When we think of audaciously graphic, sculptural-yet-effortlessly elegant footwear, we think of Nicholas Kirkwood. Hand-crafted from luxurious fabrications such as custom-made grained leather via Italian artisans, and decorated with faux Mother-of-Pearl embellishments, gilded hardware and mirrored heels aplenty, his shoes cross the border into otherworldly realms of extraordinary accessorising.

Nicholas has been firmly at the top of his game since his first foray into footwear in 2005 (he’s scored a hat-trick with the Accessory Designer Award and was shortlisted for the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund) – and the coming SS19 season will see him jump ship from Paris and return triumphantly to the British Capital with a seminal on-schedule show format.

We met the designer in his Soho studio to delve a little deeper…

Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about your London showcase?
Not only will this be the first time I’ve ever showed in London – but, on top of that, it also marks my work’s debut in a ‘show’ format, compared to the past five years of presentations in Paris. My vision is to create a real experience; this won’t be your typical 'up-and-down the runway’ event, but something that evokes emotions for people and leaves a lasting memory.

Fashion shows should be about theatre and escapism – like the early days of Alexander McQueen. I want my shows to be an outlet for my creativity. As much as I want to make shoes that people can actually wear, I simultaneously want to push the potential of silhouettes creatively. I’d like to have the opportunity to create shoes that are a little bit different and experimental – and not always practical!

Life is too short to wear practical shoes 24/7! Does this mantra echo in the story behind your ‘Imperfect Tension’ collection?
I love creating tension in my designs – whether that's through marrying something very traditionally masculine with something traditionally feminine, or something very synthetic and man-made with something organic. There’s beauty in imperfection... It’s what creates conversations!

The FW18 collection is built around the idea of imperfect tension – that’s where these contrasts come into play. The designs take their cues from the spirit of grungy, rebellious teenage years, and from the unapologetic attitude of my 1990s music heroines like Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth, or D’arcy Wretzky from Smashing Pumpkins, who shared a confidence in not being ‘perfect’. There’s a very raw and deconstructed feel to that epoch with hints of 'punk' done in a softer way, all of which I find aesthetically interesting and have called upon for the ‘Imperfect Tension’ collection. 

Where do you look for inspiration and motivation in terms of that more conceptual ‘out of the box’ or theatrical thinking that you mentioned?
We need to experiment and learn from our mistakes; I believe that if you’re not making any mistakes, then you’re not pushing yourself enough. The whole idea of experimentation is that you’re going to have some peaks and some troughs. Ultimately, mistakes lead to something new and innovative – countless scientific revelations have happened as a result of something not going to plan.

In the words of Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

Click here to learn more about Nicholas Kirkwood.