Uber-talented Danish shoe designer Camilla Skovgaard is rarely in New York. Her nearly five-year-old eponymous label is based out of London, she produces in China, sources materials from Italy, and has an office in Dubai. But she touched down in New York this past week and we caught up with her at the Elizabeth Charles boutique in the West Village where she previewed her spring collection.
So what's new for spring? Well I'm terrified of pastel colors because I don't want to be seen as some bubble gum type but I was in the Mediterranean this summer and I noticed it is quite fresh--all the palm trees and lemon trees and the blue sea. It is a bit heavy to use dark colors for spring, so I hope I still bring a little bit of an edge with this collection.
Pastels are out of character for you. Anything else new you're planning on trying? For autumn 2011/12 I'll probably be working on a mid-heel but it's difficult for me. Honestly I don't see many women who look good in a mid heel--either it's flat or it's stiletto height. I'm experimenting with it but it breaks my heart. When i see some of the prototypes I'm like 'Oh god.' So we'll see--I'm working on it.
You collaborated with Matthew Williamson for three years. Any plans for collaborations in the future? I get quite a lot of requests for collaborations but I've said no to basically everything. I just don't want other people's problems. There was an A-list Paris fashion house that contacted me last week and I met them and it went well but I didn't think I could make the commitment it required and I didn't even think the money was that good. But touch wood. You never know with this business. I don't trust the fashion industry at all.
Would you ever consider designing anything other than shoes? I might be interested in a collaboration for furniture. It doesn't have to be shoes. I'm keen on furniture because Denmark has such a long tradition of furniture, but bloody hell the prototypes are so big. You can't carry them around. But furniture design is something I feel more. Some people say, 'Why don't you do handbags and I'm like, no, I want to do a chair!"
You got your start designing clothing for the Sheikh's wives and daughters in Dubai. How on earth did you get that job? It was very strange. I was 20 and just back home in Denmark from a tailoring course in London. My mom had the paper out because she was looking for a job for my brother and there was an advertisement in the newspaper to come to Dubai to design. No one had heard of Dubai then--it wasn't the tourist destination it is now. You had to be 25 but I typed out my letter anyway (there weren't computers everywhere then) and said 'I'm a student would you consider taking me down for training?' They [a French company--she wouldn't say which one] called me in and I clicked with the women right away. They flew me down and I got along very well with the ladies and I was very quick at sketching and I think she was smart in taking someone so young because she could mold me. I was only meant to say for a year but I came straight in with the local women for their engagements and weddings and childbirths so it gave me a lot more of a personal angle into the country and I think that's why i ended up staying seven years.
But you designed clothes for the Sheikh's wives and daughters--not shoes, right? That's when I first started paying attention to shoes because these women spent huge amounts of money on handmade clothes and then the shoes were like an afterthought. The shoes were not very good. oh no. They were all platforms because they want to be taller. And I like platforms but we're talking bad platforms. They think that because everything is full length and their dresses go down to the floor no one will see, but when you're sitting down and you walk on those wedding stages it's terrible.
Click through for some highlights from Camilla Skovgaard's spring collection.