Stephanie von Watzdorf is a highly-regarded fashion designer with nomadic tendencies. Before founding her fashion line, Figue, she graduated from Parsons School of Design, where she was awarded the Calvin Klein Golden Thimble. Then she worked for Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch. Her personal life is equally impressive. Stephanie was born on the outskirts of Paris. She travels incessantly, far and wide, with her photographer husband for work and for pleasure.
Her life seems truly bohemian. And her fashions are like wearable wanderlust.
Stephanie von Watzdorf in Haiti
When traveling, especially a lot, nothing is more important than your footwear. Stephanie knows this well and her travels inform what she wears and creates, often with the aid of local artisans. Her designs, like her Scaramouche sandals crafted in India from supple leather, reflect regional and traditional styles. Suffering for fashion has its limitations—especially when crossing borders and wandering foreign cities—but with Figue sandals, there’s no need to sacrifice your feet or your outfit.
We caught up with the chic trekker to talk about travel, photography (she shared some pics from trips to Kenya and Tanzania) and sandals.
You’re an avid traveler. Where have you been recently?
Recently I was on the coast of Kenya on three different islands: Manda Bay, Kiwayu and Lamu. It was an adventure, and warm and sunny, filled with joyous people and charm. Think Robinson Crusoe—no cars, only donkeys and boats for transportation. Life is beautiful and simply heaven in this part of the world.
What did you buy when you were there?
I bought some beautiful things for the home and some vintage fabrics as well. My favorite piece is the recycled sail cloth embroidered with hearts made by artisans.
How does travel inspire your collection for Figue?
Everything about travel (except the jet lag) inspires me—the people, the colors, the music, the crafts, the smells, the water, the views and the vibes.
How do you select the artisans you work with? Who are some interesting contributors to your sandal designs?
Some of the people I work with I have known for years and some of them I work with for one season—it just depends on what feels right for the moment. The sandal designs are inspired by traditional Indian sandals called Kolhapuri. I have been wearing this type of sandal since I was a child, as my grandparents used to live in India. So for me, they are kind of a classic. I have taken the original design and interpreted it in new materials, colors and textures to celebrate a classic sandal.
Zanzibar by Michael Lucas
What is new with your sandal collection for 2017?
Metallic leathers, leopard haircalf, evil eyes and hand-embroidered slip-ons (slides). I am so excited!
You really like photography. Who are some of your favorite photographers?
I love my husband’s work—Michael Lucas—as well as Jimmy Nelson, Steve McCurry, Matthieu Paley, Brian Hodges, Lyle Owerko and Eduardo Martins.
And which Instagram accounts do you like right now?
Where are you off to next?
Haiti and Texas.
SHOP: Figue footwear