As design schools around the world unleash the future of fashion, we catch up with graduate Guillem Turro Casanovas. He's part of a new wave of footwear designers intent on creating a future that pays hommage to the past.
How did you become involved in footwear design? I remember being very young and fascinated with my mother’s shoes —’80s icons such as Genny, Maud Frizon, Diego Della Valle’s eponymous brand—which made me start drawing them obsessively. When I finished high school, I was not aware there was a degree at London College of Fashion to become a Shoe Designer, so I studied Graphic Design in Barcelona, which taught me incredibly valuable aesthetic lessons. By the time I graduated, I had heard about the Cordwainers’ programme so I applied straight away and this July I finished my second BA.
What do you love most about footwear design? As I see it, a shoe is the most precious fashion item. Not all garments modify the way a woman moves and to me, that is the tremendous difference. Whether it’s sliding in lush flats or trotting in sky-high heels, a lady always makes an impression because of the shoes she is wearing. I love being able to contribute to that.
What are some of the greatest design challenges you face? I am a great believer of John Storey’s theories about Postmodernity and popular culture. He wrote, “Rather than a culture of pristine creativity, postmodern culture is a culture of quotiationsm,” and I do agree with the cliche that everything has already been done. I don’t mean that in a negative way, I mean that when I struggle most is when I try too hard to come up with something extremely new and innovative. Then I realize that the most successful way to design shoes is by being nourished by what has been done in the past. Reinventing, giving things a new form and meaning... I think that is the best way to come up with interesting shoes. I also believe relevant shoe designs should have a story behind then. Coming up with a beautiful, comfortable, eye catching and/or sellable shoe should not be enough. My goal is for my shoes to tell a story, be a memory, pay an hommage... I like to think my final collection at Cordwainers achieved that by quoting the gay heroes of the 1980s.
Do you believe in style over comfort, or can the two co-exist? I think style and comfort can co-exist. Especially if we consider a broader concept of comfort rather than just the physical. Some women might need a push of empowerment when they step in a social or professional context, and maybe a very anatomically uncomfortable heel gives her that. She might achieve a status of serenity and comfort even if her feet hurt the next day. All I want is her happily choosing the shoe for that occasion, because it is what she needs. That is why it is so important to have a broad range on offer—flats, mid, wedges, high—and I hope I managed to do that with my graduation collection at LCF.
What’s next on your footwear to-do list? Currently, I am happily employed in Amsterdam, and I think that is what I want to do for quite a while; to be a proactive member of the Footwear Industry by working for a company. The adventure of starting your own label is a major step and quite frightening for me considering—as I see it—the already saturated “High-End Contemporary Young Designer” market. If I ever take that step, it will be because I have much greater work experience and someone to back up the project. GuillemTurroCasanovas.com — JULIA STUART