I should have written about Anastasia Radevich’s designs a long time ago, but I kept putting it off. It’s not because I don’t think her shoes are interesting; if anything, I thought her first collection might be too interesting. Often designers who show that much vibrancy so early on can’t keep up the momentum, but that hasn’t been the case with Ms Radevich. My initial doubt was definitely misplaced, because she has all the ingredients of an amazing designer: she is Canadian, the third generation of shoe designers, and she studied shoe design at the London College of Fashion before working for Alexander McQueen, Nicholas Kirkwood, and Bolongaro Trevor.
She debuted her first eponymous collection, Biofuture, in 2009. The designs were inspired by marine biology: ocean waves, jellyfish, seaweed, mermaids, and coral.
Technology plays an important role in both the development and the look of each design, and her workshop is as much a laboratory as a design studio. She works with her fiancé Nicholas, an engineer, to perfect the mechanics of each design. She starts with 3D modeling to create an initial prototype before the design is sent to Italy for handmade production.
The next collection, Kinetik, was even more obviously influenced by technology. The most famous design from the collection uses fiber optics to create an illuminated pattern on the sides of the shoe. A tiny switch at the ankle controls the action. The image above is courtesy of Luxirare, and they have a lot more beautiful photos from this collection on their site.
The entire collection shares that fantastic metal squiggle of a heel and the sled blades platform. The uppers vary from enclosed booties to sandals made of metallic leather. All of the designs are full of the frenetic energy and industrial detailing you would expect from the name “Kinetik”.
Ms Radevich returned to nature in the following collection, Dreamfall. The designs are just as sculpturally aggressive as the previous collections, but now the shapes and colors are softer, more romantic. White, grey and blush are prominent and the textures are lacy and feminine, full of beading and ruching.
Luminescent sea creatures and shells are the inspiration behind the ombre and pearlized detailing.
Her most recent collection, Lost Civilizations, is even more heavily thematic than her previous work. The collection is divided into three groups: Past, Present, and Future. Each group is united by the theme of destruction and resurrection. That seems like an overly ambitious message to convey in a shoe collection, but Ms Radevich makes it work. The materials, silhouettes and detailing manage to express her message without overworking the designs
The Past was inspired by significant events that affected the environment and civilizations in the ancient world. The designs pictured above represent the Ice Age. The most effective designs from this group are those that reference lost cities like Atlantis. The detailing is amazing: the metal of the heels was allowed to rust, and sequins and beading were sewn in patterns to evoke the textures you see on objects that have spent a long time underwater.
The designs from The Present comment on current environmental issues and man’s destructive effect on the planet. The heels are shaped to be reminiscent of oil rigs and mining equipment.
The uppers are made of silk that has been screen-printed with images of oil spills, tar sand mines, and atomic bombs.
Ms Radevich’s message gets a very literal translation into design in the “This Will Destroy You” booties. I love the combination of the dark message and the glittering material in which it’s written. It’s provocative and incredibly beautiful.
The final group – The Future – is the most abstract, but I find it the most compelling. The designs represent a world where nature has returned to balance after man’s destructive influence.
The heels are hand carved from resin into sinuous organic shapes. The colors are muted and natural, and the detailing is simple and harmonious to indicate that nature has regained her balance.
Please support independent shoe designers!
A guest post by Rena Breed from My Favourite Shoes.*
When I first saw photos of Caroline Groves’s shoes, I was very impressed. They are breathtaking, beautifully made and so rich in detail. If I were a shoe designer, these are exactly the kind of shoes I would love to make!
The shoes are custom made by hand in Caroline’s studio in the Cotswolds in the UK. She has built up her own exclusive clientele who can get their heart’s desire with her designs, and her skill has earned her fans among international jet-setters. Of course this exclusivity comes with a price … one that most of us can’t afford: the starting price of the bespoke footwear is 1,800 pounds sterling ($2700). Still, it’s nice to know that after the famous – and already overly expensive – luxury brands, you can still go one step higher.
