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Running in Art Nouveau Heels

Footwear designer Kerrie Luft combines in her creations ornament and construction, drawing from Art Nouveau’s dynamic natural motifs.

There is dynamism, a high degree of abstraction and a reconciliation between architecture, technology and nature in Kerrie Luft’s footwear. Inspired by Art Nouveau, Luft’s shoes display a peculiar fascination with movement and at times recall in their elaborate yet delicate heels the work of French architect Hector Guimard or the furniture of interior designer and decorator Eugène Gaillard.
The organically derived curves, free flowing wrought iron swirls and undulating plant-like forms that characterise the heels of Luft’s “Saffron”, “Stella” and “Alaia” shoes are sometimes soft and sinuous or abruptly end in sharp-edged spikes and bone-like structures, perfectly blending together decorative, elegant and functional elements. 

Dazed Digital: What inspired you to study footwear design?
Kerrie Luft: I was first introduced to footwear design whilst studying for my BA in Fashion Design at University College Northampton. During my second year they introduced a new pathway of Footwear and Accessories and I decided to follow it. Northampton was a great place to study footwear as it is famously known for its once thriving footwear industry. They still have some old factories there and the most wonderful Shoe Museum. I spent many days drawing from the archives at the Shoe Museum and it was there that my passion for footwear developed. During my BA I undertook work placements at Lulu Guinness and Patrick Cox and this gave me an insight into luxury footwear. After graduating from Northampton I moved to London and worked in the industry to gain some commercial experience before returning back to University to complete a Masters in Fashion Footwear Design at Cordwainers, London College of Fashion. It was during my MA that I really began to develop my own style and created my first collection. I’m currently gaining a bit more industry experience and working on a business plan before launching my own label. I’ve entered a few competitions and I was a finalist in this year Fashion Fringe Accessories and Drapers Footwear Awards.

DD: Some of your creations seem to have an architectural edge you: does this discipline inspire you?
Kerrie Luft: I’m often inspired by nature and the way things naturally evolve and grow which in turn has allowed me to realise the way in which nature has influenced everything from architecture to sculpture to furniture to fashion. Seeing the curves of a flower captured in the lines of a building or a lamppost fascinates me. I’ve recently been experimenting with a new form of technology called Rapid Prototyping that has allowed me to draw on nature and re-define the curves and lines of my heel designs. The theme for my latest collection actually grew from a trip to Paris where I was inspired by all the beautiful architecture and the way in which cast iron was twisted into elegant curves, decorating everything from staircases to entrances to the metro. I loved the beauty of the Art Nouveau architecture in Paris and wanted to capture it in my collection.

DD: What kind of woman did you have in mind when you designed your latest collection? 

Kerrie Luft: To be honest when designing this collection I thought about all the things that I find appealing and attractive about a shoe such as elegant curves, a delicate colour palette and an interesting heel. So, whilst running the risk of sounding self-indulgent, the woman in mind was myself!

DD: What’s your favourite pair of shoes you created?
Kerrie Luft: It would have to be the pale pink, leather shoe boots from my MA collection which feature cut-outs and a cream lily shaped heel. They are very feminine and elegant.

DD: Who is your favourite footwear designer and if you could do an interview for a fashion magazine with a famous shoe designer, who would you choose?
Kerrie Luft: Charles Jourdan is my favourite designer. His shoes were so elegant and remain timeless classics. I often come across them in vintage stores and they are instantly recognisable. However, currently, I really like the direction taken by the footwear designer Nicholas Kirkwood. He is really pushing the boundaries in footwear design and his collections show architectural footwear innovation. I’m excited to see what he does next. I would like to interview Manolo Blahnik. I’ve read all his books and he seems to have such an eccentric personality. I think he would be fascinating to interview. He is a true master of his craft and someone I have great admiration for.

DD: Will your shoes to be featured on any catwalks at the next London Fashion Week or is there one fashion designer you’d like to design shoes for? 
Kerrie Luft: I’ve had to turn down several offers to feature in the next London Fashion Week as I am working on developing further designs in my next collection and making them more wearable. I would love to design shoes for Christopher Kane as his collections are always so innovative and unique. There are many fashion designers that I admire and would like to have the opportunity to collaborate with, such as Rodarte as I love the sense of romance and femininity their collections always reflect.

DD: What is the nicest comment you have ever received about your work so far?
Kerrie Luft: Being a massive “Sex and the City” fan I thought this comment was nice: “Kerrie’s sublimely elegant collection of footwear was inspired by the sinuous lines and elegant curves of Art Nouveau and the results will have any would be Carrie Bradshaw enraptured”.

DD: What are your future plans and ambitions for your label?
Kerrie Luft: As first thing I would like to finish my next collection and launch my own label. I would then like to take it to Première Classe in Paris and hopefully gain some stockists. At the moment I’m still in the early stages of development.