Carlos Santana doesn’t care to talk much about fashion. Conversation invariably leads to his appreciation of the visionaries (mainly musicians and social activists) he keeps close to his heart and his two upcoming releases, a 10th-anniversary edition of his comeback album Supernatural and a new solo album for Arista Records.
Whether he expounds on it or not, Santana does have his own style. He’s an aficionado of fedoras and dark suits. Beautiful print shirts, sometimes featuring an image of a personal hero such as Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix, are standard stage wear. At a Sunday-night performance at The Joint at Hard Rock, where his “Supernatural Santana: A Trip Through the Hits” residency has been extended well into 2010, he wore a shirt that looked like a Jackson Pollock canvas.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that one of the many ventures Santana lends his name to is... an eponymous line of women’s shoes. “People came to Supernatural and they aligned their visionand products with us,” says Santana. (In addition to Carlos by Carlos Santana shoes, the rock god also associates himself with the wine brand Mumm Napa and the restaurant chain Maria Maria.)
In conjunction with his new enterprises, Santana established a children’s charitable foundation, Milagro, in 1998, so there would be a place for the proceeds to go. “Even though it’s materialistic, I love things that make women feel sexy and beautiful, and I love making women happy,”he says of the Carlos by Carlos Santana shoes. “That money goes right back into schools.”
But while his name is on the label, Santana doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night with a vision for a new heel or the ultimate open-toe design. “I only have input when they bring [a design] to me and I go, ‘That kind or this kind,’” he says. “They give it names like the Mambo or the Samba, different fashions for different ladies in different seasons. I just like [it] if it makes the ladies happy, because ladies like to feel elegant and sexy.”
Carlos Santana (ABOVE LEFT); Leopard and black Innuendo heel (BELOW RIGHT)