This video shows the craftsmanship, imagination, passion, and attention to detail that goes into every pair of shoes. The only thing it doesn’t show is the hours of work that goes into creating the design:
Workshop in London
Caroline spends part of the week in her studio on Jermyn Street in Foster & Sons, one of the oldest custom shoemakers in London. It’s here that she meets with her private clients. At the first appointment, she measures their feet and discusses the style of the design as well as the materials to be used.
For the second appointment, Caroline will create a preliminary last and may, if necessary, make any changes. After that she will get to work on the shoes. A third and final appointment may be necessary before the finished shoes are delivered. This process means that each pair of shoes is truly unique.
Caroline’s shoes are fanciful, constructed and finished with the finest leathers, embroidery, and accessorized with details like silver buckles. Her designs reveal her love of vintage styles, which is not surprising since her favorite designer is Salvatore Ferragamo – particularly his designs from the 20s and early 30s.
Caroline gets inspiration from the beautiful patterns of different types of leather such as crocodile, and will travel to Italy or France to choose the best hides. She has also delved into the world of leather processing techniques and experimentation with leather.
Arts and Crafts Movement
Caroline’s family comes from Chipping Campden in the UK and her ancestors were avid followers of Charles Robert Ashbee, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Caroline’s grandfather was a long-time member of this movement and her grandmother was a silversmith.
Caroline started off her career working for a saddler in Gloucestershire where she learned leathercraft techniques. In order to support her two children, she decided to send her resume to a shoemaker and he ended up being her business partner for the next 15 years. He gradually moved toward orthopedic shoemaking, but Caroline had always been more interested in the artistic side of the trade and she decided to concentrate on making bespoke shoes.
If you’re like me, I‘m sure you’re longing for these shoes. If I ever decide to become a shoe designer, I definitely want to intern with Caroline.
To see more of Caroline Groves’s designs, check out her website.
*This is the first of what I hope will be many guest posts by Rena Breed from the Dutch site My Favourite Shoes. Her blog is like a sister site to Lust for Shoes and has amazing articles about shoe designers and the footwear industry in Europe. Most of the articles on her site are in Dutch, so I have translated this one into English. My Dutch is not great, but I did my best to do justice to her fabulous article. Even if you don’t speak Dutch, I’d urge you to check out her website; it’s worth a look for the photos alone.
Sole Sisters is a film project that documents women’s lives through their shoes. Documentary filmmaker Cynthia Salzman Mondell of Media Projects and Executive Producer Erin Prather Stafford are compiling a collection of stories submitted by women from all over the world and they plan to use those stories as the narrative of the film.
Some of these stories are available on the Sole Sisters website, and I was surprised by how compelling they are. Everything is covered here, from adventures in hiking boots to performances in pointe shoes. Many of the themes are about how often a woman’s choice of shoes can reveal hints about her true selves and provide an opportunity to let her style fly a little higher than usual.
With my taste in footwear, of course I loved the stories where shoes serve as acts of defiance against convention: the bride who decided to wear a pair of bright blue shoes with her white wedding dress; the woman who, as a 14 year old, bought a pair of red high heeled pumps in defiance of her mother’s insistence that they weren’t appropriate for her age. These women might follow the rules … but only above the knee.
My favorite story was from a woman in her 50s who had gone through a long debilitating illness and several surgeries. After her extensive recovery, putting on a pair of leopard print pumps trimmed with red suede helped her gain back some lost self esteem in a way nothing else could.
LFS: This is such a great idea for a film. What was the inspiration?
CM: When my Mom was stricken with pancreatic cancer, my sister Ann and I found brand new red high heels in her closet. We told Mom she had to get better so she could dance in those shoes. For a few hours she was lucid and communicated with us. Although cancer eventually claimed her life, those shoes allowed her to dream and to hope. I wondered what it was about those shoes that had the power to give us back our Mother for even a brief time. Then I noticed how much shoes meant to other women. So this is a journey for me. And what I am discovering are deep, emotional stories that unite women from around the world.
LFS: What are you planning to include in the film?
CM: Sole Sisters will dance through women’s lives telling their stories with interviews, animation, and music. The film will journey through the stages of a woman’s life from the unsure wobbly steps in her first pair of baby shoes to a sassy strut in her new red stiletto heels and to her slow shuffle in worn bedroom slippers. Women’s shoes are a symbol of sexuality, empowerment, status and personality. They represent “affordable” art and fashion. They define a woman’s individuality – who she is and who she wants to be.
