Nicholas Kirkwood: Shoe Artisan

“I always wanted to make shoes that were the Antichrist to pretty pumps and kitten heels.” – Nicholas Kirkwood

It is this attitude that has Nicholas Kirkwood at the top of his game.  Here is a designer that at just 28 years of age is hitting the dizzy heights of super designer status so early in his career that he is being requested to collaborate with designers such as Rodarte, Chloè, Zac Posen and Gareth Pugh.

“The first time I ever saw his shoes, I knew he was destined for greatness.” – Yasmin Sewell

A very busy designer, Nicholas designs about 350 styles a season, but how did this couture cobbler get started?  While studying at Central Saint Martins College in London, he worked for milliner extraordinaire Philip Treacy in his London store.  “All these ladies would bring in their outfits to try on with their hats… fabulous… exciting outfits, like McQueen.  But horrendous shoes – all girlie with bows on.  I thought, “Maybe I can do something about that.”‘

Following a year in a technical course at Cordwainers (the shoe-making college), Kirkwood took his first collection that he had made on his kitchen table to Paris.  He didn’t sell a single pair but fast-forward four years and not only does Kirkwood have a small artisanal Italian factory making his creations, but he is stocked in 85 stores around the world.  

Nicholas Kirkwood’s menacingly seductive heels are not for wallflowers.  Never a frill or bow in sight, they channel 80s power stilettos with jumped up sex appeal, rejecting ornamentation in favour of sculptural glamour.  Kirkwood uses unusual materials including lizard, stingray, watersnake, python and buffalo horn.  It’s evident that Kirkwood takes an artisinal approach to design, with meticulous attention to detailing and construction.

“Decorating for the sake of decorating is a really old-fashioned notion, I’m more about form and function. Some of my heels look quite aggressive, but they are always feminine – not girly, you won’t find any bows or diamonds.” – Nicholas Kirkwood

Women throughout Europe and the US are snapping up Kirkwood heels in a frenzy.  I don’t know how they can actually stand up in them, let alone walk anywhere in them!  But if Kirkwood is indeed “The New Louboutin” as he is being touted in some circles, his designs truly speak for themself, they are truly daring and original.  

I would love to see what he could do to a ballet flat, wouldn’t you?

Ciao for now,


Sources: Elle UK,,, Vogue Russia, Oyster Magazine

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