When it comes to shoe presentations during fashion week they can be pretty mundane with at most, the occasional model slowly walking up and down to showcase a pair. That was until Brian Atwood made his Paris Fashion Week SS18 debut last week and totally changed the game. With a trio of dancers led by choreographer and YouTube sensation Yanis Marshall, who strutted, slut-dropped and high-kicked around a room in the luxe Hotel de Crillon, all whilst wearing 11cm black patent thigh high and tie-dyed fringed over the knee boots, designed by Atwood of course, his presentation entitled “Paris is Burning," was definitely lit.
'I saw the dancers on Instagram and had to have them,' Atwood explains in-between being showered in congratulatory kisses from a glamourous coterie of friends and clients. 'When I gave them the heels, they immediately made dancing in them just look so effortless. They have so much energy and I wanted to use the film “Paris Is Burning,” as the theme as it really works for the collection. It's a celebration of everything that I love and that has always been an intrinsic part of my shoes.'
Going back to the root of his style DNA, Atwood says this collection is 'a combination of all the things I love. From fringing, rock 'n' roll, florals and tie-dyes.' This translated into heels adorned with suede pom-poms whilst others came with tassels and fringing. There were also over-the-knee gladiator sandals featuring intricate floral applique leather work and crystal encrusted platform sandals destined for Atwood's celebrity clients including Emily Ratajkowski, Lady Gaga, Riley Keough, Kate Hudson, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Lopez to name a few, who love Atwood's red carpet leg-lengthening magical effects.
For those looking for a bit more comfort without compromising on style, his SS18 collection also features plenty of flat options including winkle-pickers in neon hot pink and lime green silks. Each comes with a safety-pin-piercing which Atwood says references his love of Punk and his time at Versace in the late 90s. 'Gianni hired me. At the time I was the only American on the design team.' Having started out doing ready-to-wear, Atwood says it was Gianni who got him into footwear. 'He asked me to design some shoes for a collection and it all stemmed from there.' Atwood quickly expanded into designing accessories for the brand too and in 2001, with the approval of Donatella, he started his own namesake label whilst continuing on at Versace. In 2006, he took the decision to leave and focus solely on his own line and hasn't looked back. With a cult-following I ask Atwood is there a typical woman he designs for? 'I just love confident women,' he says. 'Anyone that can wear my heels and look like they're walking on air. There's nothing sexier. I love a woman that just walks into a room and totally owns it.'
'My boyfriend proposed to me to in Venice, earlier this year. At sunset all the buildings turn pinky so I took lots of my inspiration for this collection from there,' explains Hannah Weiland, the founder of the cult faux fur turned full ready-to-wear brand Shrimps. It's the day of her London fashion week spring summer 2018 presentation and we're standing next to a string of Shrimps clad models who patiently pose for guests demanding photos and boomerangs. You see when it comes to Shrimps, it's guaranteed #Instabait. From its colourful hues, for SS18 it's all about those pinky tones interfused with zingy lime greens, to it's quirky embroidery and illustrated prints, think feathers, shells and childlike houses to its eclectic fanbase, hello Adwoa Aboah, Alexa Chung, Grayson Perry, Laura Bailey, Susie Lau and Kate Moss.
Weiland, a history of art graduate from Bristol University and alumna of the London College of Fashion, started the label in 2013, focusing on outerwear. Her faux fuzz and mock Mongolian shearling was quickly scooped up by Net-a-Porter and Weiland has since moved into a full ready-to-wear and for SS18 features knitwear, soft tailoring, silk dresses, delicate beaded bags and fluffy slippers. Growing up between London and a house in the British countryside, Weiland says it was this experience that fuelled both her obsession with animals, flowers and textures. She now lives in West London with her fiancé and their dog, Lionel McGruff, a hypoallergenic poodle, who sounds very on-brand. As for her wedding dress, Weiland won't give much away, aside from the fact that she's designing it herself. Now that's one Insta reveal we can't wait to see.
'With a show it's over in 15 minutes but with a presentation you can present the concept, chat to people and watch the whole thing,' says Natasha Surguladze, co-founder of Tata-Naka, the fashion brand she started with her identical twin sister Tamara in 2000. For SS18, the duo chose London's National Portrait Gallery as their backdrop whose rich oil paintings perfectly complemented their 40s and 50s inspired collection. 'We looked at lot at the 'American Sportswear' created by Claire McCardell, back in that era,' says Surguladze. 'She transformed that whole glamourous era. What she did was super casual at that time.' For SS18, this translates into vintage-style jumpsuits and skirted shorts, whilst collages of vintage florals and stripes are used as prints on silks. 'We started out with quite a glamourous feel and then gradually changed it to make it feel more modern.'
