Archive Revisited: Estelle

I am often asked where and when inspiration strikes, and what compels me to design the shoes I make. Having designed shoes for over 20 years the truth is my archive is often the place I first look for ideas. Because the pace of fashion never lets up, some ideas get lost in the cycle of the seasons and the unquenchable thirst for ‘newness’. Some ideas may be a bit ahead of their time and some need more than their allotted season to take hold. The least commercially successful styles often prove the most inspiring.

I’ve decided to launch an occasional series of Instagram posts that revisit some of my favourite shoes, classics and overlooked gems. Tell the story behind them, their inspiration, who wore them and what I learnt. First up is Estelle from S/S 2010.

This idea flowed out of me. The shoe is so simple. Originally I made it from a single piece of satin. The patten was meant to communicate through what was not there more than what was there. The lines were evocative of leaves which when wrapped around the foot looked more like a mask. They almost work like a Little Black Dress for the foot. Because the design is all about the lines and what isn’t there, I wanted to do something interesting with them.

Kate Moss wearing Estelle

Some years earlier I had made shoes for the venerable London label Jean Muir. She had died a decade before I was invited to design shoes for them and the collections were a lavish reissue of her work, much of which was based on a few recurring details. One of them was a spidery frayed silk neckline. I wanted to recreate this on a shoe. By double facing the satin I was able to set the stitching in a little, make a feature of it by making it bigger and hand fraying the raw edges of the satin. By putting a zip at the back it allowed the front to be completely clear of any fixtures or closures further making them work and hang like a dress.

Estelle in Black Calf

I eventually made it in a number of different materials including black calf which gave them an even more gothic feel. I am proud to say it was one of the shoes chosen to be displayed in the 2015 V&A shoe exhibition. Museum number T.11:1, 2-2015!

Estelle in Burgundy Calf at the V&A Museum