I accidentally bought four pairs of Nicholas Kirkwood shoes at his sample sale yesterday morning. (That’s what happens when you go shoe shopping at 8am on an empty stomach.) I’ve always admired – and worn – his shoes. Ever since I met him in the days when he was working for Philip Treacy, and planning to go it alone, well before I departed for America in 2007, he’s been absolutely passionate & single-minded about his vision for his label. (As well as being thoroughly lovely.)
I think I was the first fashion editor to shoot his shoes as a front of book full page still life – for The Observer’s O: mag in spring 2006, published by Tank, and I wanted them there because they were so architecturally beautiful, so rigorous, so precise. At the time, there wasn’t the proliferation of independent shoe designers that there is now, and he stood out by a mile from what everyone else was doing back then.
I tried hard to shoot his shoes when I was on American fashion magazine, but he had no representation in the US back then, much to my chagrin, so I had to content myself with admiring from afar. Since then, his ascent has been stratospheric: Instead of the tiny studio I visited down a narrow alley allegedly once frequented by Jack the Ripper in Whitechapel, he now inhabits a studio by his store in Mayfair’s Mount Street, has a shop in New York, and is stocked worldwide. He collaborates with the designers that count, from Rodarte to Erdem, and his aesthetic is still uncompromisingly his own.
From a personal point of view, I like his shoes not just for their looks, but because I am staggeringly clumsy and have very narrow feet, with high insteps and tiny ankles, so I can’t wear court shoes or slingbacks. There is always a shoe or ankle boot in his collection that I can strap on securely and know I will stay upright in them.
So that’s why I bought, erm, four pairs in the sample sale yesterday. Two for now, and two for the summer, or when I travel to warmer climes. (The top three pairs are from the SS11 collection.)
One of the things I really like about sample sales is picking up unique pieces. In this case, I snagged these production samples from two years ago, and now have the only pair.
And, yes, my lovely Australian readers, you can buy Nicholas Kirkwood’s shoes down under. (I get a slew of Antipodean emails when I write about beautiful things from the northern hemisphere, so just pre-empting the question.)
All stockist details over at NicholasKirkwood.com