You see a pair of heels. They don’t so much encase the foot as wrap around it in alienous beauty. And you know they must be Kirkwoods.
Nicholas Kirkwood has created some highly recognisable signature shapes. Shapes that have been much copied. Shapes that have influenced shoe styles far and wide, a commendable feat from someone who seemingly burst out of nowhere in an explosion of architectural futurism that was so fresh you couldn’t help but take notice. Since then Kirkwood has played with variations on those same shapes; interesting and beautiful techniques, to be sure, but looking through his latest look book for Spring 2011 it forms in your mind that perhaps it’s time for something new.
It’s not that Kirkwood’s signature shapes aren’t great ones, nor is that alienous beauty any less impressive. But once something has been copied and thus cheapened, for want of a better word, the only real thing to do is move on, to evolve to some new place. Flicking through the look book some more we do start to see the beginning of that. Moving beyond the examples where those same shapes are reinterpreted with some feminine lace, some bold pops of colour, or digital prints, we see some new types of heel that jut sideways out from the base of the shoe and end in a tiny stiletto point. There’s also some kitten heels with a thick woodstack platform that sway towards the oriental revival we’ve been hinting at.
But where things really take a turn to something different it’s actually in Kirkwood’s collaborations with other brands. The china blue mules with ornately carved wedge heels, along with their embossed leather siblings, are part of Kirkwood’s offering for Rodarte. The brightly coloured pairs with ballerina ties are unmistakably Erdem, while the freshly hollow-heeled sandals at the very end of the gallery are for Peter Pilotto.
Despite a mildly disoriented feeling of not quite knowing where it’s headed to, Kirkwood’s spring 2011 collection holds some gems. One of his shapes is given a clean, minimal update in nude leather and black and white piping for an almost mod effect (one direction to pursue further, perhaps?); the feminine lace pairs will see plenty of custom; and a classic pump reimagined in half suede half snakeskin, separated by a cutaway strip, is a favourite of mine.
Worth perusing in full, you can check out all of Nicolas Kirkwood‘s spring 2011 collection by clicking on the gallery.