Shoe of the Month – Willem Ruys

Willem Ruys

This striking shoe sc

ulpture is called Willem Ruys and was conceived and made by the Dutch artist Joyce de Gruiter in 2011 / 2013.

With an endless source of inspiration from top designers such as Louboutin, Blahnik, Vivienne Westwood and Jimmy Choo, Joyce de Gruiter designs and manufacturers her own shoe collection Shoes 2 Make U Happy. These are shoes not to wear but to admire. Her shoe sculptures are made of mixed media and wood and finished with 22 carat gold leaf and pearlescent pigments. She takes architectural forms that although playful, sometimes undergo an ironic metamorphosis.

This shoe sculpture was inspired by the passenger ship Willem Ruys which, in the 1940s, brought the designer’s parents from Asia to Europe, which was a meeting of two opposite cultures and literally East meeting West.

Willem-Ruys Shoe Sculpture

Willem-Ruys Shoe Sculpture

The sculpture is made from wood, krijinto, pearlescent paint and gold leaf.

Northampton Museums and Art Gallery is always delighted to expand its collection of shoe sculptures from around the world.

Shoe of the Month-Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit

These fabulous boots were designed and made by artist April Phillips in 2013. Can you see what is different about them? Yes, the rabbits have three ears and the boots are, unsurprisingly named The Rabbit Has Three Ears.

These boots are just one pair of five made by Australian artist April Phillips from preliminary sketches made at Hospitalfield House during her Royal Overseas League annual artist residency in 2010.

The Rabbit Has Three Ears Boots

The Rabbit Has Three Ears Boots

The Imaginary Happenings of Hospitalfield explores the alternative realities of being removed from everyday modern life and how our imagination can transport us to see the world anew.

All of the imagery decorating the boots has been illustrated, hand carved and painted in layers by hand. April Phillips explores a story influenced by the history and unique experience of spending time living and working at Hospitalfield.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is always keen to add contemporary footwear to the shoe collection and we are delighted  to have these wonderful boots in the collection.

Shoe of the Month – Lego-tastic!

Lego-tastic!

Shoes can be made from many different materials. This shoe has been made from Lego!

It was made by Sami Smith aged 8, a local Northampton schoolboy. He is Lego mad and decided one day to create a Lego shoe. It took him most of a day. He then thought where would be the best place to display it and he thought of us at Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, the home to Europe’s largest shoe collection. We are delighted to be able to display it as our February shoe of the month.

Lego-Shoe

Lego-Shoe

Interview with Crockett and Jones

Crockett & Jones

“You quickly understand the level of expertise that went into producing such a wonderful product”

Founded in 1879 in Northampton, at the heart of England’s most famous shoe making town, Crockett & Jones is today renowned throughout the world for their fine quality shoes for both men and women.

As a 5th generation family business Crockett & Jones remain committed to maintaining the highest standards of traditional craftsmanship, quality and service which have been appreciated by their customers for more than 130 years. Using Goodyear welted construction and only the finest leathers available, Crockett & Jones shoes have an exceptional combination of comfort, elegance and durability in wear.

At present there are 11 Crockett & Jones retail shops and concessions based in London, Birmingham, Paris, Brussels and New York. Crockett & Jones shops provide both a stylish and contemporary showcase for an extensive ready to wear footwear collection, including velvet slippers and driving shoes, as well as a selection of smart, luxurious accessories.

Where are you based and what is your workspace like?  

The Crockett & Jones factory is based at the heart of the famous shoe making town of Northampton. This is also where all operations for the company are undertaken, including design and development.

The factory dates back to the 1890’s with additions to the main building in 1910 and 1935, which completes the vast space we work in today.

The entire factory boasts huge proportions of glass to give superb natural lighting throughout the building, which makes for a pleasant working environment. It is far from a dark factory, although it can get rather cold in the winter and extremely warm in the summer.

How does your company’s design or development process work?  

Our Managing Director, Jonathan Jones manages the process and decides all collection changes throughout the year. Having a ‘product man’ at the head of the business is a huge benefit to the company. There is nothing he doesn’t know about our shoes as he has designed/developed most of them himself.

In terms of timescales, we naturally work towards Spring Summer and Autumn Winter. These are the times we show our range at trade shows in Florence (Pitti Uomo) and Milan (MICAM).

