These shoes are more than unconventional and a huge hit on the catwalk.
When you design amazing catwalk shoes for the likes of Ghost, John Rocha, Erdem, Rodarte and Pollini, and you were a finalist for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund Award in 2010, you know you’re going places. Nicholas Kirkwood is moving up fast in the world of shoes with his exquisite and high fashion designs.
He was born in Munster, Germany in 1980 and at 18 years old did the Fine Art foundation course at Central Saint Martins. A year later he was offered a job in milliner Phillip Treacy’s store in London where he worked for five years after they met by chance on a skiing trip to Closters in 1999. During that time, Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan were making big statement designs in clothes and Treacy in hat designs, but Kirkwood felt there was a gap in the market for couture shoes. So, he enrolled at Cordwainers in 2001. After just one year he dropped out because he learned enough about “footwear making” and continued to work full time with Philip Treacy.
What sets apart Nicholas Kirkwood from other shoe designers is the craftsmanship of his designs and the way he implements all kinds of materials, including python, shaved stingray, laser-cut mirror leather, cobra, and devore satin. In 2005, Kirkwood made the runway shoes for Ghost and John Rocha in order to raise money to produce his own collection. In April 2005, he took his shoe collection to New York to show to the fashion press. Fate brought Kirkwood to meet Visionaire’s Cecilia Dean, who was inherent in setting up Kirkwood with Rodarte, whom he has been creating show shoes for since 2009.
For Kirkwood, the awards haven’t stopped rolling in since 2006, where he earned the Conde Nast Footwear News Vivan Infantino award for emerging talent. In 2007, he won the Alta Roma/Vogue Italia award for accessories design, as well as acclamations from American Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley (editor-at-large) and Vogue Italia’s Franca Sozzani (editor-in-chief) for his knockout spring/summer 2008 collection. In November 2008, Kirkwood won the Swarovski Emerging Talent for Accessories prize followed by the Footwear Designer of the Year award by Conde Nast’s Footwear News publication a month later.
In March 2008 he was appointed the esteemed role of accessories designer at Pollini, and about a year later opened his first standalone space at London’s Dover Street Market. He created a collection of co-designed and co-branded shoes with Erdem for autumn/winter 2011 and will launch a Nicholas Kirkwood space at On Pedder Joyce in Hong Kong.
How does he even begin to come up with such designs that earn him so many awards and so much success as these? In an interview Zimbio, he responds with “literally the desk pad of paper, the large crater of tea as well as the cigarette. I’ll only begin doodling- unequivocally perplexing to emanate shapes as well as afterwards they kind of develop until we emanate something which we find engaging as well as wish to soak up in the collection.”