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Some prefer to spend their mornings reading the Times, practicing their sun salutation, or, well, sleeping in. But in lieu of the snooze button yesterday, we spent our morning with the talented and award-winning U.K. design star Nicholas Kirkwood. Along with American Express, Kirkwood greeted guests (and eager shoppers) and walked through his spring '13 collection at one of our favorite NYC playgrounds — the recently revamped Saks shoe department.
While Kirkwood's imaginative designs far exceeded the average sole, we simply had to find out where he puts his foot down. And, as it turns out, if you're waiting for the arrival of an architectural, avant-garde sneaker heel for fall '13, don't hold your breath. Kirkwood will do sky-high works of shoe art, but "gimmicky" he is not. Read on for the full account from the designer himself.
What do you think makes women so obsessed with your shoes?
"I think a person who comes to see my shoes or to buy something from me is looking for something that's a bit different and unexpected but still really appreciates craftsmanship and something inventive. [Pause] I don't know why, but I'm happy that they do!"
You're so experimental in your designs, is there something you would never do?
"Oh, yeah, probably. I would probably never do a high-heel sneaker. I don't think I will ever do that."
Are you not a fan of the sneaker wedge?
"I don't mind it, but a sneaker on a skinny heel or hiking boots on a stiletto, that type of thing…like a classic flat shoe that's been done in a high heel, it's a bit too gimmicky for me."
Do you remember the first shoe you obsessed over?
"There wasn't necessarily one particular shoe, but when I was working at Philip Treacy, Isabella Blow would come in every day with her Manolos. And I could see the beauty of them and I would be working every day with the incredible jewel colors. So, that was the start into my obsession with shoes, between working at Philip's and being surrounded by a world of beautiful hats to seeing those shoes."
You have plans to launch a men's collection, as well...
"I just launched it, but it hasn't hit stores yet. It will hit stores around June/July, so I'm really looking forward to that."
How will the men's line work in relation to your women's shoes? How do you think men want to start experimenting with their footwear?
"Men traditionally have been really boring with their footwear. It's black or it's brown or really ugly sneakers. But I think it's becoming more innovative now. Even guys are becoming a little bit more experimental with their footwear. That might be partly due to sneakers, having wild things and now seeing interesting kind of colors on even the traditional lace-up shoes, and now it doesn't seem so out there in a way. I think there's still a lot of scope to grow with and move within men's shoes."
As a U.K. designer whose shoes are so well-loved in the States and all over the globe, what do you think makes your aesthetic mass appealing to so many women?
"The London girl is essentially quite eclectic and loves to mix up high fashion with high-street vintage, and maybe other fashion capitals stick to rules more. So, it's a great place for all that kind of creativity, the spirit of working with what you've got. That's what I love about London style, and it's a great city to be inspired by."
Photo: Courtesy of American Express