Nicholas Kirkwood Fall 2011:
A Little Don King, A Little Keith Haring
Fashion nomenclature is important. Just pull up in your memory banks anything from the New Look skirt and the Mondrian dress to the Baguette, Paddington, and Tribute. So it’s occasionally a disappointment when Nicholas Kirkwood, one of the industry’s most imaginative shoe designers, looks a bit puzzled when asked if one of his works has a name. But while showing his latest collection earlier this week in Paris, Kirkwood held up a black leather platform sandal with a stiff, stand-up ruff of black goat hair (above left). “I call it the Don King shoe,” he said with a smile. Well, that’s a start.
The biggest headline this season is easily Kirkwood’s Most Expensive Shoe Ever. It’s his classic futuristic-looking platform sandal fully embroidered with gold-hued metal thread, inspired by a Moroccan slipper (below left). If you’re dying to buy the neo-baroque wonder for around $7,000, you’ll either have to sort out Moda Operandi’s buying window or totter over to Kirkwood’s new Mount Street boutique in London. (You might even catch a glimpse of the designer himself. It’s in the same building as his studio.)
That’s also where he’ll be showing off his collaboration with the Keith Haring Foundation. As seems to be a retail trend, the store has an exhibition space in front. “We’re going to have like eight-foot crawling babies and barking dogs,” explained Kirkwood. And of course, shoes. “It’s not going to be just a print on a shoe. That’s too obvious,” he said. “I want to try something like a crawling baby heel.” By comparison, some of Fall’s new directions—whether the knobby stiletto, madly sculptural wedge platform, or the lace-patterned fabrication that’s laser-cut satin fused with suede and then embossed—seem almost easy. How does his Italian factory respond to all of his various out-of-the-shoe-box requests? Kirkwood smiled again, “They want to kill me.”