Upper Street has collaborated with London College of Fashion Cordwainers to showcase the emerging design talent created in the country’s capital. Here, we talk to Claire Morgan, one of the winning designers, about the project and her final product
What was the project?
The original brief was to design a new bespoke piece for Upper Street using the theme of music as a starting point. Upper Street make ladies shoes that are fully customisable using a 3d online web tool. Our shoes had to take this into consideration, with parts that were easily changeable. We were given the lasts, kit and components at the beginning, meaning that we were unable to change the basic shapes, heels or heights. We had to work purely using line, colour and detail to create a new and fresh design to catch the attention of prospective customers.
Where did you find your inspiration?
The design brief was very broad, with the theme simply being ‘Music.’ I chose Vogue by Madonna as my starting point. For me this song is relatively unique, it’s something that women of all ages can relate to, most women from 10-100 will happily strike a pose. I particularly like that the message is so positive and inspirational. I am very passionate about women’s rights and equality in all forms so it seemed perfect. I am very inspired by art deco and the Golden Age of Hollywood and both the songs lyrics and video reference this. I looked a lot at evening dresses and garments from the 1920s and 1930s, using their details and materials to produce an intricate shoe with a luxe feel. The leaf pattern was inspired by a detail from a showgirl costume of the period.
What was the biggest challenge?
The hardest challenge as a footwear student is the restrictions we have to work within. Time was a difficult factor with this project – we only had a nine-week term to research, design and make a full prototype of our shoe in order to enter the competition. In industry you would have much longer and a team of expert pattern cutters and technicians to help with fit and detailing.
What are you most pleased with?
I’m pleased with the way the commercial shoe produced by Upper Street mirrors my original prototype so well. Upper Street has retained much of the magic and glamour that I tried to capture with the design.
Client involvement – hands-on or hands-off?
Although I have very little direct experience of this, I think it is always important for a client to be involved in a project. At the end of the day, most clients have a very specific set of needs and parameters that need to be met and a design has to accommodate this in order to be successful.
I have just started a Masters at Cordwainers in Fashion Footwear, so for now studying has priority. At the moment I’m hoping to make both men’s and women’s shoes. Currently my work is inspired by couture embellishments and the concept of ‘Modern Glamour’ but who knows where the next year may take me. After that, I would like to spend a few years working for a footwear company, learning what it takes, before I start to consider setting up on my own.
To explore the rest of the Cordwainers Collection, visit Upper Street