Interview with shoe designer Atalanta Weller

Interview with shoe designer Atalanta Weller

A woman designing for women

Since she began in 2009, Atalanta Weller’s eponymous brand, now in its 7th season, has been steadily captivating its global fan-base.  Described by the fashion industry as one-to-watch, Weller continues to make the transition from hot young thing to fully-fledged designer brand.

Show-stopping collaborations with avant-garde UK designers Gareth Pugh, Henry Holland and Sinha Stanic led directly to Atalanta Weller’s first solo collection and instant NEWGEN recognition, which she won for three consecutive seasons.

For Weller the technical aspects of shoe design are the first and foremost when constructing shoe. This drives the creation of her exceptional, beautiful and luxurious shoes. Whether a flat or a 6-inch stiletto it must be comfortable.  She is a woman designing for women.

Atalanta Weller Portrait

Atalanta Weller Portrait

Well known for her avant-garde concept shoes, her creativity sparks from the cross-pollination of London’s fashion, art and design scene.

Atalanta’s innovative style has developed from experience acquired through work with Clarks, Hugo Boss and John Richmond, and others. Weller is already inspiring the next generation as a guest lecturer on the MA course at the London College of Fashion and was guest judge on the prestigious panel of the Footwear Friends Award 2011.

Atalanta Weller’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. Atalanta 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 Atalanta was conducted by Ellen Sampson, Cinderella project Curator. For more information on the ground breaking Cinderella project go to http://www.northampton.gov.uk/thecinderellasyndrome

Or follow us on twitter or facebook

Where do you design and what is your workspace like?

I was based in East London for 12 years, but I recently moved to a new studio in Notting hill, which I love.

I have many shoes all over the studio walls, from different decades and countries and each has a story to tell…

I work at two desks, one from where I manage the business side of the brand and the other is my designing space/ work shop where I can draw, make clay models and come up with new ideas.  It’s great to have the split between the two.

How does your design process work?  

I usually begin with three starting points – the Shape, the Material and the Feeling; the end purpose for the shoe and how the wearer should feel in it. I tend to work on all three at the same time.

I start with some research, in galleries, museums, books, films, things and people I see on the street. I collect images and sketch ideas, both on paper, and on the Last (the form the shoe is built on). I then make models in clay and in paper and in leather and once I’m satisfied with the first prototypes, I go to the factory either in Portugal or Spain where I work more on the shoes with developers over the following couple of months to perfect each idea and shoe before it is finally shown to the buyers and press.

What inspires you when you design?  

The desire to create fine luxury shoes for amazing and inspirational women around me. I’m inspired by many things – sometimes a new design come from a feeling, or a shape, something I see on the street, or in a museum. I love to reference films, usually something with a modern, yet retro feel with an element of fantasy. 

My background is in sculpture, I’m a great fan of the sculptor Barbara Hepworth and also Salvatore Ferragamo, but I am drawn to the technical complexities of shoes and finding an aesthetical balance. It is a constant quest to create something that is new, but also comfortable and wearable. My ultimate mission is to create a shoe that in turn inspires the wearer to do great things.

How do historic/vintage shoes inspire your designs?  

When I was a sculpture student I found an old pair of Palter / Deliso 1940s shoes in a charity shop. They were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, I fell for the simplicity, the lines, the shape and the functionality.

From then on I knew what I wanted to do and my path was set – by an old pair of shoes!

Shoe making is such an ancient craft, and it’s always both humbling and inspiring to see what was done before,  e.g. specific techniques, crazy styles, stitching, pattern developments, or something technical which has pushed material boundaries in that time.

It’s inspiring to try to follow in that tradition, to build on that knowledge and to create new shoes

Describe the historic/vintage shoe you picked?

The shoe I have chosen is a men’s welted oxford lace up with the ¾ vamp in Vinyl.  I love how this traditional men’s style becomes something totally new when made in Vinyl.

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

I picked it for its combination of traditional shoemaking craft, which, when combined with an extraordinary material becomes something completely new.

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Interview with shoe designer Sophie Cox

 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 Portrait

Sophie-Cox Portrait

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

Or follow us on twitter or facebook

 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

Interview with shoe designer Mr. Hare

Interview with shoe designer Mr. Hare

Shoe designs you can attach romance to.

