the four years since establishing her
eccentrically English, namesake shoe line, Tabitha
Simmons has earned quite a following. The
"Bailey" is a snadal bootie from her
fall/winter 2013 collection.
ANGELES ó Beyonce loves her striped Dolly espadrille
lace-ups so much that she posted photos of them on
Tumblr, while the Early moto boots are a go-to for
the four years since establishing her eccentrically
English, namesake shoe line, Tabitha Simmons has earned
quite a following.
a model turned stylist and shoe designer, hails from
Britain, where she actually got her start in the shoe
business as a teenager, working Saturday afternoons at
Oliverís Shoes. Now she lives in New York City with
her husband, fashion photographer Craig McDean, and
their two sons.
her adopted home, she has received much love from the
Council of Fashion Designers of America, winning the
2012 Swarovski Award for Accessory Design and being
named a runner-up for the 2012 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund
Award. Simmons, whose Tabitha Simmons Collection starts
at about $395 and is available at Saks Fifth Avenue and
other major department stores, recently teamed up with
L.A.-based philanthropic brand Toms on styles
incorporating her signature silks, which are available
for $124 to $168 at Toms.com.
the way home from this fallís showing of spring 2014
collections ó during which Simmons styled the Tory
Burch runway show in New York, the Dolce & Gabbana
runway show in Milan and showed her own collection in
Paris ó she stopped in L.A. for an event at Saks Fifth
Avenue in Beverly Hills. There, she shared with
customers her fall collection, inspired by English
gardens, and her resort collection, which mixes preppy
shirt stripes and Peruvian color and print.
chatted with Simmons about her inspirations, how many
shoes she has in her closet and the story behind the
shoe named after Alexa Chung.
When you started your line, what were you not seeing out
there that you wanted to see?
At the time, shoes had gotten really extreme. Platforms
got higher and higher with as much as possible piled on
them. Being a fashion stylist, I wanted shoes that were
more timeless, a little quieter and seasonless. Ö And
I still see people wear shoes of mine from the first
season, which to me says they are doing their job,
standing the test of time.
Do you think that it was the Alexander McQueen effect,
shoes getting so extreme?
Maybe. His shoes were like pieces of art. I used to
How many do you have?
About 20 or 30 pairs of McQueen. I have about 400 pairs
of shoes total. But shoes always revitalize things. If I
buy a new pair of shoes, my wardrobe all of a sudden
becomes new again.
Was it a big learning curve to learn how to make shoes?
Weíre coming up on four years since we started, and I
still feel like Iím at the kidsí table.
One of the styles youíre known for is a Mary Jane in
mixed menswear-inspired tie silks.
For me, in terms of personal style, I always like
something thatís a little menswear-inspired, a white
shirt or a menís jacket with a very feminine dress,
for example. I also always try to bring in English
influences to my work, and all that tie silk is woven in
England by a seventh-generation silk-weaving company
called Stephen Walters & Sons.
Your flat moto boots, the Early boots, are another style
that carries over from season to season. They kind of
look like Beatle boots.
Yes. And weíve tried to make them airport-friendly, so
they have snaps underneath the buckles. I also have a
Victorian collage boot with elastic behind the buttons
so they are easy to take off.
Is comfort important?
It is the thing. Maybe itís being a woman designer.
There have been many times where Iíve just had to take
my shoes off and kick them under the table. Iím a
mother and I style standing on set for 10-12 hours a
day. But I still want fashion. If itís not
comfortable, Iím back in the factory.
The pointy-toed Alexa flat is something youíve done
several iterations of as well ó in black-and-white
leather and now for fall in red velvet. Itís kind of
the anti-ballet flat, right?
Well, I heard the call for flat shoes. But everyone had
a ballet flat out there in the market already. So I
thought, ĎWhat can a little Tabitha say amidst all
these ballet flats?í And thatís when I went, ĎOK,
weíll do a flat point.í I was wearing them on a
shoot with Alexa Chung, and she said she liked them, so
I named them after her, and I hope she doesnít mind!