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Julian Louie x Aldo

Based on the story of 'The Hyena & Other Men', the architectural designer talks about his new collaboration with the shoe brand

The story behind the shoe collection from Julian Louie for Aldo follows the narrative behind Louie's S/S11 collection, taking its cue from the book 'The Hyena & Other Men'. Photographed by Pieter Hugo, the images are an intriguing collection of a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. Based on the tradition passed over from generation to generation where the animals are used for entertainment and to sell traditional medicines, the tactile mix of texture and fabrics in the shoes reflects the overwhelming spectacle of these performers and the objects of their craft. Louie's interest in the marred relation between the urban and the wild shows through the sometimes doting, sometimes brute designs that are reflexive of this paradoxical relationship. 

Dazed Digital: The collection plays with collage, what inspires you to mix prints?
Julian Louie: Collage is hugely important to me, and comes out in my work every season, both physically and conceptually. I had never really played with print on this scale before, and wanted the shoes to really make a strong statement. The prints are fragmented and patchworked but the shape of the shoe itself is very monolithic and graphic, which I think is an important contrast. 

DD: How did you come across 'The Hyena & Other Men' book that formed the basis of the collection?
Julian Louie: I kept seeing the book in stores for years, but never bought it. When I started thinking about Spring/Summer 2011 I remembered it, and it became the starting point for the whole collection. 

DD: Your clothes are subtle yet the shoes are bold, do you approach dressing women with this dichotomy?
Julian Louie: Tension is very important in my work. I am very drawn to the combination of opposing elements. For spring, I wanted to have a very intricate and strong shoe as a base for the ease and quietness of the clothes. I think the whole notion of juxtaposition is essential: opulence and austerity, romanticism and athleticism, subtlety and boldness. 

DD: You studied architecture before switching to Fashion, what drew you to fashion?
Julian Louie: I was drawn to the immediacy of fashion, the speed and energy of it. In architecture school we were trained to be hyper rational and logical, which is something i value very much, but I found that I wanted to work in a more instinctual and emotional way. Fashion allowed me to do that, to do things purely for beauty's sake, which ultimately is the goal. 

DD: How would you like the shoes to be worn?
Julian Louie: I would never want to dictate how they should be worn. I think that anyone who loves them will wear them in a way that is perfect for their own style. They are actually quite versatile shoes, despite the severity of the structure and design. 

DD: Favourite piece from the collection?
Julian Louie: The shoes are truly my favorite part of the collection. As far as ready-to-wear is concerned, I would say the tassel dress and skirt are my favorites. It's so odd to have Mylar tassels on a piece of clothing, but I kind of love it. 

Julian Louie's capsule collection for Aldo - debuted at New York Fashion Week in September - will be available from April 2011