On Our Radar: Zoe Lee
Zoe Lee is not one to let decorative flourishes detract from a cool finish, either in her tiny, pared-back new Paris boutique or in her footwear. “I’ve always been more into textures and materials. The contrast between modern and traditional interests me more than ‘decorative,’” explains the London-raised and -educated Canadian-Japanese designer, who’s an alum of both Alexander McQueen (she worked on prints and embroidery) and Vivienne Westwood. “Eventually I realized that I could convey stories with shoes. It let me slow down. You don’t have to change every season,” she said of her decision to go into footwear.
Lee favors finishes that project the patina of time—such as burnished brass-plated heels—and shapes that don’t cut across the foot, like a flat leather boot with a circular zip that spirals up the calf.
For Spring, Lee is venturing into new territory with coated linen, a material she has been wrestling with for years. “I wanted it to be an all-day modern silhouette,” she explains of the Pollock ankle boot with a silver-plated heel. “It fits like a little black jacket.” Other standouts: the Meraux knotted heel in cracked silver foil (“the bonus is that the texture camouflages wear,” she noted) and the Roseland “almost-wedge” with a gold printed heel. “I was experimenting with printing on metallic leathers, and what came out was totally not the original idea,” she admitted. “But I liked it anyway, so I kept it.”
Priced between $515 and $754, Zoe Lee footwear is available at Anthropologie, avenue32.com, zoelee.co.uk, and the designer’s Paris boutique located at 19 Rue du Parc Royal in the third arrondissement.