Rene Caovilla: The Epitome of Venetian Luxury Footwear

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Italian footwear reigns supreme in the world of designer shoes. Rene Caovilla is a Venetian shoe-making company with a rich history that dates back to 1928.

The Made in Venice footwear brand is famous for its Roman-inspired ankle strap heels that are a red carpet regular.

Rene Caovilla is one of the best-kept secrets in luxury footwear. The brand is a “seamless blend of Venetian legacy and modern beauty” as a competitor to Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, and Jimmy Choo.

Rene Caovilla is one of the world's oldest shoemakers and still the only luxury brand from VeniceRene Caovilla is one of the world’s oldest shoemakers and still the only luxury brand from Venice

It’s one of the world’s oldest shoemakers and remains true to its heritage, with Rene Caovilla shoes still being handmade today. Rene Caovilla is the only Venetian luxury brand.

We’re deep diving into the Rene Caovilla brand, asking whether Rene Caovilla is a luxury brand, and helping you decide if these shoes are worth a spot on your designer wish list.

A Glimpse into the History of Rene Caovilla

The company began in the 1920s and was founded by Edoardo Caovilla as a luxury footwear workshop near Venice.

His son, Rene Fernando, inherited the company and turned its attention towards fashion during the 1950s. The brand appreciates footwear as “refined objects” and an art form.

In 1928, Edoardo Caovilla (L) founded the shoe company Rene Caovilla, which was later inherited by his son Rene Fernando (R) in the 1950sIn 1928, Edoardo Caovilla (L) founded the shoe company Rene Caovilla, which was later inherited by his son Rene Fernando (R) in the 1950s (Credit: Rene Caovilla)

The ‘Rene Caovilla’ brand is a cumulation of the work of both Rene Fernando and his son Edoardo Caovilla, named after his grandfather.

Its official website highlights “Eldorado’s creative foresight, Rene’s artistic interpretations, and Eldorado’s contemporary approach” as a vital part of its DNA. Edoardo is now the company’s creative director and is the third generation of the family.

Edoardo Caovilla (L), son of Rene Fernando (R), is Rene Caovilla's third-generation creative director and COOEdoardo Caovilla (L), son of Rene Fernando (R), is Rene Caovilla’s third-generation creative director and COO (Credit: Italist)

Rene Caovilla worked with several designers during the 1970s, including Valentino Garavani.

The brand rose to popularity in the 1960s with its iconic ‘Cleo’ sandal that features a spiraling ankle strap inspired by a Roman bracelet housed at the Naples National Archeological Museum. The Cleo shoe was put on display at the MoMA in New York in 1975.

The Artistry Behind Rene Caovilla’s Footwear

You can think of Rene Caovilla as the Leonardo Da Vinci of the footwear world. The brand looks at shoes as a form of living art.

Rene Caovilla has a unique DNA, looking at the ‘Caovilla woman’ as a modern goddess with design elements inspired by ancient history and mythology.

Released in the 1960s, the Cleo sandal has become Rene Caovilla's most iconic sandal design to this dayReleased in the 1960s, the Cleo sandal has become Rene Caovilla’s most iconic sandal design to this day

Rene Caovilla’s Unique Design Motifs

Rene Caovilla is famous for making the barely-there shoe a fashion staple. Every silhouette is designed to enhance the female figure, whether the gladiator-inspired Cleo sandal or a contemporary barely-there mule heel.

The brand has several key design motifs that it revisits each season, many taking their inspiration from Venice and Venetian culture.

The snake has evolved to become a distinctive symbol for the brand. It features heavily on its ‘Morgana’ style with crystal-encrusted serpents across the ankle and heel.

The snake has become a distinctive feature of Rene Caovilla and has subsequently become the defining feature of its Morgana styleThe snake has become a distinctive feature of Rene Caovilla and has subsequently become the defining feature of its Morgana style

How to Pronounce Rene Caovilla

Rene Caovilla is pronounced as “reh-nay kah-oh-villah.” To pronounce “Rene,” say it like the English word “René,” with the “e” sounding like the “e” in “bed,” and the final “e” is silent.

For “Caovilla,” pronounce it like the Italian word “Caovilla.” The “ao” sounds like the “ow” in “cow,” and the final “a” is pronounced like the “ah” in “father.”

Rene Caovilla’s Signature Style and Best-Selling Cleo Sandal

Rene Caovilla is known for creating emblems of modern femininity; its best-selling style is the Cleo sandal. This shoe has become a symbol of the brand.

Edoardo Caovilla, the grandson of the brand’s founder, now takes his inspiration from Islamic architecture, Burano lace, Tang porcelain, and other eclectic sources.

Other popular design elements of Rene Caovilla’s footwear include pearl-embellished thong sandals and fabric boots that can be worn as socks.

