Designers Dish: Shoe Genius Nicholas Kirkwood Comes to L.A. for Inspiration

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Nicholas Kirkwood and Suki Waterhouse

His intricately detailed shoe designs have appeared on Emilia Clarke, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong'o and Marion Cotillard, to name a few.

London shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood visited Los Angeles in mid-July to show his new collections to stylists and then decided to stick around for a month to gather inspiration for his Fall 2016 collection. Pret-a-Reporter caught up with him over lunch at Cecconi's to see where his very creative head's at — and his feet, of course.

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Pret-a-Reporter: So you've decided to stay around Los Angeles for a while this summer?

Nicholas Kirkwood: Yes. London's never that warm in the summer. Although this is not a hot summer for L.A., is it? The Brits come here for hot hot weather, but I'm not complaining, this is pretty good. I've been here a few times, but never stayed that long. But really, I'm here on what I call "a headspace trip." It's good to go away somewhere to design a new collection. You see all kinds of things to switch it up. The colors here are so different from London and New York, and so is the architecture.

What are you finding so far on your journey?

L.A. is clearly so much more relevant to culture and fashion right now, and I love soaking up the history of L.A. in the '50s, '60s and '70s. The art scene is great. I'm going up to the Getty, but also to the smaller galleries. I also intend to hit every vintage store in town, and to make the trek downtown. I haven't been there in years and I can't wait to get into all the new things that have opened there — stores, restaurants, galleries.

Your shoes, which are quite unique, are making more of an appearance on the red carpet lately.

Yes, it's been a good year for that — though under gowns, it's very hard to see the shoes! You see them better at smaller events like movie premieres and press appearances. Lupita Nyong'o was wearing our shoes with her pearl Oscar dress, and recently, we've made a lot of bespoke shoes to go with black-tie gowns and dresses. This year, we've dressed Marion Cotillard, Victoria Beckham, Blake Lively, Rose Byrne, Emilia Clarke and Gwendoline Christie.

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I understand you're friends with her.

Yes, I met her through friends years ago. Had no idea she was an actress. I didn't put it together until I watched Game of Thrones and there she was.

Your Fall 2015 collection looks fairly inspired by Los Angeles, too.

Yes, we went for sixties-era flower graphics this g-around — some on wedge heels — and some exaggerated circle designs that feel mod. We're doing wedges, kitten heels and flats in so many of our styles now. Women are more conscious of comfort and less tolerant of pain and walking slow now that they've gotten into sneakers on the weekends. Comfort isn't going anywhere. We make a lot of our same styles in flat, kitten and high heels, so there are options in many of the most popular looks. We also did a snow boot for Fall 2015 with our classic chevron pattern. These furry snow boots are really selling well with the retail buyers.

I see you've done Mary Janes for fall. They always seem to come back.

Yes, Mary Janes don't really go away — they're always there. Same for metallics — they're the new neutrals. They accent clothes like jewelry does.

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So it's the 10th anniversary of your company this fall isn't it?

Yes! I want to come back to L.A. and have a party in the fall. And we'll be going into Barneys Beverly Hills next season, so there's a lot to celebrate.

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