Filipino designer Ivy Kirzhner’s contemporary footwear line is making waves around the world, particularly in America, where she is based, and in the UAE, where her edgy, gold-plated leather pairs are best-sellers at Level Shoe District and Saks Fifth Avenue in Dubai.
After a stint as creative director and head footwear designer at BCBG Max Azria and Herve Leger, Kirzhner launched her own label in 2012. Her current celebrity followers includes BeyoncÃ©, Jennifer Lopez and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Now working on her forthcoming resort 2017 collection at her headquarters in SoHo in New York City, Kirzhner took time out to chat with The National.
Your family moved from Manila to the United States when you were 8. Do your Filipino roots influence your work?
Always – the Filipino culture as a whole is an amalgam of various cultures. My knack for rich ornamentations and textures all come from this deeply rooted flair.
What about your immigrant upbringing in the New York borough of Queens – did that inspire you?
My immigrant upbringing continues to pulse through my veins. It’s what kept me grounded all these years. My upbringing was always about finding a way to move forward and upwards, which I hope is reflected in my work. I never cower from hard work.
What made you specialise in footwear design? Have you always known it was going to be the focus of your work?
My family is filled with fashion designers, architects, artists, engineers and some fierce fashionistas. Creativity runs in my blood, but my father made sure that our more cerebral side is fully developed as well. He’s an architect and an engineer – growing up, I would watch him design and execute these amazing, massive structures. But my interest growing up was really in fashion. I enjoyed the self-expression part of it. With two older sisters already with degrees and their own empire in the fashion world, I decided at the age of 16 that I wanted to pursue something that was a mix of fashion, architecture and engineering – something that was not just creative, but really could use my knack for cerebral thought. Shoes were the first thing that came to my mind, so I decided I wanted to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology and major in footwear design.
Where does an Ivy Kirzhner shoe originate?
Inspiration comes to me in various ways – it could be an outrageous mash-up of polarising concepts such as 1980s glam rock meets bohemian hippie culture in outer space. Whatever design narrative I decide on, first and foremost I always think of my “muses” – that cool, global set of chic and attitude-fuelled women. I always try to pre-empt their fashion sensibilities season to season: what kinds of silhouettes they’ll be wearing and how they’ll style themselves, what textures and colours will they be into. I am aware of what goes on in their wardrobes, and I’m here to supplement it with fun, unique statements every season.
A-list stars have worn your shoes – surely that’s a validation every designer cherishes.
Having big celebrities such as BeyoncÃ©, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira not just wear our shoes, but also perform, dance and totally rock out in them, is always an amazing and incredible thing to have accomplished. It’s probably the closest I could ever get to them. We also have newfound fans in trailblazing musicians such as Ellie Goulding, FKA Twigs and Zendaya.
Your collections are selling well in Dubai and Bahrain. Any observations about the Arab customer?
I am making plans to visit the Middle East very soon as I have been wanting to see cities such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and experience, first-hand, the fascinating culture. Arab women are some of the fiercest, most elegant and most stunning specimens, especially with the way they accessorise and glam up. It is clear that these women have a particularly discerning eye and know exactly what works for them.
You’ve also recently started designing handbags.
I love handbags. It’s very personal to me as I am even more discerning when it comes to handbags than shoes. I own closets filled with shoes, but I really am particular with what kind of bag I carry. Handbags are either utility or statement, so we decided to do both. We’ve infused some of our signature detailing and hardware on our handbags, but made sure it didn’t get in the way of function and versatility.
What’s next for you?
More product extensions as we grow more and more into a lifestyle brand – and, of course, world domination!
• For more details, visit www.ivykirzhner.com
Source: art & life