Rene Caovilla now takes inspiration from Islamic architecture, Burano lace, Tang porcelain, and other eclectic sources, with pearl-embellished thong sandals and sock boots being some of its popular designsRene Caovilla now takes inspiration from Islamic architecture, Burano lace, Tang porcelain, and other eclectic sources, with pearl-embellished thong sandals and sock boots being some of its popular designs

Rene Caovilla is a brand that frequently appears on the red carpet and is a go-to for celebrities. Gal Gadot, Rihanna, Naomie Harris, and Jessica Chastain are fans of the brand’s snake-inspired shoes.

The brand is also famous for being one of the oldest shoemakers in the world. While other luxury fashion brands have started exporting their manufacturing out of Europe, everything from the first illustration to the final stitch in the shoes is done in-house at Rene Caovilla’s workshops.

While Rene Caovilla is exploring how to use technology and innovation to evolve the brand, it’s committed to remaining true to its craftsmanship and heritage to set it apart from other luxury footwear brands.

Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Heidi Klum, Zendaya, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Kim Kardashian wearing Rene Caovilla's popular heelsEmma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Heidi Klum, Zendaya, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Kim Kardashian wearing Rene Caovilla’s popular heels (Credit: Aurore Marechal / ABACA / Jeffrey Mayer / Media Punch / Reynaud Julien / BauerGriffin / INSTARimages / Cover Images / GRAHAM WHITBY BOOT / Startraksphoto)

Ownership and Creative Direction of Rene Caovilla

Rene Caovilla is a family-owned company that is now in its third generation. Edoardo Caovilla, named after his grandfather, the company’s founder, became Creative Director in 2009 and currently also serves as the company’s Chief Operating Officer.

Edoardo Caovilla, the Italian luxury shoe designer, and his wife, Maria Vittoria Caovilla, were in attendance at the wedding of Jessica Chastain and her longtime boyfriend, Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, in Rome on June 11, 2017Edoardo Caovilla, the Italian luxury shoe designer, and his wife, Maria Vittoria Caovilla, were in attendance at the wedding of Jessica Chastain and her longtime boyfriend, Gian Luca Passi de Preposulo, in Rome on June 11, 2017 (Credit: IPA / INSTARimages)

In an interview with AE World, Edoardo Caovilla said he aims to “offer women something that makes them feel unique and special in their everyday life.” He also noted that sexiness and elegance are key elements in his creative vision for the brand.

Defining Luxury: Rene Caovilla as a Brand

Rene Caovilla is a luxury footwear brand that has refined craftsmanship at its heart. Its ‘Made in Venice’ trademark makes it one of the most luxurious footwear brands in the industry.

The shoes continue to be made by hand, reflecting the company’s origins as a shoe-making workshop.

Rene Caovilla's Rene Caovilla’s “Made in Venice” trademark makes it one of the most luxurious brands in the fashion industry

The brand is now focusing on developing its market share and collaborating with up-and-coming designers, including Yasmin Al Mulla in 2021 for a series of special window displays for the brand’s Ramadan capsule collection and special edition dust bags.

Where to Find Rene Caovilla Products

Rene Caovilla has several single-brand stores across Europe and the Middle East. The brand’s flagship store is in Milan, with other stores in Doha, Dubai, Rome, Venice, Beijing, and Paris.

Rene Caovilla has stores in Milan, Rome, Venice, Paris, Doha, Dubai, and BeijingRene Caovilla has stores in Milan, Rome, Venice, Paris, Doha, Dubai, and Beijing (Credit: Luca Ponti / Shutterstock)

You can purchase Rene Caovilla shoes directly from the brand’s official website and luxury e-commerce stores, including Harrods, Matches Fashion, Mytheresa, and Farfetch.

Rene Caovilla’s most famous shoe, the Cleo, is constantly refreshed by the brand. Sparkles and crystals are the heart of the brand’s permanent collection.

Rene Caovilla’s Price Point: Luxury Handcrafted Footwear

Rene Caovilla’s luxury price point reflects the brand’s manufacturing. Every pair of Rene Caovilla shoes are handmade by artisans in Venice’s Riviera del Brenta.

The brand’s iconic Cleo sandal takes two days of work to make, with at least 20 steps to the process.

Rene Caovilla shoes are handmade by artisans in Venice’s Riviera del Brenta, which explains their over $1000 price pointRene Caovilla shoes are handmade by artisans in Venice’s Riviera del Brenta, which explains their over $1000 price point

You can expect to pay around $1000 for Rene Caovilla shoes, putting them at a similar price point to brands like Jimmy Choo, Roger Vivier, and Saint Laurent.

Rene Caovilla’s legendary ‘Cleo’ sandal retails for between $1,010 and $1,590, depending on whether it features crystals.

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