Andrew Laguardia high-heel sandal.
York-based shoe designer Paul Andrew already has a
signature pump (the Zenadia), a CFDA Vogue/Fashion Fund
Award, a high-end collection sold at Neiman Marcus and
Net-a-porter and a capsule collection with J.Crew. In the
three years since launching his namesake brand, heís
more than hit his stride.
when it comes to the red carpet, heís still learning,
which is why he brought his collection to Los Angeles for
the first time recently, to meet with the gatekeepers to
glamour: celebrity stylists.
red carpet) is a totally different formula," the
designer said over lunch at the Palihouse in West
Hollywood. "They are ever so specific about the
materials and the colors. You canít have any
embellishment on the toe because it might snag the gown.
Some girls will only wear an ankle strap because they are
afraid the shoe is going to fall off, and some wonít
wear an ankle strap at all."
all the fuss pays off, he says.
we dress celebs, it impacts business not just on a
domestic level but globally," he says. "People
post about it on Instagram, and then you will hear from
retailers they have more requests about that certain
shoe." (Emmy Rossum, January Jones, Kendall Jenner,
Taylor Swift and Gwyneth Paltrow have all worn Paul Andrew
shoes on the red carpet.)
37, was showing styles from his pre-spring 2016
collection, which will hit stores as awards show season is
kicking off toward the end of this year. Inspired by a
recent trip to Hong Kong, the rich lineup features emerald
satin evening wedges; slingbacks in a brocade based on the
print of a vintage cheongsam and flat evening sandals
covered in milky jade Swarovski crystals.
one thing you will never see from Andrew is a shoe a woman
cannot walk in.
the time I was launching my brand, everyone was wearing
staggeringly high platforms. Shoes felt so vulgar, and my
personal preference has always been for a single sole,
light, elegant shoe. I thought, ĎThis has got to be
coming back. I have to launch it now,í" says
Andrew, who spent 15 years designing shoes for other
brands before launching his own in September 2012.
setting out to start his line, he did a survey of 500
women around the world, "because part of what I
disliked was seeing women walking down the street
hobbling. Thereís nothing less sexy than a woman who canít
walk in her shoes. And so many shoes in the market now are
built according to measurements established in the 1970s.
Today, so many people are doing sports and wearing
sneakers all the time, the anatomy of peopleís feet has
survey involved scanning peopleís feet, including the
arch, the width and the length of toes. "In general,
people are much wider than they were and the foot size is
much bigger," says Andrew, whose shoes are designed
in Manhattan, and made in Italy and Spain. "Weíre
now cutting up to a (European) size 43 (size 12 in the
U.S.), which is unheard of."
hails from the rural English town of Maidenhead, close to
Windsor. His father was the upholsterer to the British
royal family. "He had a workshop in our house where
he spent all this time with these amazing brocades. So of
course Iím drawn to those fabrics."
Andrew was studying at the Berkshire College of Art &
Design (now Reading College), a professor encouraged him
to concentrate on footwear, pointing out that the shoe
business was growing exponentially, and there would be an
opportunity for designers.
1999, after Andrew won Londonís Graduate Fashion Week, a
charity event that showcases the work of 1,000 design
students, the London buyer Yasmin Sewell bought his
graduate collection for her store, Yasmin Cho. She
introduced the young designer to several big names in the
London fashion scene, including Alexander McQueen, where
Andrew apprenticed for his first job.
after, a Vogue editor in New York suggested he move across
the Atlantic, where a number of big American brands were
looking for accessory designers. He launched footwear for
Narciso Rodriguez and worked as the head of shoes and bags
for Donna Karan (resin heels with stars inspired by
mosques was a highlight there) and Calvin Klein (where his
mid-heel biker boots were a hit on the runway).
made a lot of mistakes on other peopleís dollar,"
Andrew says. "Shoemaking is a craft you need to
learn, not just something you can do. I hand-make every
pattern, every heel, every last. You donít have that
skill set when you come out of school."
his lineís first season, he was able to sell to Saks
Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York. The collection, $445 to
$1,395, is also available at Neiman Marcus and
on, his Zenadia pump, with its wing-like topline detail,
became a signature. "Itís a versatile shoe, in that
it can take many materials well, and the winged detail
holds you in if youíre narrow, and if youíre wide, it
gets your bunion to stay in the shoe," he says.
also sells a lot of slingbacks, which he offers in five
heel heights. "Iíve tried to perfect the fit and
the tension of the elastic. You see too many women with
slingbacks falling down. Itís not nice-looking."
J.Crew CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund capsule collection in
stores now features riffs on some of his most popular
styles, including a pair of fringed gladiators, priced
from $398 to $598. Next up for Andrew is launching his own
e-commerce site and his first menís collection later
also quite taken with designing around a single city as
inspiration. The fall 2015 collection landing soon is
inspired by New York City: skyline-embroidery on a disco
boot, Chrysler Building spire-as-a-heel and more.
LA someday capture his imagination? Says Andrew, "It
could very well."