Cleo: Fifty Years of Style and Glamour

Last evening, the gathering in a private room at Cipriani’s at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas was a bit of la dolce vita. On hand to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Maison Rene Caovilla’s iconic Cleo shoe were clients and fans, many of whom arrived laden with large shopping bags from The Maison Caovilla store, one of Wynn’s premium retail boutiques. The hors d’oeuvres were signature Ciprianis—fresh mozzarella thin crust pizza, delicious enough to be straight from Naples. Guests also enjoyed creamy risotto, croque monsieurs, caprese salads on skewers, and sashimi, along with Cipriani’s famous bellinis, martinis, and a variety of wines. Luscious red strawberries dipped in decadent chocolate rounded out the celebration. The crowd was well dressed and in high spirits. It was a terrific evening, and a tremendous salute to 50 years of Cleo.

Elegance and style are characteristic of the Cleo Sandal
Photo by Cynthia Musco

In the world of fashion, few creations have stood the test of time like the Cleo sandal. As this timeless style icon reaches its remarkable 50-year milestone, fashion enthusiasts worldwide are coming together to celebrate its success, desirability, and unmatched uniqueness.

Maison Rene Caovilla, renowned for designing shoes that are veritable works of art, has taken center stage in commemorating Cleo’s legacy. To mark the occasion, the Maison unveiled a fascinating retrospective named “The Art of Dreams: Cleo, A Style Icon For 50 Years.” The exhibition first wowed audiences during Milan Fashion Week in February 2023 and has now arrived in Las Vegas. Accompanying the showcase is a special commemorative book that chronicles the birth and evolution of the Cleo design. As part of its global journey, the exhibition will travel to various destinations throughout the year, showcasing Cleo’s enduring impact on the world of fashion.

The tale of Cleo’s genesis is an enchanting one, intertwined with the creative brilliance of René Caovilla himself. Inspired by a serpent-shaped Roman bracelet from the 1st century BCE in the Archaeological Museum in Naples, René envisioned a sophisticated ankle wrap design that would become the emblem of the Maison’s distinctiveness. The Cleo sandal debuted in 1973.

Snake-like strap accents the shoe
Photo by Cynthia Musco

At the core of Cleo’s allure are two defining traits of Maison Rene Caovilla’s aesthetic: the captivating snake motif and opulent embellishments, each meticulously applied by hand. The result is a genuine cult item, treasured by celebrities and fashion aficionados alike. Its status as a fashion icon was solidified in 1975 when Cleo was showcased at MoMA in New York, elevating it to the ranks of modern art.

Achieving the perfect balance of originality and wearability required technical ingenuity. The hallmark snake-shaped coiled strap that wraps gracefully around the ankle, inspired by alarm clock springs, is arguably the shoe’s most remarkable feature. A testament to inventive engineering, this coiled strap retains its shape over time, adding to Cleo’s allure as a timeless classic.
Throughout its history, Cleo has embraced evolution, reflecting changing times and trends while maintaining its signature style. Variations in heel shapes, from stiletto to flared to block heels, continue to appeal to diverse tastes.

Additionally, Cleo’s embellishments reflect amazing creativity. From pearls and feathers to beads, lace, and intricate embroidery, the sandal exudes beauty, boldness, and intrigue. The iconic silver-dusted glittered sole imparts an extra touch of glamour.

Cleo’s allure extends well beyond the catwalk, captivating numerous A-list celebrities on red carpets worldwide. Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts, Emma Watson, Zendaya, Rihanna, Bella Hadid, Dilraba Dilmurat, Lalisa Manoban, and Sona Kapoor Ahija are just a few of the stars who own Cleo.

As the fashion world anticipates the next chapter of Cleo’s journey, René Caovilla remains dedicated to the pursuit of perfection. With a vision that transcends time and trends, he emphasizes that the best version of Cleo is yet to come.

With its 50-year celebration in full swing, Cleo’s legacy continues to shine bright, leaving an indelible mark on the world of style and glamour.


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