Elizabeth Dunn is a London based shoe designer, graduated from the prestigious shoe college Cordwainers at London College of fashion. She is trained in producing hand made shoes through both traditional and modern techniques. Now based in East London, Elizabeth understands that designing shoes is an ever-changing art, in terms of trends and new technologies. All her shoes are bespoke and made to order.
What made you choose the field of footwear design?
I originally started in Fashion mainly womenswear and then discovered the art of footwear at Cordwainers London College of Fashion, where I studied and graduated from the prestigious Shoe College in 2010. I am trained in producing hand made shoes, applying both traditional and modern techniques, with an understanding that designing shoes is an ever-changing art.
What inspires your designs?
My inspiration and design ideas come from anything and everything: glamour, love of vintage, beauty, dark topics, films, nature, artists and the red lipstick my mother wears; anything weird and wonderful.
Somehow capturing the essence of all this, and merging it with high fashion chic and vintage styles, to produce lines of shoes recognizable as my work.
How would you define your overall style?
A design philosophy focused on femininity and inspired by the allure of glamour, classic styles, always manifest in my work. A true infatuation for design that is evident in every detail of every product. All specifically designed to never be throwaway fashion and avoiding one season styling.
Ranges include tough feminine looks and solid designs luxurious footwear that feel practical without compromising on style and individuality.
What is your favorite material to work with?
My shoes are hand made in a way that achieves longevity and sustainability, by only using the best quality materials available. I love using leather, it’s the material of my trade, and the range and types and the way it works, creating beautiful shoes it is a joy to work with. But when designing, I always take into consideration classic beautiful materials, thus making them a timeless, stylish statement piece that never goes out of fashion.
Why do you hand make your shoes?
Each shoe is handcrafted by me and I love the whole personal element, how I can hand craft and bespoke pair of shoes to your requirements and it is quite an exciting and rewarding experience, and all are finished with my brand’s signature logo on the sole.
When designing my label I always have in mind mass production of each collection. Larger production is something that needs accurate planning sourcing and of course huge funding. I cannot wait for the day when my shoes are more widely available. This is something I would love to do.
Do you have a favorite piece amongst what you have designed so far?
Really hard to say but I would have to say the ‘flower’ shoes from my A/W 10 Collection, as this pair was my first piece that really captures what type of designer I am. Encompassing classic influences, but still staying true to the conceptual organic design. They are so striking and textured, they are a big statement… how could you not love them.
Who would you most like to see using one of your designs?
All I can say to that is that I am the next Jeffery Campbell / Charlotte Olympia.
That’s what I am aiming for, so watch this space!!
Tell us about the experience of featuring your collection at London Fashion Week?
London fashion week 2010 was an amazing experience to showcase my first collection. It opened a lot of doors and led to lots of new exciting opportunities. It was just great to be launching Elizabeth Dunn Footwear. After LFW my next collection was Berlin 2011, I have always been interested in art and lived with a lot of artists in my time in London. Exhibiting my shoes in a way that artists do, kind of makes sense to me. To showcase in Berlin was an opportunity I could not resist. My past showcases have been in catwalks and other exhibitions, footwear can be shown in many ways and appreciated in different ways. So I like to mix it up. Now New York is happening, so keep posted for that.
Do your final designs reflect your original idea?
Always, if not just get better as I really enjoy developing my collections, making them grow so they can be the best they can, love collaborating and getting other people’s input as it's all inspiration.
Whilst I thoroughly enjoy the creative side of design and believe that form is often essential to make a product attractive in the market, I have a keen interest in the function and practicality of the product. I greatly enjoy the aspect of problem solving and further developing commercially viable products.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Apart from Berlin, that I really loved, I would have to say London Fashion Week. Scouted to showcase so early on in my career was great, and I loved the chance to really show people what I can do, and who I am as a Footwear designer.
What are your goals in the next 5 years as a designer?
To continue growing and creating collections, New York launch is going to happen; as we speak the Capsule 13 collection is being created, so that will be exciting to launch. I am doing also a lot of exciting freelance design work, so keeping myself busy in the shoe world.
What would you ask yourself that we haven’t asked you in this interview?
Is there a possible collaboration in the future?
I am very open to new suggestions and the correct type of input to help the business grow and become as more available and priced correctly for my eventual business plan to come alive.