EXCLUSIVE INTVW: ELIZABETH DUNN


“All In Stride” 
a conversation with Elizabeth Dunn
by INKEN BORNHOLDT
for Dam, Stuhltrager
 

DS: When did you discover you harbored an affection for shoes?

ED: After discovering Design - I knew it was what I was going to do. I started with Womenswear; then fell perfectly in love with Footwear.

DS: Your Footwear love has translated into a thriving career. You are in your 20’s and have produced several successful lines of shoes. What is the biggest challenge in your design and production process? 
 
ED: Sometimes one can get lost in the production - as the actual vision really materializes at the end of the process… Seeing it come to fruition is the payoff. It is satisfying knowing I created with my own hands something my mind dreamed up. This is the most rewarding component of my work. 

DS: Do you have an especially sentimental or favorite design – a golden moment – in your young but prolific career?

ED: My “flower” shoe (A/W 10 Collection) was the first piece I felt fully captured what type of designer I am. That specific design encompasses classic influences while earnestly embracing contemporary, conceptual, organic silhouettes. I see it as a visual transformation between two influences. Physically, “flower” can be worn in 3 ways. 

DS: How do you address sustainability or lay tracks for a future in this industry?

ED: My shoes are built for longevity and sustainability. I search out and incorporate high quality materials. My designs are intended to mirror the concepts paramount in the construction - I avoid throwaway fashion in every element. I bypass one season trends and focus on making a timeless statement to last a life time.

DS: Your S/S 12 collection embodies a passion for Art and the work of Gustav Klimt. As an artist, how are your aesthetics influenced by other artists? 

ED: I gain the most inspiration from looking outside the fashion world. I appreciate artists who can convey the simple, eloquent details of their subject that are usually hidden. The more pleasantly unusual the better…

Klimt’s work is a real treat for the eye. Klimt’s sense of colour, his play on curves, and of course his patterns… In my latest collection, I shared things that define Klimt’s paintings as wonderful in my eyes. It was important to me to show his influence in a tactile, yet personal way. I created drawings inspired from his paintings which were then laser cut into leathers.

S/S KLIMT CAPSULE COLLECTION by E. Dunn, 2011.
DS: Have you coordinated your shoes with garments or accessories from other designers?

ED: At present, I’m collaborating with a womenswear designer called House of Sunny. House of Sunny collections are feminine but playful and vibrate great energy full of ideas. We will be unveiling new works for London Fashion Week, February 2012… But diligent viewers can catch a preview in September.

DS: London is a thriving and distinctive art capitol and is where you’re based. Does London’s own distinguishable style influence you on a creative level? 

ED: I thrive off London. I’ve lived here 4 years and still constantly find surprising inspirations spanning different mediums. There's always bright light in a city that never sleeps. You never know what's round the corner.
Dress - House of Sunny
Shoes - Elizabeth Dunn
Model - Ella Cardiff

DS: I did not meet you in London. We met in Berlin, where you were in the exhibit I co-curated, “WEAR IS ART”. How do you compare London to Berlin?
 
ED: As a creative city, Berlin is a great. Berlin is slower paced than London which I think is a good thing. If I had the chance I’d move there straightaway – I love love LOVE Berlin.

DS: How was exhibiting in a gallery for WEAR IS ART different or similar to being in a fashion show?

E. Dunn at WEAR IS ART. Photo by Falko Siewert & Jennifer Posener, 2011. Courtesy of Dam Stuhltrager.
ED: As we were talking about earlier, I feel akin to Art. I’ve lived with a lot of artists in London. Exhibiting my shoes as Art makes sense to me. I make them by hand and consider all the things a painter or sculpture would in creating.  Footwear takes on many forms in design and presentation… And it can be appreciated in different ways. I like to mix it up.

DS: What has been one of the most memorable experiences in your design career?

ED: Apart from exhibiting in Berlin, Fashion Week was an honor. To be scouted to showcase so early in my career was humbling and meaningful. I see these opportunities as the chance to really show people what I can do, who I am as a Footwear designer.

Flower A/W 10 by E Dunn, 2010.

DS: What is on the horizon for Elizabeth Dunn Footwear?

ED: London Fashion Week is coming up in February 2012. I will be here with a bigger and better collection in a show that will blow your socks off!

Find Elizabeth Dunn Online:
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Elizabeth Dunn Footwear

All Photos copyright of Elizabeth Dunn unless otherwise noted.

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