Last month I had the absolute pleasure of being contacted by Isabella Mamas from Vogue Australia - asking if I'd be interested in making footwear for Nicol & Ford's debut runway! As you can imagine, this was SUPER EXCITING and an amazing opportunity that I said YES to.
Nicol & Ford's designers, Timothy Nicol-Ford and Katie-Louise Ford put forth a strong vision for the debut runway collection, "La Pouffe" ~
"Nicol & Ford La Pouffe Collection 2022 explores the life of French-born Mexican multimillionaire Carlos de Beistegui (1895-1970). A key patron of the surrealist movement, lavish party-thrower and owner of extravagant homes across the globe, de Beistegui was publicly a life-long bachelor causing much social speculation as to his sexuality.
Nicol & Ford’s collection specifically examines the 136 Champs Elysees, Paris, where de Beistegui commissioned the now famous father of modernist architecture Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, to create a clean white cube penthouse above historic Parisian architecture. Photographed by Le Corbusier as an empty, pristine space typifying the ideals of modernist architecture, upon handover Carlos de Beistegui and his trusted advisor, the Cuban interior designer Emilio Terry lavishly furnished blank white rooms with overwrought and overstuffed French Rococo antique furniture.
Ultimately creating a rift between architect and patron, de Beistegui’s extravagant additions to the penthouse exemplify the ability of queer aesthetics to interrupt the cold, clinical, modernist vision.
Focussed on re-writing history via a contemporary fashion lens, each Nicol & Ford collection reverses queer erasure, unearthing figures from the past to celebrate their creative ingenuity and leadership."
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With this vision and brief front and centre, and a huge box of vintage upholstery fabric and trims that I recieved - I set out on a mega making mission. From time of project confirmation I had exactly TWO WEEKS to have 20 pairs of shoes ready, 16 of those needing to be made from scratch! I'm not sure how it is that I thought this would be possible, but I decided it was, and I made it happen!
We decided on some overall silhouettes that the designers wanted ie pointed toes and platforms, and confirmed the exact sizes required for the wonderfully diverse range of models they had cast.
Once I started, I decided that the best approach give the time frame, would be to simply get start with the basics and get every style underway asap, and then add details and develop as time would permit. I also wanted to ensure that quality was not affected, despite the time constraints, so all the soles were still full leather and everything was fully lined! It would have been great to have more time to experiment and develop the styles a bit more, but given the constraints I think it turned out to be a great collection!
My lovely partner Glenn helped out for half a day on the bandsaw for the two section platforms, Glenn's mum Di helped out for an evening unpicking bindings (and of course letting me use her garage as a temporary studio space!), and the lovely Bruce Miller helped get the wooden platforms cut super fast - ready for me to sand down and polish etc.
I've posted some of the details below - enjoy!
The very first part I got to was the insoles for some I used a cellulose board combination and for others I used a vegetable tanned leather - the leather insoles were mostly for the insoles I'd be sewing directly onto.
Next up was covering and finishing those insoles - using the beautiful fabrics supplied by Nicol & Ford.
Some uppers all sewn up and ready to be lasted! That SILK!!! The ruffling turned out to be quite a quick way to get a relatively bold textured finish without having to focus on precision.
This was one fo the most interesting parts of the project - the designers sent a reference image of some vintage platforms that used a door knob as as heel, so I set out to recreate something similar but with a bit more of a Done by Matea / Nicol & Ford vibe. I was provided with these vintage doorknobs, but I did need to resolve two things 1. how to lock the knobs from turning while being stood on and 2. how to increase the surface area of the touch point. I ended up pouring resin into the knob mechanism and using a resin putty to add a little heel topper for extra surface area - that I spray painted gold later on.
The platform itself was crafted by master heel maker Bruce Miller here in Melbourne, from technical designs/drawings I supplied. Once I recieved them, I still needed to finish them (as the surfaces were all very rough), drill holes through them for the rope straps, and apply a wood stain and several layers of sealer. And to attach the knob heels of course, and rubber to the forepart for grip.
Just a lil shot of the staining process.
For many of the styles I opted for a lace-up closure, as this would ensure a broader range of fits was possible, given I didn't have exact measurements of all the models feet.
All the styles on the work-in-progress shelf, on their way to being finished!
Insole attaching and lining straps.
Many styles had uppers that were quite delicate, so I chose to layer them over more structured linings as you can see here. The mesh (seen in the top left of the image) was later added on top of this.
Also had a BALL covering these cute little bun heels with the vintage fabrics!
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