Mr. Hare, the brand, was conceived at a roadside Tapas bar in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Andalucia, Spain on July 23rd 2008. Mr hare states “I was looking at the woven leather shoes of the old gentleman sitting next to me thinking those shoes could be so awesome with a few tweaks, but who could I get to make them?” Five minutes later Mr. Hare, the brand, was born.

Before Mr. Hare the brand, Mr. Hare, the person, had a long and winding career, which included working at Lynne Franks PR in the late 80s, opening London’s only proper surf shop called Low Pressure in 1992 and working as a design consultant for British outdoor company Karrimor. As a marketing consultant Mr Hare worked for companies including Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Speedo, Caterpillar, Sebago, Dr. Martens, O’Neill, Reebok, Levi’s and Kangol.

Mr. Hare Portrait

Mr. Hare Portrait

Mr. Hare, the person, has no formal training in shoe design or any other form of design. He just knows what he needs and knows what he likes.

Mr. Hare, the person’s, goal in life is to live in a beach house somewhere hot that I can surf my older days away, before I am too old to surf. Therefore, Mr. Hare, the brand, will make a small number of essential products extremely well for the people who desire them the most. Mr. Hare, the person, believes that this is the ethical way to do business with small companies developing  pockets of great expertise instead of a few large corporations affecting a brain drain for unnecessary greedy economical gain.

Mr. Hare, the shoes, are currently designed wherever I choose. They are handmade in Empoli, in Tuscany, in Italy. In future they will be made wherever the greatest manufacturer best suited to the task is located. The daily operations of Mr. Hare, the brand, the person, the blog, happen in London.

Mr. Hare‘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. Mr Hare has chosen a vintage shoe from the Northampton Museums and Art Gallery archive which is displayed alongside a shoe from his current collection.

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

Or follow us on twitter or facebook

Where do you design and what is your workspace like?  

As far away from my workspace as possible. I prefer complete separation from the administrative side of the business when I am thinking about product so I generally get started while on vacation and conclude my designs with some inspirational factory visits. Essentially I only need a pencil and a piece of paper and a clear head to design.

How does your design process work?  

It starts logically with a line list and then I see how far I can stray from the logical before reigning in the salient points to create something that has a commercial chance.

What inspires you when you design?  

I never know until it hits.

How do historic/vintage shoes inspire your designs?  

There are great engineering considerations in making shoes. They are high contact items. Old shoes show us how to best address these considerations sometimes with a stylish flourish, other times more mechanically. 

Describe the historic/vintage shoe you picked.  

I chose this sneaker because it highlight a point where traditional shoe pattern cutting and structure informed a new way of constructing a sports shoe. The toe construction borrows from a wingtip while the whole shoe uses similar styling to a traditional brogue. 

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

Apart from being an Air Jordan, I picked it because it is perfect and timeless. Made on classic colours you have a shoe which is as classic as a five hole Oxford or a brogue Derby.

Interview with shoe designer Joanne Stoker

Interview with shoe designer Joanne Stoker

Architectural structure and signature bold colour.

Delivering daring and unconventional pieces season after season, the unrivalled vision associated with Joanne Stokers heel construction and bold colour combinations has become synonymous with the designer and her talent for seeking out unforeseen trends. Never fearing innovation; steel, perspex, crystals and even LED’s are all part of her repertoire, presenting designs which are both unforgettable and unmistakably her own. Taking inspiration from architecture the world over, she incorporates principals of space and structure to influence her own designs. The result – an intelligent, strong silhouette that does not compromise style or femininity.

A former Cordwainers graduate, Joanne’s unique talent has caught the attention of many designers. She has collaborated with Matthew Williamson on the launch of his first collection, designed footwear for Eudon Choi’s LFW runway show and has had further collaboration with The Dune Group. Recognised by Jimmy Choo on completing her Masters, she went on to do a mentorship with the iconic designer before establishing her own luxury label. Joanne has won many awards including First into Fashion, The British Footwear Association Design Award and The Vogue Talents Award in Milan to name but a few.

Joanne Stoker Portrait

Joanne Stoker Portrait

Joanne Stoker has fast carved her name on the fashion world, standing out by crafting signature pieces with daring and unconventional colours and materials. The artistry associated with her heel construction and bold colour combinations has become particularly synonymous with the designer’s unrivalled vision.

It is easy to see that the former Cordwainers graduate takes her inspiration from architecture around the globe. By using structures on the grandest scale and incorporating their principals to influence her own designs, she creates an intelligent and strong silhouette without compromising style or femininity.

