Exclusive Interview: Nicholas Kirkwood

He's the shoe designer loved by Rooney Mara, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst. So when an invitation to meet the Nicholas Kirkwood at his London flagship store arrived on our desk we raced there as fast as our heels would let us

He’s the shoe designer loved by Rooney Mara, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst. So when an invitation to meet Nicholas Kirkwood at his London flagship store arrived on our desk, we raced there as fast as our heels would let us.

Can you reveal a little bit about your SS/13 collection to us?
I’m trying to keep it quite colourful. I’ve got lots of new structures and new heel heights. I’m even doing some lower heel heights this season.

How difficult is that?
It’s a challenge. I’m trying to explore fun ways to do it without it being kind of ‘mumsy.’ I’m trying to be more adventurous with it by looking at the structure.

For AW/12 you referenced the film ‘Midnight in Paris.’ Was there anything in particular on your mood board for this season?
It’s more how I feel the spirit of the collection is rather than a direct reference to a period or something. Normally I start doodling different shapes. It’s always quite sculptural, architecturally inspired but not neccessarily a direct reference from it.

Are you designing shoes for any fashion designers this season?
Yes, again for Peter Pilotto and Erdem. I’m also doing shoes for Philip Treacy, he’s showing for the first time in twelve years.

You started out as his shop assistant orignially?
Yes it’s quite funny. He called and was like ‘I need some shoes, can you help?’ I said ‘of course!’

How much of their collection do you get to see?
We meet up and I see the initial ideas and swatch fabrics. I don’t normally see the finished clothes until the day of the show.

Do you enjoy talking to other designers?
I love doing the collaborations. Quite often it allows me to design outside of my own box, in a way. I might do things I might not put in my own collection.

CHECK OUT NICHOLAS KIRKWOOD FOR ERDEM AW/12

Tell us about your design process?
I’m a big fan of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. I’m always travelling back and forth to the factory and it’s a fantastic tool to have as it’s so light. I use it mainly to sketch. I use to feel really self-concious using a penicil and paper on the aeroplane as everyone would look at what I was doing but nobody bats an eyelid when I’m working on the device.

We imagine using that type of technology is quite different to when you first started out?
Yes, I didn’t even use email when I first started. With the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 it’s useful to have the S Pen to draw with rather than just using your fingers, it makes it feel much more natural. I love using the spilt screen technology too. I can look things up on the internet like a texture, then take a screenshot of it and place it over the image rather than having to print and cut it out.

Can we expect to see more than just shoes from you from now on?
Well I’m designing men’s shoes next which is an easy sort of side step. But bags is really my next big step. It’s not a million miles away. I’m not putting a timeline on it but I’d like to do it for SS/14.

Who is the Nicholas Kirkwood shoe-wearer?
Since I’ve opened my shops I’ve had a more direct understanding of who she is. In general she’s independently minded and doesn’t take herself too seriously.

How involved are you in the design of your stores?
I designed the one in London myself. I wanted it to have a ‘galleryesque’ feel about it but not cold. It’s important for it to be all quite neutral and light. I really want the shoes to be the colour in a way.

How should a customer store your shoes?
Coloured suede will fade in sunlight so keep them in the box. It also keeps dust off of them. Don’t keep them in plastic as the heat will damage them too. One of the girls in my studio has a special cupboard with little shelves for all hers. If you’re really lucky that’s the best way to store them!

Why do you think women are obsessed with shoes?
I’m not entirely sure why but I like it, they’re good customers. I think women have a connection to shoes in a different way to clothing because it physically changes the shape of your body. It makes you taller, arches your back and makes your feel more confident.

Fashion week is fast approaching. How crazy is it at the moment?
It takes time for the shoes to be made so I’m trying to cram everything into the three weeks before it all starts. I’m usually relaxed the week before because it’s all done. Everyone in my studio is like ‘phew can we go on holiday now!’

Inspired by the Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1’s culture of intuitively aiding creativity, productivity and personalised communications, Nicholas has designed an exclusive limited edition leather case for the Samsung GALAXY Note 10.1, which will be unveiled at Fashion’s Night Out on 6th September, at the Samsung Stage. Visit the website for more information.

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