Way­ward na­dia moro

Co-founder Rem D Kool­haas re­veals how a bro­ken heart led to a brand push­ing the bound­aries of de­sign.

Schon! - - Contents - Photography. na­dia moro fash­ion. raf­faella cam­peggi

Top & dress / Cé­line Shoes / Proenza Schouler

Op­po­site Coat / Marni

Coat / Stella McCart­ney

Jacket & skirt / Yo­hji Ya­mamoto Train­ers / Marc by Marc Ja­cobs

To­tal look / Yo­hji Ya­mamoto

To­tal look / Proenza Schouler

Jumper / Stella McCart­ney Trousers & jacket worn as belt / MM6 Train­ers / Pierre Hardy

Jacket & trousers / Vivi­enne West­wood

Cardi­gan / Vivi­enne West­wood An­glo­ma­nia

Shirt / Pe­dro del Hierro

Photography / Na­dia Moro Styling / Raf­faella Cam­peggi Model / Franzi Mueller @ IMG Hair / Les­lie Thibaud @ Air­port Agency Make Up / Tiziana Rai­mondo @ Air­port Agency Photography As­sis­tant / Nas­tas­sia Brame Styling As­sis­tant / Le­tizia Maria Al­lodi

Dig­i­tal As­sis­tant / Franck Jes­sueld

Shoes / United Nude Paris Ox­ford Riz in mus­tard printed satin & black satin patent Jump Black in quilted satin, mus­tard split suede & ash gun metal­lic nappa

It is fash­ion’s worst kept se­cret that, de­spite be­ing a prod­uct cre­ated ex­clu­sively for women, 90 per­cent of ev­ery heel pro­duced comes from the imag­i­na­tion of a man. It is just as in­ter­est­ing that be­hind ev­ery woman’s ob­ses­sion with a great shoe, is a man who is just as ob­sessed as she is or, in the case of United Nude’s co-founder and Cre­ative Direc­tor Rem D Kool­haas, a shoe’s po­ten­tial to rekin­dle the af­fec­tions of a woman. Kool­haas’ tran­si­tion from ar­chi­tect to con­tem­po­rary shoe con­nois­seur was fu­elled by an at­tempt to win back a girl.

“Led by my bro­ken heart, I coin­ci­dently de­signed a small se­ries of archis­culp­tural shoes,” re­veals Kool­haas. “I felt the need to scale down ar­chi­tec­ture to its small­est form – that of a woman’s foot.” He was hop­ing that shoes would be the route to a woman’s heart, but adds, “Over the years I learned that the rea­son women love shoes is be­cause shoes em­power them. High heels do some­thing to a woman that noth­ing else can.”

Fast for­ward to 2003 and you have the ge­n­e­sis of United Nude: a fore­run­ner in ar­chi­tec­tural footwear, and the cre­ative brain­child of Dutch ar­chi­tect Kool­haas and sev­enth gen­er­a­tion shoe­maker Gala­had Clark (of iconic Bri­tish footwear brand Clarks). To­gether, they’ve cre­ated a house style that is in­stantly recog­nis­able, and ap­peals to what Kool­haas de­scribes as an “el­e­gant, strong, clever and in­de­pen­dent woman, with a good eye for de­sign.” Known for its con­tem­po­rary mix of con­trast­ing prints and ma­te­ri­als, a modernist take on clas­sic shapes and the pair­ing of unique de­signs with in­no­va­tive struc­ture, United Nude takes aes­thetics that we know and love and in­fuses them with a dis­tinctly ex­per­i­men­tal edge.

The art of 3D cre­ation comes nat­u­rally to Kool­haas; it could even be con­sid­ered the fam­ily trade. He is the nephew of a world renowned ar­chi­tect, his fa­ther was an ur­ban designer and his mother is a graphic artist. “I grew up learn­ing to look at the world from a de­sign point of view,” Kool­haas ex­plains, and although the jump from build­ings to footwear seems to be quite a leap, he in­sists that, “of all the de­sign dis­ci­plines, ar­chi­tec­ture is prob­a­bly the eas­i­est to scale down.”

The way in which a United Nude shoe comes to life gives us a glimpse into de­sign’s im­mi­nent fu­ture – a fu­ture led by the com­puter. As Kool­haas ex­plains, each de­sign be­gins by “putting pen­cil to pa­per, then some hand­made 3D mod­els, or some­times straight into the com­puter for 3D print­ing”. De­spite the heavy tech­no­log­i­cal in­flu­ence, he finds in­spi­ra­tion in the qui­eter mo­ments of life, com­par­ing his clear mind to “a blank piece of pa­per. New ideas eas­ily en­ter my mind when I’m on my own. When my phone and com­puter are off and I stare at the hori­zon from a car, plane or train.”

If you look hard enough, you can see th­ese in­flu­ences speak vol­umes in Kool­haas’ work. Trans­fer­ring awe-inspiring quirks of the real world to fan­tasy-like footwear is one of United Nude’s defin­ing fac­tors. It’s this dar­ing ap­proach that has led to the brand’s pres­ence among haute cou­ture run­ways, the wardrobe of Lady Gaga and col­lab­o­ra­tions with the likes of Zaha Ha­did. “I love to col­lab­o­rate with any­one that has a dif­fer­ent skill set than us, has a great idea, or great tal­ent,” Kool­haas en­thuses. “Col­lab­o­rat­ing is per­haps the most fun and inspiring part of my work.”

United Nude’s grow­ing suc­cess could be at­trib­uted to its unique view on de­sign. There is no fash­ion and ar­chi­tec­ture, each shoe is “a piece of ar­chi­tec­ture” ac­cord­ing to Kool­haas, and if the ever-evolv­ing worlds of fash­ion, tech­nol­ogy and ar­chi­tec­ture are merg­ing, why not em­brace it? “Bound­aries be­tween fields are break­ing,” he con­tin­ues. “Cross-dis­ci­plinary ap­proaches have proven more and more suc­cess­ful.” But, with devel­op­ment, comes even fiercer com­pe­ti­tion. In or­der to keep up, Kool­haas says that, “we are keep­ing our eyes and ears open. We con­stantly ex­plore and ex­per­i­ment with new meth­ods, ma­te­ri­als and tech­nolo­gies to im­prove our de­signs.”

It’s a long way from the shoe designer’s bro­ken hearted be­gin­nings. Re­flect­ing back, Kool­haas muses on the brand’s first shoe, the Möbius. “This shoe made me change my life,” he states. “I changed my pro­fes­sion and I moved to the other side of the world. It was not just a shoe that I made, but it was also the shoe that made me.”

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