Erin Prather Stafford , the executive producer for WONDER WOMAN: The Untold Story of American Superheroines is now working with me. She keeps expanding my thinking. This film is definitely going to morph into a play and book. I was taking baby steps, and now we are running with it.
LFS: The stories that are available to read on the Sole Sisters website are full of so many vivid and emotional experiences relating to shoes. Were you surprised by the intensity and variety of the responses you received?
CM: At first I was surprised, but I have produced other female oriented films like The Ladies Room. This is just what the title says—women talking in restrooms. There is a different culture in ladies rooms as you know. Women will say anything because there are no male rules to hold them back. They talk about sex, their bodies and their relationships with complete strangers. So no, I guess I wasn’t surprised. But I am learning how much shoes mean to a woman’s identity.
LFS: There is one story about a woman whose boyfriend gave her a pair of heels for her birthday. He also gave her other gifts – including jewelry – but the fact that he picked out a pair of shoes that were both her size and her style seemed so startlingly intimate and thoughtful. Why do you think heels have such a strong appeal for both women and men?
CM: Women feel powerful and sexy in heels. Men find women in heels sexy. They lengthen the leg and are very attractive.
LFS: Are you one of the shoe obsessed?
CM: Actually, I am not shoe obsessed. I have my own style and never like to wear anything anyone else is wearing. Every day, I go to my closet and look at my clothes and shoes, like I am painting a canvas. And I put on shoes that will make me look like I feel that day. Shoes definitely help my attitude. I love unique looking ones… like with heels that are triangular and easy to walk on. I have a favorite pair of boots that I bought from a woman travelling in an old bus. She was selling boots that she painted to pay for her cancer treatments. These boots mean a lot to me, and I love wearing them.
LFS: There are a number of stories that mention the allure of red shoes, and in fact the Sole Sisters logo is a red high-heeled pump. Why do red shoes seem to hold so much power and do you have any in your closet?
CM: Red is my favorite color. My grandmother had red couches, rugs, artwork, flowers and one pair of red shoes. So I guess I get that from her. Red is a strong color and a happy color. And yes, I have red shoes…red boots and red heels.
LFS: I love the idea of the shoe confessionals, the private booths that you created for the Dallas Museum of Art and a few other locations around the city, for women to record their shoe stories. I’ve read that there were actually waiting lines to use them. Are any of the confessionals still there?
CM: I had this crazy idea for a Shoe Confessional…but actually, I had no idea what a confessional was except what I have seen in the movies. I wanted to collect stories, and I wanted to be part of the DMA’s Jean Paul Gaultier outreach events.
The Shoe Confessional was a spirited community project. Designer Jen Mauldin designed it with a number of people working on it- filmmakers, sound engineers and assorted volunteers. Real Estate businessman Jim Greenfield donated space on Travis Street to build it. We had no money—we recycled the wood shelves in the building we were working in. We even used found nails. It was gratifying how many people worked on it and how many hours they contributed. The booth takes 3 people to put up. So it is really an installation that needs to be in one place for a few days or more. Women and men loved going in there and telling their stories. It is intimate, beautiful and fun. Shelle Bagot Sills, the former VP of Neiman’s went in there with her girlfriends during the Neiman Marcus Stiletto Strut and said it was the best time she had had in a long time. That was the general response. Bringing joy to other women makes me happy.
LFS: Are you still accepting women’s stories on the website?
CM: Yes, Yes. Yes. I would love to hear from other women and girls.
LFS: You are about to start a campaign on the Kickstarter website that will accept donations to help fund the Sole Sisters film, and there will be some wonderful Mother’s Day rewards available for people who contribute. What are some of the things you are offering?
CM: One of the most creative prizes of our Kickstarter is the Special Mother’s Day Card. It was designed by a California artist and it is awesome. Also, the exclusive Home Viewing Party Kit will be a big hit with anyone who is a fan of shoes and fashion.
LFS: When can we expect to see Sole Sisters in our local theater?
