Would you or have you actually designed some pairs of shoes without the benefit of your requisite preparatory drawings?
Yes, quite often I do shoes when I am in the factory already. When I get an idea there and then I shape the last there and cut the pattern. Some of the shoes are done without the sketch being done beforehand.
Ultimately, do you merely see your shoe-drawings as preparatory studies for the actualization of the real shoes—in much the same way that, for example, Seurat or Ingres had used theirs, as “studies” for their paintings—or do you see these drawings as complete, independent mode of artistic expressions in themselves?
Most of the time the drawings are done beforehand and then the actual last and heel are done based on that drawing. So yes, they are a preparation for the actual shoe. However, I guess you can consider them as a separate artistic expression.
Are you more deliberate and hesitant or quick and assured when drawing the shoes?
I think that when I have something in my mind I am quick and assured in the way I put it down on paper. However, I do look over it later and contemplate and sometimes correct or change.
How much of your mood, a place, a moment, or a particular memory—is possibly revealed or concealed in some of your drawings?
A lot. Each drawing and each shoe is inspired by something in my mind. Whether it is a film, a woman, a smell or a view. So when I look back on a drawing or a finished shoe, I remember straight away what idea in my mind conceived it. I also hope that people see that in my shoes as well when they see them. I hope they see what my inspiration was. At least a little bit …
Is the exquisite eroticism in your shoe drawings partly or totally conscious? Or is it perhaps the opposite?
Thank you for labeling my shoes as erotic, though it is totally unconscious.
Your shoes are generally available for purchase but your drawings—as much as legions of your fans love them—are not particularly accessible on the market. Why is that?
I never think about seeing my scribbles or sketches in a gallery. Normally I don’t sell them, so the only way for me to allow people to see them is in books. We’ve now published the second book of my drawings with Thames and Hudson. It came out in September, this year.
Where can one buy these drawings, what sizes do they come in and what is the price range?
I don’t sell them, so I can’t really put a price tag on them. Sometimes I donate a drawing to charity. Recently one, which I donated, sold for a large sum. Maybe one day I will do an exhibition of the drawings.
Returning to the process of drawing: say, because you had a change of mind, are there instances whereby you’ve revised lines or details—found in some original drawings—during the making of the real shoes in the factory?
Of course! After the shoes are made, I compare it to the original drawing and sometimes things have to be adjusted.
Do you prefer, in your drawing, sharp or broad lines, or a combination of both and what kind of paper do you use?
The lines depend on the kind of paper I use. I usually use Cartridge paper.
When do you employ colors and what essential role do they play in the overall harmony of your drawings?
Colors play a huge role in my design process. By nature I am always inspired by very bright Mediterranean colors. I grew up with nature and flowers and beautiful landscapes, so that is always conveyed through my shoes.
You use such gorgeous, dainty colors and lines in your drawings. How difficult is it for you to translate all these elements from your drawings to the actual shoes that the women wear about? I love 19th century authors like Balzac who wrote beautiful stories, crisp with details and sentiment. Also Flaubert. In modern times I have always loved Gore Vidal
It is difficult indeed, but we work very hard in the factories to make them look as close as possible to the drawings and the vision in my head. Sometimes what I draw from my imagination cannot be executed exactly identically in real life, so it has to be adjusted to reality.
I love 19th century authors like Balzac who wrote beautiful stories, crisp with details and sentiment. Also Flaubert. In modern times I have always loved Gore Vidal
How often are you not satisfied with the result of translating your fine drawings into practical shoes?
Not very often, but it does happen sometimes. It sounds pedantic, but everything has to be as ideal as possible.
Ingres used to tell his students to draw with their eyes when they cannot do so with a pencil. How do you interpret his instruction and do you sometimes draw with your eyes instead of, say, a brush or pencil?
The way I interpret Ingres’ instruction is for one to draw with more imagination and independence. Most of the time my brush and ink do the job the way I want them to and guide them.
In a certain sense, your shoe drawings are magical, the exact opposite of a painter’s drawing. A painter typically draws a subject in front of him/her. In your own case you draw shoes that have no physical presence. Where do your shoes come from?
I am not a painter and the shoes come straight from my vivid imagination and then become physical.
Over the years, what are the best lessons that you have learned from your detractors; and conversely the worst lessons, if any, that you’ve learned from your champions?
I do not listen to detractors. I am blessed with an absent mind and patience to listen. Conversely, the worst lessons I tend to ignore. The good feedback I listen to and follow the advice of people I admire. Only the true visual lessons are important to me, which are the final product. Most importantly I follow my heart and my own aesthetic convictions.
Is your best work yet to come or have we already seen it?
You have not seen it yet, but sometimes I think that I am very close to it.
Turning away from your shoe drawings, can you possible put your finger on why your shoes are such a phenomenon with women?
I was always mystified by this love affair between women and footwear. I feel that shoes are independent objects. They are much more autonomous than a dress. They have a still life. You don’t have to put them on to see what they will do for you, however, with a dress you have to.
Being the maestro of shoes and having kept at it for a long, long time, how do you manage to continually keep it fresh?
My curiosity drives my creativity and that shows in my designs. I see exhibitions, watch films, read books, observe the people on the street and my mind is continually stimulated and always full of ideas, full of inspiration for new shoes! You told me how shocked you were that a young girl or so, didn’t know about Audrey Hepburn and another woman misunderstood Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s to mean that now, one can actually take breakfast there. How do you bridge this alarming cultural gap with your shoes?My curiosity drives my creativity and that shows in my designs. I don’t think that I can bridge the gap. All I can do is try to encourage people to learn and discover or at least send them to the internet or the library!
Over the years, have there been periods that you were especially more inspired, more creative than, say, other times?
Of course, at certain times I am more inspired than others. However, I cannot think of a particular time in my life.