Nicholas Kirkwood on Inspiration and His New Collection: An Exclusive Interview

There are few names guaranteed to whip a crowd of fashionistas into a frenzy the way Nicholas Kirkwood’s name does. The London-based shoe designer has inspired a cult following of his eponymous collection, a favorite amongst industry insiders and celebrities. Kirkwood’s creations are instantly recognizable for their architectural design; footwear that could easily double for art. Recently, Kirkwood held a preview of the upcoming Spring 2013 collection at his Meatpacking district boutique in New York City, where Haute Fashion Daily had the opportunity to chat with the designer. Kirkwood described the inspiration behind his incredible new collection and gave us a peek into his rise to fame.

Kirkwood, 32, began his career studying at London’s famed Central Saint Martins. Shortly after graduating, Kirkwood began working for Philip Treacy, the Irish milliner whose hats have featured in nearly every major runway show in haute couture. Kirkwood spent five years at Treacy’s London boutique, an experience which afforded the designer with a grounded perspective. In 2006, after returning to school at Cordwainers at the London College of Fashion, Kirkwood unveiled his first collection. Within the year, Kirkwood was awarded Condé Nast’s Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award.

Despite the critical acclaim the designer has garnered since (including Condé Nast’s prestigious Footwear Designer of the Year award), Kirkwood eschews the dramatic behaviour associated with so many designers. “I think as long as you’ve got your vision about where you want to be, shouting and throwing shoes across the room doesn’t get you there faster. You never know who you’re going to see on the way down, you know? I’ve been an intern…you remember who was an asshole to you. Being polite gets you there just as fast.”

It sounds like good advice. Demand for Kirkwood’s talent has exploded; not only does he produce his own collection, he also collaborates with clothing designers like Rodarte, Erdem Moralioğlu and Peter Pilotto. Kirkwood modestly described the drive behind his ever-increasing popularity; “I have itchy feet. If I feel like I’m not doing enough, I just have to fill up and do even more. It’s about looking, evolving, seeing what you find that’s new and fun to you, trying new techniques, new categories.”

New is one of Kirkwood’s watchwords; every season is fresh, every shoe original. The Spring 2013 collection is one of his strongest yet, evoking the glamor of a sun-drenched seaside. Kirkwood explained his inspiration; “It’s about looking at the different ways to use the wave, and incorporating the wave into the shoe.” Cascading waves feature throughout the collection, appearing variously in the metalwork of the heels, as toe caps or gracing the body of the shoe. The theme is both graphic yet understated, resulting in a collection which is at once completely unique and completely wearable. Dotted amongst the sky-high stilettos was that most elusive of fashion finds; the stylish yet comfortable heel. This season the designer gave us a stacked mid-heel and a kitten heel, both resounding nicely within the fashion industry’s move towards ladylike heels.

For more on Kirkwood’s plans for the future, including an e-commerce site, the celebrity he’d choose to wear his shoes and more exclusive photos from his Spring 2013 collection, check out the post on Haute Fashion Daily