CM: In 2014.
You can become a Sole Sister:
To help get this project funded the filmmakers are planning to ask for donations through the project funding site Kickstarter. The Kickstarter campaign will start in the next couple of weeks, and I’ll post the details as soon as they are available. There will be some amazing gifts available to donors, and your contribution will help make this documentary a reality.
D and G’s FW 2013 collection is Byzantine splendor. The most charming theme is the cage heel design filled with flowers. This theme includes platforms, sandals, and pumps with heels both low and high. I hardly ever say this, but I actually think the low-heeled version works the best with this theme.
You can see more of the shoes, and the rest of D & G’s collection here.
Pierre Hardy continues to do amazing things at Balenciaga:
I wanted to take the time to remind us all of just how many incredible shoes have been brought to us by Miuccia Prada in her Miu Miu label. Miu Miu was launched in 1993 and was aimed at a younger, edgier woman. For the past 20 years, the brand has brought us season after season of memorable designs with their boundary-pushing mix of traditional and unconventional. Always luxurious, always beautifully made, and always fun….
So here are the highlights. I’ll go back 5 years and start with the gleaming loveliness of her Fall Winter 2007 collection. The styles are conservative, so it would be easy to miss how audacious these shoes really are. Multicolored patent leather with extensive broguing, they should be unacceptable; but the colors are so well chosen and the play on traditional – almost grandmotherly – styles make the shoes both witty and chic. And that little gathered frill on the shoe on the right…gathering patent leather? Honestly, who does that?! It’s possible only Ms Prada could get away with it.
It’s a little hard to see in the images above, but the heels are covered in stripes of the same leather as the upper. It’s a lovely detail, and shows you the excellent craftsmanship. Patent leather is completely unforgiving to even the tiniest of variations in stitching, but there is none of that here. And of course the broguing is neurotically symmetrical. Awesome.
2008 was all about playful heel silhouettes. The collection for Spring/Summer introduced us to the teacup mary janes, adorable with their baroque curlicues and gold trim. The platform and square-tipped heel give the shoes an element of burlesque that keeps them from being too cutesy.
Miu Miu changed gears for Spring/Summer 2009: the silhouettes were simplified, but the textures were ramped up. Python, lizard, and snakeskin abound, fearlessly mixed, patterned, and colored. The lushness of the materials was balanced by the simplicity of the styles.
Another design 180 happened in the Spring/Summer 2010 collection, and things got a lot more flamboyant. The most recognizable designs from this season were the printed satin platforms.
The bows theme was all grown up in Spring/Summer 2011 and got a job at the Follies Bergere.
The rest of the collection included a variety of lovely shoes that were no less exciting than the booties even though they lacked all the glitter.
And so we arrive at the Spring/Summer 2012 collection, and an overwhelming number of fantastic shoes. I know you shouldn’t pick favorites, but I’m going to, and here they are:
The Witchipoo cowgirl style (my description, that’s probably not how Ms Prada refers to them):
Architect Shahram Azizi has made a series of fast sketch videos and posted them on YouTube. They are all fascinating, but my favorites are, of course, the sketches of shoes. Here is the one he made of Julian Hakes’s Mojito shoe:
United Nude designed by Rem D Koolhaas:
Please support independent shoe designers…and architects who design amazing shoes!
If you love shoes, October 20 – 28 is a great week to be in Eindhoven, because that’s where the Dutch Design Week is being held this year.
Anyone who regularly reads this site knows I can get a little overexcited about Dutch footwear design. For such a small country it has produced a disproportionate amount of incredible shoe designers, and their designs are among the most innovative and exciting in the world.
Watch Our Steps: This is a newcomer to the event, organized by Dutch footwear innovation and education center SLEM. New technologies and sustainable ideas are themes that will be highlighted.
Participating in Watch Our Steps:
Top photo: Giulia Tanini, Polimoda International Institute of Fashion and Design, Italy
Boot w/SLEM logo: Jozefien Vandermarliere, Academy of Fine Arts, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium
Pink and black heel: Deniz Terli, ArtEZ Institute of the Arts, Netherlands
Please support independent shoe designers!