I can’t pinpoint any single thing that inspires me above all else, or any one place where I consciously start my search for inspiration. I’m frequently inspired by things as obvious as a painting or an artist's body of work, but I can also find my inspiration from something as ephemeral as a random texture, the foliage around me, or a memory of something I stumbled upon years ago, but just couldn’t ever quite find a use for.
I never know where inspiration will derive from, but when it hits me, I always know exactly what to do. I’ve seen that inspiration can come from anywhere, and that as a rule, it often appears when it’s least expected. Thus, I naturally try to stay aware of the inspiration that lives in my surroundings, and I love discovering (and creating) the hidden meaning that occupies the tiny cracks, details and crevices of every corner of my life.
Once I find my source of inspiration for a collection or style I research it further, create mood boards, and do my general best to surround and submerge myself in it… only then do I feel ready to hoist pencil to paper and set about conjuring that inspiration into a living, breathing piece of functional art.
Color has always been my playground. Arranging colors and discovering the peculiarities of their interactions leads to outcomes outside of my control - it’s the colors dictating what’s to come. Next, I do the same with textures and materials, combining them, altering them, discovering their natural hierarchies and modifying them to accommodate the developing vision.
By the time I finish sketching, I have a clear idea of how the shoe is going to turn out. However, while searching for materials, the discovery process only accelerates, often leading to last minute alterations to synthesize everything into one cohesive whole.
After my sketches have been completed, the color palette has been decided, and materials have been assigned to give life to the piece, it’s time to travel to Italy and visit the factory. Italy is the shoe capital of the world; their unique sense of craftsmanship is centuries old and deservedly well-heralded for its refinement. It took a great deal of research when I was first starting out, but ultimately my team and I discovered a family owned and operated, artisan-quality factory with seemingly eons of experience creating high quality luxury shoes. We meet with our co-workers there frequently during each collection’s design process, first to introduce them to the concept sketches and materials, second to make final corrections on samples and prototypes, and lastly once or twice more to ensure quality control on production.
The manufacturing process that the shoes undertake in Italy is easy to fall in love with. Everyone that works in the factory has a great deal of experience as artisan craftspeople, and they share a deep love and respect for the creation process. Once they have the sketches and materials in-hand, they immediately get to work on a prototype.
When the prototype is finished, we sit with them, carefully examine the samples and try them on – walk the shoe- to make corrections if so need it. Once the sample is approved, the creative process is complete, and full production begins. It’s an incredibly emotional and humbling moment to watch an idea that lacked form or function such a short time ago come to life with the efforts of so many skilled artisans.
The initial source of inspiration for Dakota came from the artist Carlos Cruz-Diez’s body of work, which focuses on the kinetic energy of color. I’ve always admired his artistic ability and have loved every one of his creations. I wanted to make a shoe that had similarly fun and interesting color combinations that would benefit from several variations containing different materials and textures.
I designed a d'orsay flat, which I find elegant, comfortable and effortlessly beautiful, as it’s also the perfect shoe to transition from any day to night occasion.
I love the final result and think that the interesting and exciting combinations of colors, textures and patterns add a perfect pop of color to any outfit you decide to style them with!