Working with his pattern cutters, Jonathan will decide the styles he wants to sample in new colour ways or even a new specification (contrast stitch/new sole). He also decides on any new styles that he may have in mind. New styles are always tested by running a ‘pull over’ or even a test pair through the factory before bulk production begins.

Our development process is not one of design, more of experience and understanding of the various markets we sell into. It is about understanding what the end consumer wants and often comes down to whether you would you wear it yourself.

How do historic/vintage shoes relate to your current Collection? Do you use them for inspiration? Is there a continuity or evolution of a vintage style throughout your brands history?

We still have shoes in our showroom that date back to the 1920’s and they would inspire anyone in the shoe trade today. These shoes are one of the reasons Jonathan decided to focus on producing  high quality, luxury mens shoes. When you hold a style from that era, you quickly understand the level of expertise that went into producing such a wonderful product. It certainly focuses your mind on achieving that once again.

If you compare a catalogue from the early 20th century to this year’s edition, you can see the continuity and evolution of our development. Crockett & Jones is now in its 5th generation of family management; this and our heritage are the biggest strengths in this development process.

Describe the historic/vintage shoe you picked.

We have chosen our Derby shoe with punches toe cap (Crockett & Jones 026) which probably dates back to 1930’s. 

Crockett & Jones Derby Shoe

Crockett & Jones Derby Shoe

Why did you pick it? What do you love about it?  

What is noticeable about this historic shoe is the tight trimming on the heel and close wheeling or fudging around the welt. This would almost certainly have been done by hand without the aid of any powered machines/tools. You can also note the closeness of the stitching, which would be 20 stiches to the inch. Finally, I particularly like the facing detail on this vintage style. Shoe making at its best.

We have a similar style in our Mail Line Collection called Bristol (new last season) which shows the history and elegance of a similar pattern. You will notice a rubber sole on our modern day version, this is a regular choice sole in the modern era of shoe manufacturing.

Crockett & Jones Bristol Shoe

Crockett & Jones Bristol Shoe

Interview with shoe designers Pretty Ballerinas

Interview with shoe designers Pretty Ballerinas

“We work with the best suppliers in the world”

Pretty Ballerinas is a brand of ballerinas and flat shoes launched in 2005 via its own website, PrettyBallerinas.com

Although the name is relatively new, the shoes have been made in the same village on the Mediterranean island of Menorca by the same family since 1918.

Each shoe shape is named after a female screen or music icon to help customers remember which shape suits them best.

Pretty Ballerinas opened its first boutique at 34 Brook Street in Mayfair, London in February 2007, followed by stores in Pont Street, Belgravia and Threadneedle Street in The City of London. The year after saw the first retail outlets in continental Europe with two stores being opened in “Barrio”

The interview below with Sophie was conducted by Ellen Sampson, Cinderella project Curator. For more information on the groundbreaking Cinderella project go to http://www.northampton.gov.uk/thecinderellasyndrome

Or follow us on twitter or facebook

Where are you based and what is your workspace like?  

Mediterranean island of Menorca.

We have our own state of the art production and design facilities in the same village where we started 95 years ago. We have the design offices looking over a mountain full of Mediterranean pine trees and the factory part of the building below. Next door we have 6500 square feet of retail space where we showcase the collections.

How does your company’s design or development process work?  

We develop the lasts (shapes) first, then investigate materials then design the uppers and combine the materials on each style. Each shoe passes through between sixty and a hundred loving pairs of hands before it is finished.

What Inspires the Shoes you produce?

Our customers desires, our lives where we live and when we travel, our past and fashion trends. We also work with the best suppliers in the world who show us new things and we get inspired working to paraphrase Picasso!!!

How do historic/vintage shoes relate to your current Collection? Do you use them for inspiration? Is there a continuity or evolution of a vintage style throughout your brands history?

Sure – we have shoes that go back to 1918 and even have shapes we still use from the 1960s. We keep the old shoes in a special cabinet to remember techniques and special designs.

Pretty Ballerina Modern

Pretty Ballerina Modern

Describe the historic/vintage shoe you picked.

The shoes I sent the picture of I chose because they are a recreation of the first ballerina we made when we started in 1918. They are made by hand and the original would have had a sole that didn’t reach the end of the shoe so the dancer could “feel” the floor with her toes.  

