Looks can be deceiving, particularly when it comes to a Jochen Kronier creation. Believe it or not, these boots were made for walking—or perhaps “strutting” is a more appropriate word. So how did this Germany native find his way into the world of heavenly heel design? Well, it all started in the ’80s, says Kronier.
“My first kick about high heels happened in Paris in 1984 at the age of 16,” says Kronier. “I happened to meet a punk girl in a nightclub that looked like the devil herself, with mega high heel boots in black shiny leather. She walked in those shoes like walking on a cloud. She even slept in them!”
Kronier owes that devilish girl a huge thank you for exposing him to heavenly heights. He never forgot about those heels and soon became obsessed with footwear design. In 1993, the performer, hair and costume designer was working on stage with numerous shows. After a number of unsuccessful attempts to find flamboyant boots for his size 12 foot, he took a stab at creating his own.
“Finding crazy shoes in size 12 was not easy in 1993. Making shoes was the last challenge to creating the whole outfit from head to toe. In a wonderful, fantastic party in Amsterdam, I had the idea to start making my own. Two days later, I started.”
As with every designer, Kronier has honed his craft over the years, watching his creations grow in complexity and technical know-how. “The first shoes I created looked a little simple,” says Kronier. “But the second ones went much higher and wilder. From that time on, I couldn’t stop creating them.” But it wasn’t just Kronier who began to benefit from this moment of design inspiration, soon he had accrued a long list of loyal costumers longing for a custom-made Kronier creation—working on creations for shows by Theirry Mugler and Lady Gaga.
When it comes to design, however, it’s important not to judge a Kronier boot by its cover. His designs may appear to be horribly painful to walk in, but the designer is big on comfort unlike many designers in the industry. “The fashion industry does not care about comfort,” he says. “The designer, the one who draws the creations on paper first, never wears the high heels or platforms they designed. The girls on the catwalk have to run in them up and down—in pain! The fact that I walk in my shoes makes a big difference to me; in how I can make them comfortable.”
In 1995, after his fourth pair of shoes was created, Kronier sought advice from an orthopedic shoe maker about creating long lasting balance, protection and comfort. “I want the wearer to feel like a superstar from another planet taking a walk on earth,” says Kronier. In his colorful life, there is no shortage of inspiration from nightlife and music to people and places. But with such dedication to the craft and comfort, will there ever be a ready-to-wear Kronier collection for the masses?
“I love unique things,” says Kronier. “Every person on this plant is unique, so are the shoes that I create for my clients. Some of my designs could be produced for fashion, and the market around it, but when it comes to product design, most of the time designs have to be cut down to make it suitable for the masses, which destroys the fun and freedom of creating. I could imagine designing specific shoes for mass production, but I love unique things...”
Though he has a long list of ideas, Kronier is looking to keep his designs in the entertainment industry where the need for unique creations is in high demand. “My head is so full of ideas that it drives me nuts sometimes,” says Kronier. “I think I have to become 200 years old to have the time to create all that’s in my mind.” In the meantime we shall keep our eyes open for a glimpse of another Kronier creation on stage somewhere in the world. — NIGEL ISAIAH