Born in Georgia, the twins moved to London to pursue a career in fashion, graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2000 with a collection that launched their careers. Scooped up by buyers from Liberty and Barney's, the latter who even created a wall installation to showcase their designs, the duo have never looked back. Awarded the new generation award by the British Fashion Council, three times in a row, fans of the brand include Sophie Turner and Rita Ora and now their brand includes accessories, footwear, jewellery and most recently homeware. With an Instagram featuring Italian holidays, gallery visits and plenty of shots of their studio dog, a beautiful Weimaraner called Bee, its little wonder the duo have amassed over 40K followers who can't get enough of their joyful filled feed.
'My little girl is really into fairies at the moment. She dresses up as Tinkerbell all the time so she would love this today,' laughs Sophia Webster. Inspired by her daughter and the stories of the Cottingley Fairies plus Cicely Mary Barker's 'Flower Fairies', Webster worked with Shona Heath to create an immersive woodland set. Think nymh-esque models, giant floral installations and tree stumps and then there was the collection itself, with shoes featuring oversized leather florals, petal heels, fluttering butterlies and mirrored wooden clogs alongside handbags with wooden handles, crystalized floral fastenings and plenty of quirky slogans including 'Pretty to see, Hard to catch' and 'I'll bring you flowers.'
I loved the stories of the Cottingley Fairies,' explains Webster. 'They were the two young girls in the 1920s who fooled the whole country into believing they had taken photos of fairies, so that's where I started with my mood board for this season.' After studying at Cordwainers College and The Royal College of Art, Webster began her shoe career working with Nicholas Kirkwood on his namesake label. In 2012, she launched her own brand with Kirkwood as her mentor. Fast forward five years later and her shoes have been spotted on everyone from Kendall Jenner to Blake Lively, she's has a BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund trophy her on mantelpiece plus earlier this year launched her own first stand-alone store on London's Mount Street.
Never one to just sit back, for next season Webster has worked with new techniques to develop her signature silhouettes plus detailed features including crochet and leather work. Pointing to a pair of over-the-knee diamante covered silver cut-out boots, Webster says 'These are a real statement piece. They are totally encrusted. They take so long to develop as you really have to think about the placement and the patterns.' Another exciting development is a partnership with the British jeweller, Alex Monroe on a range of handmade wing-inspired earpieces and dandelion leaf cuffs and rings. Perfect, for fluttering IRL fairies.
'No photos' read the sign at the entrance-way to the Aquazzura SS18 presentation. In today's Insta-age it's a rare sight to behold, but with the brand regularly being knocked off (the case between the brand and Ivanka Trump over a trademarked fringe sandal is set to take place in March) you can see why they're being cautious about their designs for next season. However, there is one aspect of the presentation that doesn't fall under the social media ban, a collaboration with Claudia Schiffer. Compromising of eight styles, the collection is said to said to be based around a capsule closet of shoes based on Schiffer's favourite pieces. 'Not only is Claudia one of the most iconic women in the world, but she also has an amazing eye for fashion after so many years working in the industry,' said Osorio in a release. 'It has been so exciting working together and creating a perfect shoe wardrobe that we both love.'
Taking inspiration from Schiffer's memories, the designs include 'Night Sky' ballerina flat and pumps with cloud embroidery that pays homage to Claudia’s childhood nickname, Cloudy, while images captured by iconic photographers like Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton of Schiffer in the 90s provide inspiration for some of the most glamorous styles, like the Star and Crystal Star Sandals. 'As soon as I met Edgardo, we began talking about fashion - and shoes in particular - and it became obvious that we agreed on so many things,' says Schiffer. 'Partly because of this synergy, and partly because of his incredible talent and beautiful taste, creating this collection together has been a pure pleasure - and it will hopefully give the women who wear the shoes just the same delight.'
Founded in 2011 by Colombian designer Edgardo Osorio, Aquazzura is a luxury footwear brand based in the historic Palazzo Corsini in the heart of Florence. With a focus on fusing craftsmanship with modernity and wearability, it has quickly become a go-to for women of all ages around the world and is adored by celebrities including Julianne Moore, Rihanna and Diane Kruger.
The Claudia Schiffer for AQUAZZURA collection is available to buy now