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Nicholas Kirkwood

The footwear designer tells Emily Norval what he’ll do with a prize fund of £200,000 and how the art world inspires his collections.

How did it feel to win the British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund this year and how will you use the £200,000 prize?

I was thrilled and it was a great honour to be part of such a strong shortlist of talent. The night itself was overwhelming and quite emotional; being awarded the funding will enable us to realise our plans to develop the brand globally. We are looking to expand our retail business and build on our current product offering. As well as this, we will make some key hires.

You recently showed your first men’s collection at London Collections: Men (LCM)- why did you decide now was the time?

I originally started designing men’s footwear prior to launching my women’s line, so it’s always been something I wanted to work on. It felt like the right time for the brand and LCM provided the perfect opportunity.

Do you prefer designing for men or women?

They are both challenging in different ways. At the moment the men’s styles are really exciting.

What can we expect from your autumn 13 women’s collection?

I’ve been looking at textures, laces, embellishment and key new boot silhouettes.

You started off as a milliner, working for Philip Treacy. When did you decide footwear was your passion?

While I was working with Philip, I noticed women would come by the store looking for styles to work with their outfits and footwear. The footwear wasn’t particularly exciting though and I noticed a real gap in the market for designer, specialised heels. The craftsmanship and technical aspects of footwear also really appealed to me.

You’re known for your creative designs - how do you maintain that level of creativity? What inspires you?

Sometimes it’s hard to be inspired but I find I’m most creative on weekends or after work hours when I can lock myself away in the studio to draw. For inspiration, I commonly look to the art world - the likes of Keith Haring and Dale Chihuly have inspired recent collections.

What are your favourite and least favourite styles of shoe?

A heel can change a woman’s posture and overall confidence so my favourite shoe is something with a little bit of height, a heeled strappy sandal. My least favourite would be the nude pump but there is definitely a market for it, and I’m guilty of making them too.

What is your favourite pair of shoes that you own?

I don’t own many shoes, so my new Kirkwoods from the men’s line are the new favourite. I think I’ve ordered one of each of the styles.

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