Joanne‘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. Joanne 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 Joanne was conducted by Ellen Sampson, Cinderella project Curator. For more information on the ground breaking Cinderella project go to http://www.northampton.gov.uk/thecinderellasyndrome

Or follow us on twitter or facebook.

Where do you design and what is your workspace like?

From my warehouse studio in Haggerston, N1. It’s really very organised. I don’t like working in a messy environment

How does your design process work?  

I tend to start off with a few themes and create mood boards and then start sketching. My biggest inspiration comes from materials though I love trailing through Linea Pelle fair for new fabrications, textures and materials.

What inspires you when you design?

Mostly art, culture and travel as a starting point, I love architecture and the fabrications of materials used in architecture especially places like morocco and India, secondly its finding the materials and creating the prototypes that is where your vision starts to become real. Trying on a final sample always feels amazing.

How do historic/vintage shoes inspire your designs?  

I don’t tend to look at historic shoes to often as I try to keep a modern fresh approach to my designs; however platforms from the 60s/ 70s always catch my eye. I just love the boldness of them and the mix of bright colours, with the chunky soles. I am a great fan of disco music too so I can just see people dancing along in those amazing platform shoes.

Describe the historic/vintage shoe you picked. Why did you pick it?

The style I chose is a platform open toe sandal and has a great mix of colours; it combines an unusual shape heel with print and graphic pattern cutting.  I really adore the colours and the unusual shape of the heel and sole, it definitely could be revamped and be worn as a modern shoe of today. The graphic pattern of the front of the upper combined with the wavy printed sole just looks so cool.  I love a 70s disco style shoe!

Interview with shoe designer Camilla Skovgaard

Interview with shoe designer Camilla Skovgaard.

Unconventional shaping inspired by architectural trends.

Camilla Skovgaard’s bold, innovative, and instantly recognizable footwear is the product of a personal passion of the introvert and the alternative. Her pieces explore the subversive whilst straddling the lines between elegance and brutality.   

Skovgaard found success directly out of London’s Royal College of Art, when, in 2006, while still enrolled as a student, Saks Fifth Avenue placed an order from her first collection. She was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth Scholar Award for Excellence in British Craftsmanship in 2007 and nominated for Accessories Designer of the Year at the 2010 British Fashion Awards. Her work has been embraced by the world’s most influential fashion editors, as well as celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, and Kristen Stewart.

Dismissing embellishment, Skovgaard places emphasis on ergonomics, looking at form, fabrication and style. This DNA is inherent throughout the AW13 collection and is responsible for the structural point of view. Unconventional shaping with architecturally inspired treads is at the fore.

The Camilla Skovgaard woman has an eye for considered pared down detailing and look to her for intellectual sophistication. Skovgaard’s affinity with eroticism, architecture and classism encapsulates timelessness and in turn creates pieces that do not adhere to standard influences of a season.

Camilla Skovgaard Portrait

Camilla Skovgaard Portrait

Camilla’s admiration of worldly design classics and sinister gothic landscapes are crucial inspirations in her design. Shaping signature styles like the innovative saw sole and the austere elegant stilettos characterize reference points that are core to each collection’s handwriting.

Camilla‘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. Camilla 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 Camilla was conducted by Ellen Sampson, Cinderella project Curator. For more information on the ground breaking Cinderella project go to http://www.northampton.gov.uk/thecinderellasyndrome

Or follow us on twitter or facebook.

 Where do you design and what is your workspace like?  

 I work between Dubai and London so have offices set up in both locations.  Both spaces are kept minimal without a lot of clutter.

My personal workspace is that of a nomad-mobile.

I like it tight and concise-no flutter, prefer to have it all in 3 files with me when I travel-one for design/leathers, one for factory and one for the most current company admin.

 How does your design process work?  

I often start with an idea from a doodle or line-I tend to start off with tiny drawings on post-it notes! I start with linear drawings that eventually turn into a distinct form.

What inspires you when you design?  

It can be anything from a line I see, to a style or mood or just things that come together when I’m at the factory.  It’s all very organic.

Describe the historic shoe you picked, what do you like about it?  

The shoe I selected has a more linear feel and the metallic leather reminded me of the bold heelless wedge from my recent Spring/Summer 2013 collection.

Of all the 1920’s and 30’s shoes in Northampton Museum and Art Gallery Shoe collection the shape and metallic straps of this one resonated most closely with my linear style.