG, amongst many others. In addition to this I sold to independent retailers nationwide and in Japan, Italy and the USA. At this time the Irish economy was about to boom and I relocated my business to Ireland. I sold my brand to the majority of independent retailers in Ireland and the UK.
During this time I identified there was a niche in the market for top Italian shoes designers and over a period of time I sourced Italian factories to conduct business with. Due to demand from my customers I researched the Italian ladies shoes market and developed a new brand Minette which consisited of designer high heels.
I was requested by the British Footwear Association to be the sole representative for Britain at implementing the International Codes of Conduct at the European Union headquarters in Brussels.
In 2008 I was awarded Irish Accessories Designer by Belfast City Council. I take great pride in grading my work by the women who wear my shoe designs.
Therefore I was deeply honoured when I was requested on behalf of the Irish government to be the sole representative of the creative talent in Ireland, the designer evening shoes I created especially for Michelle Obama, was presented to her by the Northern Ireland Assembly for this occasion.
In 2015 an Italian ladies shoe artisan whom I had been conducting business with for six years, approached me with a business proposition to become Creative Director in creating a luxury ladies footwear brand which is handmade in Marche, the exquisite ladies designer shoes making region of Italy.
At long last after many years of hard work and determination I am gratified to be in a position to enable women of passion, power and substance to reap the rewards of what they installed in me, during a path of identifying my true potential as a ladies shoe designer by for filling the desire of every woman to embrace her empowerment and elegance in stepping out in my designs.
For this reason I feel the time is right to launch my own designer shoes collection brand for ‘Women of Passion, Power and Substance’. This venture is perfect to represent the quality of my design philosophy and enabling me to present the collections in its righteous place among the crème dell a crème of shoe heaven.
As I operate from my heart what better weekend than Valentines to offer all of you a 20% special Valentine discount for the amazing men in their life to spend on the woman they love.
Me being awarded as 'Irish Accessories Designer'
Farhana Designer Italian Boots
Renee Ladies Designer Shoes
Oprah Ladies Designer Collections
@stylonylon wearing Angelina Ladies Shoes
Amal Ladies Italian Shoes
I design my Italian ladies shoes for women of passion, power and substance. For me she exists in each and every woman on this planet. We are all at different steps on our journey. Some of us have incurred the experiences of life that enables us to totally embrace our passion, power and substance. Whilst some of us may be in the transformation of stepping into our true selves, and when the time is right we will have wings and fly as a butterfly. Some of us have yet to acknowledge the true potential we hold deep inside, and may be in the cocoon phase and when the time is right the hand of courage, we will accept and embrace the transformation and beauty that patiently awaits. We are all on our own individual pathway and we will experience each chapter as and when the time is right for us.
For me as a ladies shoes designer I believe in order to create my designer shoes collection, it is essential to experience as much of her life as possible. By experiencing her life I can feel her, be her, touch her life and reflect this into my designs.
The Anita Flavina woman embraces her life, she is passionate about the people that she touches and feels, her family, friends, colleagues. She is truly loves her life, the places she visits, whether it be holiday destinations, cities, beach or spa resorts, she enjoys visiting museums, art galleries, shows, eating out at restaurants or making delicious meals at home.
The Anita Flavina woman is able to step into her own power, she is self assured, resilient and independent in her thoughts. She holds her own strength, which she finds in her values within the simplicity of life. Her wisdom and self empowerment evokes her to speak her truth and the truth of those for whom she holds a space for. In order for her to achieve this, she is secure to go with in herself to reflect and build on her inner strength, enabling her to increase her sense of well being. She may revel in spending time among nature, alternatively or as well is she may find solace in mediation or yoga.
Anita Flavina woman is a woman of substance. Her values and attributes are respected by others. She is resilient, sincere, kind and gentle. She is often turned to in times of need, shining her light supporting and holding space for those she loves. She is consistent and evokes those who wishes to help themselves. When the day is done she will joyfully relax and reveal in light hearted entertainment.
To me the Anita Flavina woman operates from her heart with her passion, power and substance.
Farhana Bodi I Woman of the World @farhanabodi wearing style FARAHAN
Noor Odeh Fashion and Beauty Personal Blogger @noorodeh7 wearing style FRANCA
Julia Rebaudo Stylonylon Life & Style London Writer and blogger @stylonylon wearing style ANGELINA