Nicholas Kirkwood Designs With Tea and Cigarettes, No Mood Boards Please!

On Friday evening, Nicholas Kirkwood celebrated the opening of his first US store with a trove of glitterati friends, and of course, some seriously incredible shoes. While Voguettes swanned in one corner, young designers chatted in the other, all waiting their chance to receive Kirkwood, who acted the part of the gentlemanly host—even helping up a guest who had taken a fall in the store’s garden. “I just got off an airplane from Copenhagen, and I came straight here for Nicholas," Derek Blasberg told us. "Every time I see him I tell him to do some men’s, I can’t quite shove my hooves in these.”
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On Friday evening, Nicholas Kirkwood celebrated the opening of his first US store with a trove of glitterati friends, and of course, some seriously incredible shoes. While Voguettes swanned in one corner, young designers chatted in the other, all waiting their chance to receive Kirkwood, who acted the part of the gentlemanly host—even helping up a guest who had taken a fall in the store’s garden. “I just got off an airplane from Copenhagen, and I came straight here for Nicholas," Derek Blasberg told us. "Every time I see him I tell him to do some men’s, I can’t quite shove my hooves in these.”
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On Friday evening, Nicholas Kirkwood celebrated the opening of his first US store with a trove of glitterati friends, and of course, some seriously incredible shoes. While Voguettes swanned in one corner, young designers chatted in the other, all waiting their chance to receive Kirkwood, who acted the part of the gentlemanly host—even helping up a guest who had taken a fall in the store’s garden.

“I just got off an airplane from Copenhagen, and I came straight here for Nicholas," Derek Blasberg told us. "Every time I see him I tell him to do some men’s, I can’t quite shove my hooves in these.” Nearby, Prabal Gurung was equally as effusive, saying, “I think he is one of the most talented shoe designers out there, and whether he is designing for his own collection or collaborating on another designer’s collection, he always has a unique identity.”

As guests shuffled in and out, Kirkwood greeted each one with his boyish smile. The store—located in New York’s Meatpacking District—will be a home to all of his fantastical designs, including some that he created in collaboration with fellow Brits like Peter Pilotto and Erdem. There’s an outside garden too, which is where we sat down with Kirkwood to discuss things like his newfound respect for bows.

Fashionista: Tell us a little bit about how you are feeling right now. How does it feel to open a store in the US? Nicholas Kirkwood: It’s a big step for us—we have a store in London but it’s attached to our studio, so this is kind of the first time that it’s out there on its own. Just having a store, we’re able to create an environment for the shoes in a way that people can really see everything together.

Fashionista: I know it’s kind of difficult to self-reflect, but what do you think you do differently from other shoe designers? Oh god, I don’t want this to come out wrong…I think I try to offer something that has a different point of view, even when it comes down to a basic pump, you know, I’ll look at the heel or something. I studied fine art at St. Martins so I think I just apply that to my designs. I try to find new lines across the feet and I never reference any vintage or anything—I don’t even have a mood board.

Fashionista: You don’t use a mood board? How do you design without one? Literally a pad of paper, a big cup of tea and a cigarette. I’ll just start doodling—really trying to create shapes and then they kind of evolve until you create something that you find interesting and want to incorporate into the collection.

One of Kirkwood's fall shoes with a bow at the heel

One of Kirkwood's fall shoes with a bow at the heel

Fashionista: It seems you’ve been using a lot of bows lately, which is sort of the opposite of what people expect from you. It’s funny, half the reason I wanted to go into shoes was because at the time, around 2000, there were a lot of boring shoes with little kitten heels and bows on the top—it was everything that I hated, and I was sort of like, ‘I never want to do a bow.’ Then I got bored of these viscious looking shoes; I wanted to go in the completely opposite direction and do the most feminine thing—feminine but not girly.