CS : Hey babe, so tell me about these shoes and how it all got started because it seems to have happened very quickly.
CGC: It really has, from being told from a friend in Prague that I should contact “these people who wanted an artist to design footwear in Bratislava” back in March to Fashion Shows in London in September, I was surprised it worked so well.
CS: Just a phone call to some people?
CGC: No, I started skyping with the investors in Bratislava (where the factory is actually located) in March about coming there to see the factory. Honestly I wanted to see that they were serious as things come along and tend to fizzle out after they have expressed what they want and I let them know what I need in order to make that happen.
CS: I hear ya..
CGC: Nonetheless the skyping continued for a month and and I eventually went there. CS: Had you been there before?
CGC: Yes with my sister’s tour 100s of years before. So I had a familiarity of the geography of what I was in for. The guys in Bratislava did not want me to see the factory nor did I want them to see my concepts.
CS: What was the logic behind that since perhaps not sharing your ideas could lead to a bit of an impasse say for example the Girlie Show by Madonna?
CGC: Well with Madonna I always had a narrative vision that would have a beginning and would lead you to an end and obviously that would have to be shared with her as well as the rest of our crew to make sure the logistical and technical issues could be surmountable. However, in the case of the shoe line and my ideas, the guys in Bratislava said “You come up with the ideas and we will make them happen”.
CS: Sounds a bit ominous but quite freeing when it comes to creating something. Was it a challenge though to become sort of a cobbler overnight?
CGC: It was but I did go where I wanted with the designs and concepts. The materials used to make the shoes are not conventionally what one would think of for footwear. I wanted to create wearable, classic yet contemporary looks. I am not a shoe designer but I am an artist so I knew I could bring something to footwear. I actually only owned 4 pairs of shoes!
CS: (I know this to be true having lived with him in 1997 and one of those pairs are actually Converse slides that I would slip on when Christopher went out of town. ) You still have those damn converse slides don’t you?!
CGC: I do! I am not so rough on shoes but do like comfort and versatility. So a nice pair of dress shoes to go with any upscale outfit. Comfortable slides to lounge around the house. Good running shoes for when I run the reservoir. (For any non- LA based people, running the Hollywood reservoir trail is a notoriously good place to bump into A-list celebs but Christopher has been doing this run for ages) So this has been great to segue back into hands-on creative endeavors besides my painting and writing. Though our second collection is coming up and I feel confident we will expand our looks and get to NYC for Fashion Week. Our website is up and I have to say that the Factory PR has been a Godsend for this project. It has come together quickly and for the most part all little bumps in the road have been dealt with effortlessly.
CGC: We are brother and sister again finally. I went to her show recently here in Los Angeles and it was great to just be able to enjoy the show.
CS: What stood out for you?
CGC: She is so remarkably energetic… also how the shows are different now than from how we did them.
CS: What are the differences?
CGC: There were no breaks in the current show. As I mentioned before I took a narrative approach to Madonna’s shows. I wanted to tell a story over the course of the show for which the music and the theatrics were all a part of. But ultimately there was a story with a beginning and an end. She could sit onstage particularly with ballads, with just her, Niki and Donna in the back and a follow spot and you could hear a pin drop as she was so captivating. It’s not that the new shows are better or worse but the audiences are different. There is constant movement and I would liken it to a series of vignettes that just happen. There were no moments of just my sister onstage and her ability to move you with that gift she has.
CS: How nice to hear, speaking of gifts, we lost a very gifted singer and superstar that really only your sister could possibly gauge that magnitude of fame truthfully. How did losing Whitney Houston this year affect you?
CGC: I felt a personal loss with Whitney. She was coming up around the same time as Madonna and I was there for much of that. We had mutual friends, she worked with background vocalists that Madonna did, songwriters that Madonna did and at the time our “camps” were just doing our best to put out good music and have fun. Little did we know how it would change things. You cannot plan for that sort of thing and it probably will not happen like that again. The way Whitney was vocally and visually was stunning. We all were amazed by her at award shows and seeing her live. She was at Gianni Versace’s memorial as I was and Whitney sang, Madonna read a poem and you look at these great talents there in that room and never contemplate what the loss of them could and would inevitably mean. So I really felt a personal loss with Whitney, but I will tell you this, every time a Whitney song comes on at a bar or club I want to dance. It just makes me want to dance and that is a good feeling to remember her with.
CS: Wow, you know I loved her, but that is probably the best way to describe that loss. Speaking of personal, I noticed on your facebook page you posted the text from a letter you mother wrote in 1947 to a friend that was a clever, poetic and humorous piece! Now I see where you get it from
CGC: I suppose so, it was handwritten and my Aunt gave it to me. I have it framed with a picture of her in the frame as well. She also made a joke in there about “when butter flies”..
CS: Hilarious! What a great thing to have inherited literally and figuratively.
CS: Ok just some rapid fire questions for you. All time favorite Madonna song?
CGC: Like A Prayer…though I did love this newer cut Girl Gone Wild.
CS: Favorite music right now?
CGC: It’s hard to say as much of pop music is indiscernible from song to song. You know I love good pop country and Motown classics..and of course some Sinatra and Dean Martin..Though you know my playlist is hard to get on to.
CS: Indeed it is, but if you’re lucky enough to have a great night dancing in your living room, then one get’s to hear your taste.
CS: What about favorite Weho bar? Where do you like to go out?
CGC: Well back in the day there was the Firehouse where I took Demi Moore who climbed the wall to get in.
CS: That’s where I met you with Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss!...
CGC: This is not about you, you want me to answer the question or not?..I liked the Firehouse because whether with my sister or whomever I ended up going with you could intermingle ,dance and not be ogled, photographed, tweeted about and that’s just by the owner’s of the bars. Now I like here which is ironically the old space for Firehouse and the Abbey is nice because you get to be outside. Which is what I love about living here mostly is that the weather is conducive to being outside.
CS: So what next for you?
CGC: Obviously Ciccone Collection will hopefully to expand and the second line of the footwear will do even better as we have made some changes and added variety to our designs for men and women. This book continues to have legs as it is in 25 languages and of course I can never get out of music for too long. I have a few girls and a guy who I’m working on developing into the artists they are trying to be.
CS: Well I have held you up long enough but want to wish you a Happy Birthday as well since on the 22nd of November you will be celebrating no doubt. So on behalf of Wehoconfidential thank you so much Christopher for opening up about so much.
CGC: Anything for you babe, and now I can finish this lovely martini I poured myself and enjoy this crisp evening at my desk. I love you WeHo Confidential!!