Na­jeeba Hayat is the Kuwaiti cre­ative be­hind Li­ud­mila, a Mi­lan-based brand of shoes that’s gain­ing world­wide trac­tion for beau­ti­fully hand­made prod­ucts that are as quirky as they are mag­i­cal.

Bespoke - - THE CONTENTS -

You’ve been mak­ing shoes since 2013, and in that pe­riod you’ve said your cre­ativ­ity comes from a naïve place, when you’re dis­con­nected from elec­tron­ics and con­nected with na­ture and your­self, but the shoes also have a de­fin­i­tive edge, a cer­tain dark sex­i­ness to them. Is this how you view the world?

It de­pends which shoe, re­ally but yes, I would de­scribe my Vic­to­rian boots as dark and sexy. That in­spi­ra­tion comes from di­verse sources but mostly from my ob­ses­sive read­ing of Vic­to­rian and early 20th cen­tury de­tec­tive nov­els and mys­ter­ies. I love shoes that bring an at­mos­phere with them, through a tight­ness on the calves, the­atri­cal lac­ing and sin­is­ter ma­te­ri­als. I see the world like Dick­ens does; each char­ac­ter plays a role in the vast sea of hu­man­ity and I de­light in their dif­fer­ences. For ex­am­ple, in my PS17 col­lec­tion, there’s the Made­moi­selle Hortensem, which is an eel-skin boot with tight lac­ing along the front and small round buckle at the vamp. It was named af­ter the mur­der­ous nanny from Bleak House. The small, tight lac­ing and dis­creet de­tails were all meant to recre­ate the but­toned up se­crecy and the dark mood that the French nanny car­ried with her through­out the novel. When I disen­gage with elec­tron­ics, my ideas come to me more clearly, un­in­ter­rupted by the con­stant feed of in­for­ma­tion from so­cial me­dia. I need si­lence for my ideas to come at me with force.

Your brand is sud­denly grow­ing very quickly (your col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ri­hanna’s stylist, Avi­gail Collins, your shoes be­ing worn by Chi­nese ac­tress Yang Mi, Vogue Ara­bia and so on). What was the cat­a­lyst?

There was a lot of ran­dom luck in­volved and I wouldn't say there was any one cat­a­lyst. I have been get­ting pos­i­tive press from the start and the brand has been head­ing slowly up­ward since the first sea­son. Brown’s in Lon­don was my first big break on my sec­ond

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