Nicholas Kirkwood is firmly on a path to become his generation’s globally acknowledged leading shoe designer. Kirkwood decided to launch his own, eponymous brand in 2005, whereby his designs were defined by daring innovation in the use of unconventional materials and techniques that married high craft and tradition with the cutting edge of technology and the unexpected. This technical innovation, together with an aesthetic boldness, dynamism, graphic edge and feminine sensibility, became the signatures of Nicholas Kirkwood’s output. Often experimenting with contrasts and tensions, tradition and tech, nature and artifice, fluid femininity and harder-edged masculinity, the designer’s shoes playfully subvert expectations and present a new kind of aesthetic luxury in footwear.
Many of the foundations for this position in the industry were laid by Kirkwood’s attendance of London’s Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design and Cordwainers College, where he learnt the craft of shoemaking. Through that component of his course, Kirkwood became aware of the ‘excitement of a movement’ as well as artists embracing ‘a coolness in their manufactured edge,’ principles he would later apply to his own label and collection collaborations with other designers and organisations. After gaining a cult following and attracting attention from the likes of Isabella Blow, Grace Jones, Cecilia Dean and Daphne Guinness, Nicholas Kirkwood as a brand began to flourish. Collaborating with high profile London based design peers such as Erdem, Roksanda and duo Peter Pilotto, the global awareness of the brand excelled, where international associations with the likes of Fendi, Zac Posen and Phillip Lim were to follow.
In the last decade, Kirkwood’s designs have gone from cult appeal to entering a wider consciousness and proving instantly recognisable. In May 2011 Kirkwood opened his flagship store on Mount Street, in London’s Mayfair area, the first of his generation of designers to do so.
The brand has won numerous awards, including the British Fashion Award for Best Accessory Designer of the year three times and in 2013 being the first accessories designer to be awarded the British Fashion Council / Vogue Designer Fashion Fund since its inception.
In September 2013 Nicholas Kirkwood announced his partnership with LVMH: the biggest luxury goods conglomerate in the world. This was an audacious and significant move on the part of LVMH, investing and concentrating on a long-term partnership with a young accessories designer and his brand.
In 2015 Nicholas Kirkwood celebrated both the label and the designer’s first ten years in the fashion business with a playful collection: ‘Kirkwood 10’. A personal and iconoclastic offering, the ‘10’ collection looked to the child-like excitement surrounding games, toys and films of the late 1980s. From Pac-Man to Star Wars and arcade games in general, the inspirations all touched influences on Kirkwood himself when he was 10 years old. Both celebrating and subverting the idea of ‘couture footwear’, the collection worked to present an ideology of the revolutionary styles that are to come from Nicholas Kirkwood in the future.
2016 saw Kirkwood completely redesign his flagship store on Mount Street in Mayfair in collaboration with spatial designer Robert Storey.