Step­ping Up

With his first shoe col­lec­tion for Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo mak­ing its de­but, Paul An­drew has big shoes to fill. Jus­tine Lee trav­els to Seoul for the launch and to meet the Bri­tish de­signer

Hong Kong Tatler - - Contents -

With his first shoe col­lec­tion for Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo mak­ing its de­but, Paul An­drew has big shoes to fill. We travel to Seoul for the launch and to meet the Bri­tish de­signer

Dar­ling, if you need air miles, I’m your man,” jokes Paul An­drew, Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo’s de­sign di­rec­tor for women’s footwear, the brand’s first, as we meet on a sunny spring af­ter­noon in Seoul. The Bri­tish de­signer’s de­but col­lec­tion was shown re­cently in New York and Paris to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of a small group of pub­li­ca­tions, and now its roll-out is about to be­gin with a launch event in the South Korean cap­i­tal. “I just got in from New York last night,” he says, look­ing sur­pris­ingly re­freshed and ready to go af­ter his 15-hour flight. And he’s got a tough sched­ule ahead of him. An­drew hasn’t been to Asia for al­most two years, so he has de­cided to make the most of the trip; af­ter Seoul, he and the Fer­rag­amo team will be jet­ting off to Tokyo for a few days of re­search and to in­tro­duce the col­lec­tion to the Ja­panese press, and then he’s off to Oman to speak at the Condé Nast In­ter­na­tional Lux­ury Con­fer­ence. But while he’s in Seoul, An­drew finds the time to talk to us about his jour­ney thus far and his vi­sion for the brand.


How did your part­ner­ship with the brand come about?

I met the Fer­rag­amo fam­ily last sum­mer. We had a num­ber of con­ver­sa­tions and it just came down to the right tim­ing, and we also had sim­i­lar val­ues in de­sign and vi­sion. We had an aligned vi­sion on how to take the brand for­ward. I joined in Septem­ber 2016 and it’s been a bit of a whirl­wind. The first col­lec­tion was cre­ated in twoand-a-half months!

What’s the most im­por­tant as­pect of shoe de­sign?

My pri­mary con­cern for any­thing I de­sign is fit and com­fort. When I started at Fer­rag­amo, I spent most of my time re­work­ing the fit of ev­ery sin­gle shoe. I’m heav­ily in­volved in the pro­duc­tion process, and the over­ar­ch­ing theme of my first col­lec­tion is high tech meets high craft. For ex­am­ple, we’ve added things like mem­ory foam on soles and we’ve worked on tak­ing out lin­ing to make shoes softer and eas­ier to break in.

How in­volved are you with pro­duc­tion?

The pro­duc­tion process is very im­por­tant to me; that’s where I learn the most about fab­rics, fit and the tech­ni­cal aspects. And the man­u­fac­tur­ing prow­ess that’s now at my fin­ger­tips is as­ton­ish­ing. There’s a fac­tory in­side our of­fice just out­side Florence. So I can draw some­thing in the morn­ing and I’m able to see a pro­to­type by the af­ter­noon. As a shoe de­signer who lives in New York, with no man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­i­ties, it’s im­pos­si­ble; it takes weeks.

How did you achieve the “high craft meets high tech” goal?

Fer­rag­amo has been an iconic ref­er­ence for shoe de­sign and crafts­man­ship for nearly a cen­tury, so there’s a rich ar­chive to work with. My role is to fuse this rich her­itage with the lat­est in­no­va­tions in ma­te­ri­als and man­u­fac­ture. We have heels made in sneaker fac­to­ries; socks that ac­com­pany boots are made with tech­ni­cal fly­knit, and there’s ab­so­lutely no stitch­ing on them; some of our heels are lac­quered in a car fac­tory. I love the con­cept of high tech on footwear—it’s the way for­ward.

What’s it like hav­ing ac­cess to an ex­ten­sive brand his­tory?

There are over 15,000 pairs of shoes in the com­pany ar­chive. It’s quite over­whelm­ing. When one re­ally con­sid­ers what Sal­va­tore left be­hind—the legacy, the sil­hou­ettes—it’s ac­tu­ally mind bog­gling. He was so ahead of his time. The fa­mous F wedge, which I’ve rein­ter­preted in this col­lec­tion, he re­leased in 1947. Can you imagine walk­ing down the street wear­ing that then? The flower heel was in­tro­duced in the 1930s, which was also an in­cred­i­ble in­no­va­tion. All these things from the ar­chive we are tak­ing and mak­ing new again. The shape of the heel has also found its way onto clothes as but­tons, and we’re think­ing about us­ing it on a fra­grance bot­tle.

You’ve worked with 14 brands on footwear lines. How is your ex­pe­ri­ence in­flu­enc­ing your role at Fer­rag­amo?

I have a strong un­der­stand­ing of how to make a shoe work with ready-to-wear and run­way col­lec­tions, but at Fer­rag­amo, we’re fo­cus­ing on the no­tion of dress­ing from the shoe up. So you will see a lot of fo­cus on our core com­pe­tency—fer­rag­amo started off as a footwear brand. Go­ing for­ward, there’s go­ing to be more fo­cus on the shoes and build­ing the ready-to-wear col­lec­tions along­side the shoes. What peo­ple don’t know is that the de­sign process for shoes takes much longer than it does for clothes. So, ac­tu­ally, the de­vel­op­ment of shoes be­gins way be­fore the fash­ion.

WELL-HEELED Sal­va­tore Fer­rag­amo’s iconic F wedge rein­ter­preted by Paul An­drew in the house colours

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