It’s not every day you get a window on the path of a rising star. While British shoe designer Rupert Sanderson has been on the ascendancy since his 2001 launch (he was named the British Fashion Council’s Accessory Designer of the Year in 2008 and, in 2009, the year’s Accessory Designer at the Elle Style Awards), the past few seasons have been a star-studded, wicked-heel-wearing golden arrow. We caught the London-based stylemaker via phone on a recent Friday as he, his wife and their three boys motored off to the “wilds of the Suffolk Coast.” Sounds like the perfect place to tromp around in some Crescent riding boots if you ask us.
THE THREAD: Your collection includes both strappy, cut-out sandals with four-inch heels and borrowed-from-the-boys booties. Tell us about the modern mix, and the modern woman you design for.
Sanderson: Because I have my own retail business bang in the middle of Mayfair on Bruton Place, I can think about these real women who come into my shop and design with them in mind. I can put myself in the mind of these women and see them dressing up in the evening and wearing something very light and almost frivolous, and then kicking about in biker boots at the week’s end. I can see a woman throughout her week wearing all of my shoes. I enjoy having a flight of fancy with the really glamorous styles, but I enjoy making shoes that women can wear again and again as well. I really enjoy the definitions between seasons. We’re in the middle of designing for fall/winter 2015, and I find myself still going for incredibly light sandals, but I love designing boots as well.
Yes, that flight of fancy. Your shoes do so well in fashion storytelling, and they’re super-popular with celebrities and in editorials.
The Estelles are always popular with stylists; there’s really very little of them there. They’re a great party shoe. Italian Vogue used the biker boots in a really interesting way quite recently. There was this very high-gothic look—white and witchy with snowy cobwebs. The outfit they conjured wasn’t for everyday wear, but it was that fantasy thing. Very fun.
What are the guiding principals that ground your collection? The notion of “less is more” is often cited as a Rupert Sanderson ethos, but the average customer probably wouldn’t see minimalism as a foundation of your work.
The collection itself is really small—I want it to be small. The idea of less being more personally holds me in good stead. I constantly have to edit everything; I’m constantly taking away, sharpening. I take elements and styles out of a collection in order to keep it focused, to give it a sense of identity. So often things just sprawl. We’re so bombarded with stuff—there’s a wall of news around us. Everyone can have their own Instagram, everyone can self-publish. There’s no check on creativity. In many ways, the most creative people are the editors, because they’re shaping what’s out there. Putting out less and making sure that it’s as good and as strong and powerful as you can make it: I believe that’s a good practice.
Now, just for fun, tell us what three women in all of history you’d like to see in your shoes.
From Cleopatra to Kristin Scott Thomas, it’s almost impossible to choose. Kristin is a client, but she’s more than that. I met her in Paris about ten years ago and she’s been very supportive ever since. I did see a really great old image of Charlotte Rampling the other day. The focus with her is her face, it’s so interesting. She was wearing a Halston column dress and I thought of designing a pair of shoes to go with it.
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