Pretty Ballerina Modern

Pretty Ballerina Modern

 

 

Interview with shoe designer Kevin Martel, Harry’s of London

Interview with shoe designer Kevin Martel, Harry’s of London

“I am a self confessed loafer guy”

Harrys of London is a luxury shoemaker and accessories house known for combining traditional craftsmanship with the latest footwear technology. The brand mission is to create innovative footwear and accessories defined by exceptional quality, design and technology. Based in London’s Belgravia district, the company operates seven freestanding flagship boutiques globally and two shop-in-shops in Japan. Harrys of London shoes are sold in the most prestigious luxury department stores and specialty retailers in over 20 countries worldwide.

In 2005 American designer Kevin Martel was recruited by the Harrys of London Board of Directors from the design offices of Giorgio Armani in Milan and appointed Creative Director. Martel contributes nearly 20 years of knowledge and experience designing men’s footwear for iconic  menswear designers. Martel’s unique design aesthetic and global sensibility is a result of a career formed in his native USA and followed by numerous years living and working in Italy and the UK.

The interview below with Sophie was conducted by Ellen Sampson, Cinderella project Curator. For more information on the groundbreaking Cinderella project go to http://www.northampton.gov.uk/thecinderellasyndrome

Or follow us on twitter or facebook

Where are you based and what is your workspace like?  

My home and office are in Belgravia – exactly 12 minutes on foot.

We work in a large, contemporary open-plan office. My workspace is strangely neat and tidy. I am the most anally retentive designer I know. I like a spotless desk, neatly organised pens, paper and a simple laptop. I clean the desktop and organise my supplies before making any new sketch. It’s kind of a cleansing process.

How does your company’s design or development process work?

For a company based on research and technology, our design process is still quite traditional. I draw every design by hand first – in pencil – and then we digitise the sketch to create the actual design specification.

We work with small English and Italian workshops and make the prototypes directly with the factory. I work very closely with all my factories and suppliers. It’s all about managing the details. The sketch takes 5 minutes, but the actual shoe often takes months to perfect.

What inspires the Shoes you produce?  

I am (selfishly) inspired by my own needs but more importantly the needs of my customers. I am fascinated by the feedback I get directly from the consumer, because ultimately, they are the final judge of our success as designers

How do historic/vintage shoes relate to your current Collection? Do you use them for inspiration? Is there a continuity or evolution of a vintage style throughout your brands history?

Like most all men – our style does not really change much over the years. We continue to replace the same items in our wardrobes, but with only minor evolutions or design changes.

I am a self confessed loafer guy. I have been wearing variations on the same shoes since I was a kid growing up in New England in the 1970’s.

Harrys Basel Loafer

Harrys Basel Loafer

My mother received a pair of tiny native American fur-lined moccasins as a baby gift for me, which I have always found very charming. The ironic part is that this most traditional historic footwear is still the most comfortable when made correctly. It inspires everything that I find chic, from the classic Gucci bit loafer to my own designs today for Harrys of London.

Describe the historic/vintage shoe you picked.

I have chosen a Native American Indian moccasin that is similar in design to my baby shoes. The way a moccasin is constructed, with the leather wrapping around your foot from below with a handsewn vamp has not changed for thousand of years.

Moccasins

Moccasins

Why did you pick it? What do you love about it?  

There is something so charming and chic about the construction and design that reminds me of my childhood, very preppy and sort of ‘cowboys and indians’ from American film culture of that period, but also still influences me today.

The loafers I design today are injected with more technological advances and modern production methods, but the idea, construction and comfort is still the same.

I am constantly designing hand sewn moccasins. I love the simplicity, comfort and ease of a good loafer – worn with no socks…of course.

Shoe of the Month – One warm step for mankind…

One warm step for mankind…

Keep your feet lovely and toasty this January in a pair of original Moon Boots. Footwear manufacturers Tecnica of Giavera del Montelo, Italy, created the iconic Moon Boot in the early 1970s. They soon took off and became a popular fashion trend.  Tecnica trademarked the Moon Boot name in 1978 and still manufacture the original moon boot today. There are many imitations but with the name only trademark, only the Tecnica boot can be marked as the original moon boot.

Moon Boots

Moon Boots

The boot is said to be the ultimate in comfort. The uppers are nylon with a crisscross lace system to snuggle down and fit perfectly.

The lower waterproof PVC sole has great traction. The boots are sized small, medium and large and there is no left or right foot due to the boot’s polyester form lining. These boots will keep you warm in -30 degrees. They were donated in 2006.