Gio Diev

High Concept Shoes for High Fashion Feet
The genre of sculptural shoes is, by definition, an attempt to elevate the design identity of an otherwise basic accessory. The approach undertaken by Gio Metodiev is to offer boldly visual statements. His Gio Diev collection is shaped by personal passions, merging craftsmanship with architectural and artistic inspirations.

Gio Diev joins established companies like Sergio Rossi, Gianluca Tamburini, Giuseppe Zanotti and United Nude to expand the imagination of what luxury shoemaking should resemble. Refusing to settle for updated classics or riffs on tradition, Metodiev’s collection is focused on the boldly memorable. While pointing to Pierre Hardy as a role model, he insists, “I’m driven by imagination.”

As with his tangible designs, Metodiev’s career path was equally unexpected. After coming to the U.S. as an exchange student from Bulgaria at age 16, he stayed for college and studied art. After working for Chanel in package design, Metodiev moved onto PR for Tommy Hilfiger, then Dolce & Gabbana. By his late 20s, Metodiev started to develop the concept for Gio Diev.

At that point, the typical launch would be for an NYC debut. But Metodiev’s real coup d’état, an inspired and risky strike, involved a move to Italy in order to apprentice for a shoemaker. Here, the designer’s commitment to his vision is revealed. Leaving a lucrative and respected position in favor of an apprenticeship requires setting the ego aside, a major feat for some designers. But more importantly, it furthers the development of quality products. And it enhanced the connection between Metodiev and his Italian factory.

Though not yet a master shoemaker, his passion and commitment impressed early supporters. Even so, the Gio Diev launch in Paris for 2010 struggled to gain attention at first. Metodiev describes the reception as, “very upsetting and difficult.” But he resolved to stand by his vision. Soon, drawing on his PR expertise, Gio Diev designs were popping up on the Hollywood red carpet. Then he landed an account with Saks Fifth Avenue, followed by smaller stores in France, Germany, Dubai, Russia, China, Kuwait, Qatar and his parents’ shoe store in Bulgaria. Now he’s got momentum and the rising star moniker.

Some elements of the Gio Diev collection have direct visual inspirations, such as barbed wire or the Sydney Opera House. But other designs have more obscure references. Metodiev developed a curiosity for veils and he mimed the key visual elements such as transparency and texture, using the veil’s form to convey both mystery and honor. As Metodiev explains, “It’s true to myself. It’s more like an artistic collection. All my heels are one -of-a-kind. I don’t use archive materials.” He adds, “I’m not afraid, if this isn’t commercial.”

Text by Michael Cohen
Photography courtesy of Gio Diev