Interview: Shoe Designer Paul Andrew on New York Fashion

In Paul Andrew‘s world, style starts from the ground-up. This handsome, tasteful Brit””who honed his talents as shoe designer for Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Narciso Rodriguez, and Alexander McQueen””has called New York his home for the better part of two decades. With the 2013 launch of his eponymous shoe line, he became a powerful fashion presence all his own, creating impeccably constructed, comfortable shoes with sought-after silhouettes and in sumptuous materials. This year he won the coveted CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award, prompting style-setters across the globe to slip into his slingbacks (and sandals, and fringed boots, and “Zenadia” pumps with their sophisticated winged peaks).

Paul Andrew Creates a Well-Heeled Manhattan

Shoe designer Paul Andrew, who won the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize in 2014.

© Seth Sabal

“When I started my line in 2013, there was a need for refinement in the marketplace,” Andrew says. “It was very much about the hard-looking platform heel at the time, and women I know tend to be far more feminine than that.” Andrew put his years of expertise and unparalleled mentorship to work, sourcing the finest materials, enlisting Italy’s top tanneries, experimenting with methods of construction, and allowing his imagination to run wild. Always the innovator, with his top-tier artisan connections in tow, Andrew incorporates hidden cushions within his shoes and is obsessed with proper fit. “It became tiring to watch women limp down the street in their shoes,” he says. “I want my shoes to work for every occasion in a woman’s life.”

Paul Andrew Creates a Well-Heeled Manhattan

Coveted new styles from Paul Andrew’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection. © Paul Andrew/Steven Sebring

His efforts made waves. Paul Andrew shoes, worn by Lupita Nyong’o, were declared the best of the 2014 Golden Globes by WWD. Andrew snagged top honours at “Who is on Next,” the renowned Italian accessories competition. Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, and more of the world’s great retailers ordered and reordered his enthusiastically received styles. And then came the aforementioned CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award””its significant monetary boost ($300,000 to be exact); the support of luminaries such as Anna Wintour, Franca Sozzani, and Diane von Furstenberg; and a seismic shift in name recognition. “The Fashion Fund allowed me to identify what I stand for,” Andrew enthuses. “I’m proud to have been the competition’s first British winner, the first shoe designer to win, the youngest brand to win. To be declared the winner was an incredible honour.”

Paul Andrew Creates a Well-Heeled Manhattan | Zenadia

Paul Andrew’s golden Zenadia high heel pump from his Fall 2014 collection. © Paul Andrew

Now that his brand is rocketing skyward, Andrew plans to expand his style offerings, venture into men’s shoes and accessories, and set-up brick-and-mortar boutiques. Yet amidst the buzz, Andrew maintains his focus on the guiding principles of his creative voice. “I feel it’s my duty as a shoe designer to add to the fit and comfort of my customers”¦ It’s my gift to women,” he says. “And above all I want to contribute designs that are chic, elegant, and joyful. I insist that there be fun behind everything I do.”

Paul Andrew Creates a Well-Heeled Manhattan

Eye-catching Arta block heel sandals from Paul Andrew’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection. © Paul Andrew/Steven Sebring

Keen to explore New York’s world-renowned fashion scene? Take a look at some of Paul Andrew’s favourite New York contemporaries:

 

  • “I have great respect for Joseph Altuzarra. His award-winning collections are influenced by his multicultural upbringing, yet feel so contemporary and perfect for the woman of now. His is an enormous talent, yet he remains so humble. For the presentation of my shoes to the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund judges, I dressed my models exclusively in his dresses.” 
  • “Fellow Brit and New York-based shoe designer Tabitha Simmons is creating beautiful, fashion-forward footwear in bold animal prints and metallic skins for the “it” girl about town.”
  • “Brett Heyman is creating uniquely beautiful evening clutches under the label Edie Parker. For Paul Andrew shoes, I’m dedicated to Italian, handmade craftsmanship, and Brett’s bags follow suit; the custom-made cases are built from acrylic and hand-poured in the United States to ensure optimum quality.” 
  • Tim Coppens, a personal favourite for menswear, has steadily created a name for himself as the go-to designer for clothes with a modern, tailored sportswear-inspired sensibility. Having worked with Adidas and Ralph Lauren before launching his own label, he is now firmly part of the New York fashion scene.” 

Paul Andrew Creates a Well-Heeled Manhattan | Tim Coppens

Elevated runway looks from designer Tim Coppens, one of Paul Andrew’s favourites. © Tim Coppens

With multiple daily flights to New York from London, it couldn’t be easier to book your holiday with Virgin Atlantic.

 

What are your favourite New York fashion designers? Are you a fan of Paul Andrew’s chic shoe designs? Ley us know in the comments section below.

 

Written by Andrew Stone 

About Andrew Stone

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Andrew Stone covers architecture and design for Interior Design magazine and is the former editor-in-chief of Los Angeles Confidential. A busy bee within the worlds of culture, style, and dining, he has interviewed celebrities and hot shots aplenty for various publications. Stone nurtures his two-decade love affair with his city as the resident Manhattan reporter for Hg2.com. Stone is the author of both Hg2 New York and Hg2 Los Angeles. What makes him a hedonist? "The desire to have firsthand knowledge of life's great offerings."
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