In Her Shoes: A Chat With British Model Laura Bailey

AP Images
Laura Bailey at the 2015 Oscars.

As if being a contributing editor at British Vogue and cultural ambassador for the British Fashion Council didn't keep her busy enough, Bailey also found time to design a 11-piece shoe collection for British designer L.K. Bennett.

Laura Bailey isn't necessarily a household name stateside, but with a bevy of insider fashion credentials under her belt in the UK and her latest creative collaboration with iconic British brand L.K. Bennett (a go-to label for Kate Middleton), we suspect that might change.

As cultural ambassador for the British Fashion Council, contributing editor at British Vogue, brand ambassador for Chanel and muse to the likes of Alice Temperley and Bella Freud, the model-writer and as The Coveteur put it so succinctly, "British fashion royalty," is clearly poised for more attention in the U.S.

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With the recent launch of her 11-piece shoe collection for L.K. Bennett (priced between $325 to $495), which launched in March in the UK, we chatted with Bailey about how vintage print bathing suits make great style inspiration, why she’s obsessed with white footwear, and why she chose her shoes before her dress for this year's Oscars.

Pret-a-Reporter: How did the Laura Bailey and L.K. Bennett collaboration come about?

Laura Bailey: Last September I was invited to collaborate with LKB on a capsule collection for spring/summer — my summer holiday memories and fantasies were still crystal-clear, inspiring a fast, clear vision of what I'd love to create, and my confidence was boosted thanks to my friends and predecessors, Caroline Issa and Rosamund Pikewho did projects with the brand over the last couple of years.

LKB is a much-beloved British brand and the opportunity felt like the right fit at the right time. I love the teamwork and apprenticeship of collaboration, and took faith and inspiration from the very first meetings with the team, whose technical and marketing expertise I leaned on, whilst relishing the freedom they gave me to be true to my passions and desires. We worked hard and fast from the earliest mood boards through the sampling process to the shoot, and it's thrilling now to see my collection on the feet of the women I love.

Laura Bailey x LK Bennett Virna flat

What is your favorite shoe in the collection and why?

Although I'm a high heels girl at heart, the Virna flats in white with stripy cross-straps are my current favorite shoe for spring. I wanted the collection to be practical as well as chic, and these are my ideal sandal apres-beach, or simply cycling to work in London. For me, they evoke a carefree holiday spirit, at home or away. Plus, I've long had a thing for a white shoe — stiletto or otherwise.

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You've collaborated with some of the biggest names in fashion — why LKB and shoes?

I can't resist a challenge and I love the design process. And I liked the idea of bringing a very personal and different point of view to the classic styles the brand is known and loved for. I also love the idea of creative worlds colliding — a travel story I'm writing or shooting, leading to something I can actually make and wear, the ultimate souvenir. Whether I'm writing for Vogue, or simply modeling someone else's clothes, I'm inspired by the team and the story. And sometimes, as with this project, the dots (or stripes) connect. I work with many different brands, from Chanel to Bella Freud, and a conversation between women around desire is usually the starting point.

What was your favorite part of designing the collection?

I'm a magpie collector of inspiration, so the early mood boarding is a natural high as a story begins to emerge. I looked at my own snapshots of Amalfi Coast adventures, Antonioni film stills, vintage print swimsuits I found on eBay, and antique ribbons from a favourite stall on Portobello Road, as well as revisiting my own shoe collection and rediscovering old loves. Later, favourite moments include trying on the early samples, drawing and trimming, and finally, the thrill as it all come together for the campaign shoot with Jon Gorrigan.

Favorite shoes for a Sunday afternoon?

Espadrilles or Nikes in the park with my kids.

Saturday night?

My Claudia heels for LKB. With old favorite Saint Laurent red shorts and a Miu Miu blouse.

Day in the office?

My navy and red Silvana heel, probably kicked off as I like to work barefoot.

If we looked right now, what would we see in your shoe closet?

My daughter, hiding inside, shouting "I hate dresses."

What’s your favorite pair of shoes you've worn on the red carpet?

Charlotte Olympia glitter platform heels to the Oscars 2015, with navy lace Chanel Couture. The ultimate party shoe for Hollywood and beyond. I knew which shoes I'd wear before I even thought about a dress.

Shoes you want to be buried in?

None – barefoot!

The Laura Bailey footwear collection for L.K. Bennett is available at L.K. Bennett at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles.

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