Runway to Reality
Last week, I had a chance to chat via email with one of my favorite shoe designers, Jean-Michel Cazabat. A rising star in the world of foot fashion, Cazabat's contemporary line of pretty pumps, beautiful booties and stunning sandals run from $250-$400 and can be found at Neiman Marcus.
I already own three pairs of his shoes, and I am desperate for more. His pieces are comfortable, well-made and have the uncanny ability to make your feet (yes, I said feet) look pretty damn sexy. I urge you to check out his spring/summer 2012 collection and grab a pair for yourself. You won't regret it, and I swear your feet will thank you.
CultureMap: What are your favorite fabrics and materials to work with when designing shoes? Do you have a favorite shoe silhouette?
Jean-Michel Cazabat: I like to work with glitter, snake, and pony with animal print. Also it is always nice to create an exciting color-block story. For a silhouette I love the peep-toe pump; it is always sexy on a woman’s foot.
CM: You recently opened your flagship store in NYC. Tell me about your experience in finding a location, setting up the boutique and opening your first store. Any challenges or funny stories?
JMC: We were looking for spaces on Bleecker Street for a very long time because we loved that particular street and after negotiating for more than 6 months at another location on the street, the deal didn’t happen. This turned out to be a blessing for us because a few months later we found the location we are in today, 350 Bleecker, and we love it, so it all worked out!
The funny thing is, I used to live two blocks away (from what is now my store) 15 years ago and came to 350 Bleecker, which at the time was a Kim’s Video, almost daily because they carried the coolest cult and foreign films. Seems like fate!
CM: While you grew up in the French countryside, you are now living the life in Manhattan. How would you say the two environments have influenced your collections? Would you consider yourself more of a city or country guy?
JMC: I Love NYC. I also really enjoy going back to my countryside in France for holidays but I need the energy and excitement of the Big Apple to be able to function with a creative point of view. I will say I’m a New Yorker from the southwest of France!
CM: I have several pairs of JMC’s and love them all. You have this innate ability to design shoes that actually make feet look sexy. How do you do it?!
JMC: Thank you! The secret is to take time to think and create a product that your customers will always feel proud to wear and that make them feel confident and sexy.
CM: We’d love to see you in Texas. Any plans to make it down south in the next year? What travel do you have planned in 2012?
JMC: You Never know…I may make a personal appearance at Neiman Marcus sometime in the near future! My travel schedule is already planned with a lot of coming trips including Paris, Milan, Alicante in Spain, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Pekin, Los Angeles, etc.
I will be in Kenya, Bali and Ibiza for the holiday break (I think it is so important to take a break in order to recharge your energy and creativity).
CM: What’s the one piece of advice that stuck with you and encouraged you to get where you are today? Who gave it to you?
JMC: Never give up. Always stick to your dreams. If you believe in it and see it in your dreams, you can make it happen. My mentor, shoe designer, Stephane Kelian, always told me to believe in me. Thanks to him! :)
Beck is the editor of the fashion and personal style blog, The Style Scribe.