FROM LEFT: Edmundo Castillo; sketch from Castillo's spring collection

One day several years ago, while Edmundo Castillo was still the creative director at Sergio Rossi, we were chatting about inspirations, and he mentioned a book, the title of which drove me straight to The Sex Life of the Foot and Shoe.

Although it was written in the tone of a psychology textbook, I nonetheless devoured it in one weekend, enthralled by its tales of centuries-old Chinese footbinding and our societal attitudes about stilettos and all that they imply. Fast-forward to the present day, when I mention to Castillo that the book remains a favorite. “Isn’t it fascinating?” he says. “I’m pretty sure I lent my copy to someone who lent it to someone else, and I haven’t seen it since. It plays a part in making me do what I do and the way I do it. I need to buy another copy.”

Even without his paper muse within arm’s reach, Castillo seems to be doing just fine. He had set aside his own line when he joined Sergio Rossi in 2004, but by 2008 he had left the Italian house, disillusioned by the notion of designing shoes that were “half me, half someone else’s identity.” This season finds his relaunched eponymous collection arriving in stores—a fresh, colorful and, yes, sexy statement that represents who Edmundo Castillo is today.

“The thought running through my mind was, Where would I be today if I hadn’t stopped designing my own collection?” he notes. “And in that interim, so much had happened to shoes—what was considered high then would be considered low now. A lot of excitement has been injected into shoes, and I wanted to design a collection that showcased where I would be in those changes.”

Castillo is fond of noting that this debut collection (available locally at Saks Fifth Avenue Bal Harbour) evokes the feeling of “shoes as makeup for the feet,” and one can make the easy association in the blush-toned suede of the Spark open-toe slingback, or the lipstick-red Debi d’Orsay pump. But it’s also an overarching idea, the notion that shoes should complement without announcing their presence too loudly.

“There are shoes out there that look like you’re walking with two Christmas trees on your feet,” Castillo says. “If you’re wearing the perfect shoe, the first thing anyone should notice is a woman walking, moving gorgeously.” The Debi is a perfect example, he says, calling it “a shoe that goes with everything, that does for the leg everything that a shoe should.”

And while platforms are plentiful in the collection, Castillo is also one among several shoe designers who believe we should all start thinking a little lower. “I’ve always liked the platform, and the challenge is knowing the fine line between a high heel that feels refined and when it starts to get a little vulgar,” he says. “More than anything, it’s the idea that shoes are starting to look the same out there, so perhaps it’s time to return to some styles that are refined or demure—a new ballerina, or a new way of looking at a kitten heel.”

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