Just six years after starting his self-titled company, 30-year-old British shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood is launching his first stand-alone store on Mayfair’s marvellous Mount Street.
Renowned for his distinctive backwards platform, strong silhouettes and artisanal craftsmanship, Kirkwood has created shoes for Rodarte, Erdem and Peter Pilotto and has become a firm favourite of fierce fashionistas like Grace Jones, André Leon Talley and SJP (who once rocked the same style on three different occasions in three days). But as well as all those strong, structural styles, the shop will also be showcasing the lower heel heights, casual daywear and double thick leather stacked soles from his S/S 11 collection. i-D Online caught-up with the charming chap, and as well as finding out that he hates sneakers with heels (even stack-heeled Kickers, Nicholas?) learnt more about his time at Philip Treacy, his love for Alaïa and his new thigh-high Swarovski boots.
You worked for milliner Philip Treacy for five years, so how and why did you end up getting into shoes? When I worked at Philip’s, women would come in wearing the designers that were coming up at that time, such as McQueen and Chalayan, to be fitted for hats by Philip. The clothing and hats were inspiring, but the shoes that the women were wearing paled in comparison: often pointy-toe kitten heel mules or vintage looking shoes. It just didn’t make sense and I thought it was an opportunity to do something in shoes that hadn’t been done, to approach it in a more modern way.
Tell us about the shoes in your latest collection… This season we used some engineered fabric – satin fused with suede or velvet, which was quite interesting. We are also working on a capsule collection with the Keith Haring Foundation – one particular thigh-high boot is completely covered in Swarovski crystals, which looks absolutely amazing and crazy.
Who are your inspirations as a designer? I admire Azzedine Alaïa for his unrelenting vision and approach to craft and quality, as well as both Andre Perugia and Roger Vivier as shoe designers because they were innovative in their approach. I am humbled by all of their work.
What is your shoe philosophy? I think it’s always important for women to wear the shoes not the shoes to wear them.
Nicholas Kirkwood’s first store opens at 5 Mount Street on 13th May.