How Couture Shoe Designer Thom Solo First Caught The Eye Of Lady Gaga

Paris may have Christian Louboutin; but Boston has couture shoe designer Thom Solo, who is proud to call the city home (and so are we).

Since the avant-garde craftsman’s haute creations first caught the eye of Lady Gaga, his edgy 10-inch boots and stacked platforms have been spotted on everyone from Kylie Jenner and Carrie Underwood to Katy Perry and Britney Spears. It’s not just about fashioning a ‘wow factor’ when it comes to the sculptural couture shoe designer’s jaw-dropping footwear, but Solo always keeps comfort at the forefront of every creation.

We caught up last week with the women’s footwear designer to discuss the “Gender Bending Fashion” exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts (running now through August 25), where he draws inspiration for his next creations and when we can expect to see his boutique shop open on Newbury Street.

Photo Credit: Anthony Grassetti

When did you first become interested in designing women’s footwear?

I always had a love for design and fashion, but wanted to go to school to get a degree in fine art. In 2009, I was taking “Sculpture 101” and there was a black and white image I saw of Alexander McQueen‘s Armadillo heels in Time magazine. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw it that. I knew then it was something I wanted to pursue.

How did your designs catch the eye of Lady Gaga and so many other celebrities?

I think it’s because I am not just creating a pair of shoes. Every pair tells a story. It’s all very cohesive. Yes, they are wearable, but I want each one to have special meaning behind it.

Photo Credit:Anthony Grassetti

Your shoes are truly works of art. How much time does it take from start to finish creating a pair?

It really depends on the design. I like to say two to three weeks at a minimum, but it could take four to six.

Where can we buy a pair?

That’s the thing we are working the whole brand toward. You only get one shot at it though so we want to do it right. We are talking to a lot of amazing people about entering e-commerce and are getting closer and closer. I am hoping by 2020 or 2021, we will have something up and running. It would be a dream to have a shop on Newbury Street simultaneous with the e-commerce launch. I don’t know which will come first, it’s a chicken or the egg type thing. I want to let people have their imaginations soar and would love to do that with a concept fashion store.

Photo Credit: Thom Solo

Who are some of your favorite designers who have inspired you along the way?

Of course, Alexander McQueen has been such a huge inspiration marrying dark fantasy with beautifully tailored designs, fabrics and details. For more modern day, less fantasy and more everyday, I would say Dior and Yves Saint Laurent.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your next designs?

I am very music driven. A particular track usually finds me and I listen to it on repeat. It helps me build this fantasy version of a woman who will be the heroine of the collection.

Photo Credit: Thom Solo

You went to school at the School of Museum of Fine Arts. Is it a dream come true to have your own collection there now?

Yeah, it definitely is. It was really a full circle moment.

Who would you like to design for?

For sure, Adele, but she said she is no longer doing concerts anymore because of her anxiety, but I would love to design for Adele. One of the most coveted women who I would also love to design for is Beyonce. I am hoping to finalize something with her. I’d also love to do J. Lo. Those would be my top three celebrities.

Photo Credit: Thom Solo

Which shoe are you most proud of?

The Lady Dahlia thigh high. It has changed and transcended over the years and is something that is the most requested. (Note: The Dahlia boot is also on display in the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental, Boston now through August 25).

Tell us a little about your collection, which includes a pair of Lady Gaga’s shoes, currently on display at the “Gender Bending Fashion” exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts.

It’s different pieces from different collections. There is a Waterhouse boot with a fish hook for a heel that is one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes although it looks lethal. I’m a big feminist and hyper aware I am designing for women. I work orthopedics into all of our soles. That’s something I am really proud of. There is also an Ella Maryjane floating platform from the Contes de Fées collection with a 3D crystal heel that is a modern take on Cinderella. I also have a Black Dahlia from the Suburban Bloodbath collection. I love painting a strong heroine for each collection. There is nothing more amazing than to see women in music who have the power to emote so much and have every moment looked at. Sexism is all too real and needs to be shut down. It really needs to be turned into a conversation as much as possible.