A selection from Lislie Yeung’s SS11 collection
I know most women out there are Louboutin fans but I think the most interesting designers in the shoe business are coming out of the UK. In the past few years we have seen the edgy creations of Nicholas Kirkwood, the elegance of Jonathan Kelsey and of course, the sleek lines of Rupert Sanderson. My latest find is Cordwainer’s graduate, Lislie Yeung. I spotted her lace covered sculptural stilettos-cum-wedges online and wanted to know more.
I was surprised to find out that New York based Lislie was actually born in Hong Kong although she moved to Surrey in the UK at the age of six. She initially studied women’s wear at Parsons in New York but eventually fell into shoes and completed an MA at Cordwainer’s. She debuted her collection at London Fashion Week and will stock the line at Browns in England in July. She also has a small collection available online while also designing the shoes for New York designer Derek Lam.
I got a chance to chat with Lislie about her inspirations, style and crawling ants (read on for an explanation!)
Why did you want to become a shoe designer?
I’ve always appreciated the lines and proportions of a good design and it so happened I noticed it a lot more in shoes. After school I was offered freelance jobs that lead me to experience shoe design. I really loved it and decided to fully pursue it.
What is it you love most about shoes?
For me it is visual – it has to grab me with great lines and beautiful shapes/proportions. The best is when it is not too contrived but a simple clean pump. Of course it’s how the shoe makes you feel ultimately.
Describe your aesthetic.
Subtle but with thoughtful strong details, and sexy with soft femininity. A cool element is important.
From what you’ve created so far, what’s your favourite design?
It would have to be a pair of vegetable-tanned leather heels that I sprayed coloured myself, with a hand carved wooden twisted heel and metal ants crawling allover it! It was during my graduate program at Cordwainers, we had a Dali project and I wanted to create a pair of sexy shoes that associated with Dali and his work. The little metal ants was the best part. The overall pair looked like it had morphed from the wind twirling around the shoe, creating the lines, the shape of the heel and guiding the ants.
What other cobblers do you admire and why?
I admire other designers that try to do new, fresh things while respecting traditions and the craft of shoemaking. I like Nicholas Kirkwood, Bruno Frisoni for Roger Vivier and Pierre Hardy.
Flats or heels?
I have to say heels. I have more of an emotional connection to heels than flats. No flat in the world has made me feel as much emotion as heels do. Flats are for sensible people, fashion is not always so sensible is it?
What inspires you?
Inspiration comes from many places – usually something organic, weird and wonderful, but also furniture and jewellery. I think Asia and my heritage always interests and inspires me.
How can you tell a well-made and designed shoe from a bad one?
I think the difference between the two is vastly drawing closer. Price does not always determine the quality or design. Usually the give away for me is the details – the size of the needle, the stiffness of the counter or toe box and the soles. The inside is just as important as the outside.
What styles should every woman own in her wardrobe?
Shoeties! They cover just enough but not too much. It’s comfortable in the summer and for fall, it looks slightly cooler and edgier to have an almost boot.