Last week I had the pleasure of meeting shoe designer Tabitha Simmons, who was showcasing her spring/summer collection exclusively at Lane Crawford. The designer was refreshingly down to earth (must be a British thing) and humble, but also really on the pulse when it comes to fashion and knowing what women want to wear.
It makes sense when you realise that her previous day job was styling shows and campaigns for greats like Alexander McQueen and Dolce & Gabbana (now I know how she made a simple black dress look so chic). While she still works frequently on editorials for the likes of Vogue, where she remains a contributing editor, shoes have been her passion since she launched her eponymous label in 2009.
If I had to sum up her design style, I would say it’s quirky yet polished, with a hint of retro and British eccentricity. Rather than focus on creating trendy pieces each season, she designs like a stylist would edit a wardrobe, creating must-have yet classic pieces that fills the gaps of any shoe closet.
Being a working mother, comfortand quality is a high priority as I discovered when I tried on her must-have Alexa flats . I loved the elegant of the preppy black and white design and pointed toe while a hidden platform in the heel makes them super comfortable. Needless to say I will be investing in a pair!
We chatted with her briefly to find out about her favourite pair of shoes and her style advice for all women out there…
Describe the style of your brand in one sentence. …
Classic with a whimsical and feminine twist.
We read it took a long time to develop your first shoe collection – how come?
For us it’s about the detail and amount of attention that goes into each shoe. It can be a detail like a hidden logo in a print, corseted lacing or the material used on the sole of the shoe, but we had to make sure everything was perfect.
Since you started shoes have become as important if not more important than clothes. In light of this are your shoes designed to fit into women’s wardrobes or define them?
I would say a bit of both. I always aim to offer classic looking styles that can be worn season after season with any wardrobe but do feel a shoe can define an outfit.
Does your background as a stylist influence how you design your collections?
Styling has influenced me greatly from learning to edit a collection to paying attention to every detail. For me, a collection always starts with an idea and then we run with that idea. It’s all about instinct for me.
We hear you have around 400 pairs in your personal collection – which is your favourite?
I think I might have more pairs than that now! My favourites are my shoes from the McQueen fashion shows and at the moment I cannot take the Bonai from SS14 off my feet!
What style should everyone own from Tabitha Simmons?
The Alexa flat as it can be worn with everything from dresses to pants.
What about your latest collection?
My SS14 collection was inspired by the colours and the shape of butterfly wings. I took that feminine element and added a touch of menswear and black/white suiting to balance out the look. My favorite style would be my lace up bootie Alexa with chain.
A great pair of shoes should make women feel…
Confident and sexy.
Flats or heels?
Impossible to choose.
What’s your style motto?
Be yourself and know what works for you.
Alexa with chain
Tabitha Simmons is available at Lane Crawford. www.tabithasimmons.com