After establishing his namesake footwear label in 2005, designer Nicholas Kirkwood has been much feted. His awards include the British Fashion Award for Best Accessory Designer of the Year (three times), Footwear News Designer of the Year (two times) and the AltaRoma/Vogue Italia award for accessory design. The Central Saint Martins and Cordwainers College graduate has established a signature style that merges architectural design with functionality. Fans include Sarah Jessica Parker, Rooney Mara, and Solange Knowles. "I love seeing strong, confident yet feminine women wearing my shoes – women like Grace Jones or Cecilia Dean,” says Kirkwood.
Kirkwood’s success has allowed him to collaborate with both established and emerging ready-to-wear designers including Roksanda, Peter Pilotto, Rodarte, Suno, Fendi and Erdem, to name a few. "Usually, the process begins with the designer coming to me with an idea or sketch," says Kirkwood. "From there we will work together to design and create a shoe that represents us both and works organically with their collection.”
Nicholas Kirkwood for Matches Fashion
It wasn’t a surprise then when Kirkwood opened the doors to his Mount Street flagship store, which sits alongside many of his collaborators' boutiques. "Opening the Mount Street store is still one of the biggest highlights of my career,” says Kirkwood. "Designing the store myself was an amazing chance to show my collection in an environment that I had always envisaged."
Nicholas Kirkwood for Peter Pilotto
In 2013, Kirkwood announced his partnership with luxury conglomerate LVMH after meeting with Delphine Arnault and Pierre-Yves Rousse. "Partnering up with LVMH has been unbelievable, they are a support network and it has opened up opportunities on a global scale,” says Kirkwood. "You get to learn the best practices from other brands and I've been lucky enough to work with the most creative and innovative people.” Are there certain designers that Kirkwood himself looks up to? "I admire Azzedine Alaia for his unrelenting vision and approach to craft and quality, as well as both Andre Perugia, and Roger Vivier as shoe designers who were innovative in their approach. I am humbled by all of their work."
Nicholas Kirkwood for Erdem
The beauty of Kirkwood’s designs is that there is something for every customer. His trademark touches include curvilinear lines, unexpected materials and juxtapositioning the unconventional with the classic, a result of working with the milliner Philip Treacy for five years. For his SS17 collection, Kirkwood combined natural elements with graphic components. "The starting point came from my trip to the desert in Arizona, looking at the vast and dramatic landscapes whilst also drawing inspiration from my favourite artists Dan Flavin, James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson,” Kirkwood tells us.
Nicholas Kirkwood SS15
So, what’s next for Kirkwood? “My flagship store 5 Mount Street is being renovated, my website is being relaunched and I am currently working on a really exciting collaboration that isn’t shoes for next year so watch this space!”
We caught up with the footwear designer to see what he has planned for this week.
Monday: Nicholas Kirkwood (5 Mount St, Mayfair, W1K 3NE)
This week my flagship store 5 Mount St re-opens its doors after a full redesign in association with spatial designer, Robert Storey, who I’ve collaborated with for many years. The new marble and Wenge wood parquet floor incorporates my iconic chevron - a key brand insignia.
Tuesday: Quilombero (Republic, Ground Floor, 2 Clove Crescent, E14 2BE)
Tonight it is my friend’s birthday so we are going out for dinner. One of my favourite restaurants used to be Rita’s in Hackney and I can’t wait to try out their new restaurant Quilombero which has just opened, you can’t go wrong with Italian and Argentine food!
Wednesday: Belle Parti (Via Belle Parti, 11, 35139 Padova, Italy)
Today is going to be a busy day as I’m going to Italy to visit our factory Rossimoda in Padua. I have back to back meetings all day looking at the new samples for Autumn Winter 2017. After that, I’ll end my day at my favourite restaurant called Belle Parti where they do the best scallop and prawn pasta dish.
Thursday: Paper Mache Tiger Store (26 Cross Street, N1 2BG)
I’m going to go and check out a new store in Islington called Paper Mache Tiger, a fashion agency with multi-brand showrooms across major cities. I’m really looking forward to it as I have heard great things. I love the Conservatory Archives store in Hackney, who they are selling, so I’m going to choose some interesting new plants for the studio and a giant banana plant for the newly refitted store.
Friday: David Bowie Exhibition (34-35 New Bond Street, W1A 2AA)
I’m going to see David Bowie’s personal collection of art at Sotheby’s, ahead of its auction. Bowie has always been an inspiration to me, so much so that I named a style from my SS17 collection after him, the Ziggy.
Nicholas Kirkwood is available at 5 Mount St, Mayfair, W1K 3NE.