Interview with shoe designer Sophie Cox
‘Fashion that felt good’
Sophie Cox is a 31 year old footwear designer who was born in Sydney, Australia. She had an unusual beginning for a footwear designer, growing up in either riding boots or spending the summers in Australia with bare feet.
Her path to fashion was far from glamorous also, as one of only a handful of female students in a four year industrial design course. However, here she learnt of the relationship between shoes and design innovation, illustrating a practical streak, which is what makes Cox so interesting. This encouraged her to invent a shoe that flipped from a flat to a high heel, designing ‘beauty you could walk in…’.
She later won the Drapers Student footwear designer of the year award and graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2009.
Sophie Cox ‘s designs will be on display from the 11th until the 29th September at Westfield Shopping Centre London as part of a pop up exhibition from Northampton Museum and Art Gallery’s shoe collection. Sophie has chosen a vintage shoe from the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery archive which is displayed alongside a shoe from her current collection.
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
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Where do you design and what is your workspace like?
I design in my office at home or my hotel in Italy when I am visiting the factory. Sometimes I find working away from your usual environment can bring about the best ideas because you can really concentrate on your work without distractions. I often think of ideas away from my desk and I will sketch them down on a notepad and come back to them later when I am developing the collection.
My desk starts off ordered and then becomes increasingly cluttered as the design process moves forward. I like to have a clean desk before I start sketching.
How does your design process work?
I usually start with research and sketch ideas and combine the two to create a mood for the season. I pin up research images on my notice board along with things that I find interesting like textures, certain photographic images, vintage looks and architectural images. I refer to them during the design process to give me inspiration.
What inspires you when you design?
I am inspired by discrete couture, frosty French glamour, film noir and the hard candy glamour of 80s French fashion photography. The style references I take from these elements are subtle: the silk satin tip of a shoe evoking the lapel of a YSL Smoking, an hand sculpted Perspex heel nodding to Helmut Newton.
How do historic/vintage shoes inspire your designs?
Historic design influences the way I design. I like to reinterpret what has been done in the past using new techniques and materials. I look at historic shoes to see how to reinterpret them with modern influences. Most shoes have been made using the same artisanal techniques for centuries. It is this element of craft that is wonderful.
Why did you pick it? What do you love about it?
I have picked a pair of early 1930s women’s blue suede lace tie shoes. They have an intricate cut out design on the vamp. I love the ‘Peek-A-Boo’ design created by the intricate cut out design details. I appreciate the craftsmanship involved in making them, as it is a complex pattern. I usually like to use materials that create this type of intricate detail in my shoes. The mesh and nappa detailing of the Divine Breath shoe also creates a similar effect