Though she’s a native Texan and a part-time New Yorker, shoe designer Nicole Brundage learned her craft (and Italian) by immersing herself in provincial Italy, near the Manolo Blahnik factory. She first studied fashion at the Istituto di Marangoni in Milan, which led to internships at Armani and Zac Posen. There, she was charged with designing shoes for Posen’s fall 2004 collection, in collaboration with Manolo Blahnik. The experience fueled her passion for footwear, and she returned to Italy to take classes in the technical design of shoes. “Women have a particular relationship with their shoes,” she says. “They don’t just want to buy a plain pump anymore — it has to be really special.”
Brundage found a factory owned by an Italian family, scouted local tanneries, and launched her first eponymous collection in 2005. Now she’s debuting a new label for spring, Acrobats of God, available at Opening Ceremony and TheCorner.com. Inspired by the singular focus of brands like Repetto and Castañer, as well as the sporty edge of Alexander Wang, the shoes feature woven elastic and leather uppers atop wooden heels. Click ahead to view new styles from the spring and fall collections.