SEA CHANGE: DESIGNER KERMIT TESORO

You won’t find Kermit Tesoro’s heels in your local mall—just as you won’t find a Picasso in any old home goods store. Tesoro’s designs are pieces of wearable art that challenge our preconceived notions of footwear design.

Hailing from the Philippines, Tesoro first became involved in footwear while searching for shoes to match his clothing designs. Finding inspiration in personal experience and a new found design awareness, it makes sense that Tesoro fell into footwear design in such a natural way. For Tesoro, shoes are “the exclamation point of our clothing sentence.”
At twenty seven, Tesoro already has a plethora of accomplishments and acclaim to his name. He is renowned for his unique designs, and is a favorite amongst celebrities—including Lady Gaga. His shoes can be spotted at Spielzeug Welten Museum Basel in Switzerland and at MoBA Netherlands, in fashion publications, and Rockstar Chic, a trendy coffee table book on fashion in New York.

“In my opinion, I think the real challenge is outmaneuvering my comfort design sensibility,” says Tesoro. Clearly, Tesoro’s designs are not for those looking for a simple, everyday shoe. The heels he creates are special and bursting with personality. Take his “Oil Spiller” heel, which is featured in Rockstar Chic. “Oil Spiller” looks like the type of heel worn by a fashion editor in a post-apocalyptic world. It sports a large platform that stretches out towards the back of the shoe. This genius design compensates for the lack of an actual heel that extends to the ground, offering stability and balance. Made of leather and acrylic, the heel legitimately looks like dripping oil—it’s absolutely mesmerizing.    

Perhaps his most famous and recognizable heel is the “Polyposis,” made of wood. “Polyposis” is truly a work of art—and the perfect summer-inspired heavenly heel. It’s designed to look like the tentacles of an octopus are organically wrapping around the foot. Painted in jewel tones to match the richness of a deep blue ocean, the shoes even feature painted suckers. There are no extra straps or supports besides the sculpted tentacles; those serving as the platform, upper and heel.

“The idea of Polypodis has always been inside my mind,” says Tesoro. “But I was clueless where to begin and how to compose my imagination to reality without compromising the expression. I think, if you love a pair of shoes enough, you’ll find a way to wear then.”

Heel lovers can get an inside peak into Tesoro’s creative process by following his Instagram, @kermittesoro, where the designer posts progress pictures from concept to construction.

Tesoro is currently working on new designs, but is in no rush to debut them. Like a true artist knows, art cannot be forced and it cannot be rushed; the designs will be ready when they’re ready. Although unsure of what the designs will be and where the inspiration will come from this time, one thing that can be counted on is that innovation is sure to be included. When asked if his designs were meant to be worn or admired, Tesoro answered perfectly, “I’ll just leave it to the audience.” — Kelly Armetta

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