It had been a while since I didn’t have a breakthrough momentum in London. Not that the place is not energetic anymore, but things tend to sometimes look a bit the same…
And there came Steven D.R Skippen, Founder and Shoe Artisan at Shoeshine UK that I met at Monsieur London. I had never experienced such a sensation on my feet, through my shoes; I had only used automatic machines in some hotels here and there. Then I understood what bespoke and talent mean. With his own hands, Steven knows how to transform your shoes into YOUR shoes.
We can make a bet: if I were a brand collection director, I would directly hire Steven to create a capsule collection.
Hi Steven: when did you star shining shoes?
I started shining shoes over 14 years ago I literally fell into it as a stop gap but to this day am still shining shoes. For 13 years my big red chair has been installed in the lobby of The London Hilton on Park Lane, my hands have had the opportunity to dwell on the shoes of the Sultan of Brunei, The Dalai Lama, Mike Tyson, the King of Jordan, Jean Claude Van Damme and the great football star, George Best.
I started Shoeshine UK in October 2000“originally at The London Hilton Metropole but quickly transferred to The London Hilton on Park Lane. I brought a style of shoe care that the UK had never seen before and have cared for many icon’s shoes”.
Using just our bare hands and the best products available regardless of cost we are revolutionising the industry and need people to understand the difference in what we do to others.
It requires very strong skills as you have a pretty unique approach: you use your own hands. How did you learn?
I only received one weeks training as to do what I now can achieve takes years of trial and error. I have perfected The Art of Shine and patina (colouring of leather with dyes) in effect never accepting that I can never improve and always striving for perfection.
I do all my work with my bare hands a skill not seen in Europe and achieve far superior results because of this.
Shoeshining is an amazing bespoke service: can we “book” you for special events?
Yes I do many private events my past CV includes Tommy Hilfiger, Esquire magazine, Browns fashion and Monsieur London. As you can imagine we are a very sought after service due to how unique we are.
What are your favourite products for shoeshining?
I only use the finest ingredients Saphir and Angelus products renowned as unbeatable in our profession. It begins by feeding the leather with three different creams a combination of Beeswax, mink oil from Saphir, Lord Sheraton leather balsam and Ultra Creme, then a leather massage, followed by applying a multitude of colours at each location of the shoe; this can darken and lighten at will to emphasize the slenderness of the foot.
Brushes to me have no effect. If you applied cream to your face would you use a brush? I like to penetrate the leather with my bare hands giving care and a deep shine at the same time”. Believe what you see not what you read, redefining a dying artform.
I know you have dozens of projects: when will we see your own range of products?
You are right my projects are endless. Establishing my patina service is paramount and trying to make people understand that not all shoeshiners are the same.
Regarding a product range this is just around the corner and has taken a long time due to getting it perfect.
What can we wish you?
Why use a service that gives you a result that you could get yourself at home when you could use a service that would change your perception of shoeshine forever? The public are not aware of the differences and this is why shoeshine is sadly at the lowest point it has ever been. Its time people saw what shoeshine really could be like”.
Steven D.R. Skippen in brief:
Years in profession -14 years
Favourite shoe company – Berluti, Santoni, Gaziano Girling, Giacopelli, Pierre Corthay, Stefanobi, Septieme Largeur, Edward Green, JM Weston, Cleverley, Marc Guyot, Carlos Santos, Aubercy, Emling and Loding
First job in profession – London City Airport in 2000
Favourite products-Saphir, Angelus, La Cordonnerie Anglaise and Lord Sheraton
Greatest inspirations – Dandy Shoecare, Landry Lacour and JM Le Gazel for patina and Stephen Reynolds for shoeshine.
Experience – London City Airport, Bloomberg, Lehman Brothers, KPMG, Harbour Exchange Tower, London Hilton Metropole, The London Hilton on Park Lane, Dunhill, Marks club, George club, The Office group, Whites Club and Goodwood festival.
1 year ago, we started to work with Flavie Trichet Lespagnol and Marion May on a crazy project with the agency. We were having a chit-chat and Chris looked at his feet. And he said: this is our topic.
Everybody has a story with feet; and feet tell a lot of stories about people. Very surprisingly, when it comes to shoes and brands, not so many products are really dedicated to feet. Is it because marketers think they have ugly feet?
We discovered many crazy insights: when you are pregnant, your feet grow. Women walk more than men every day in the world. We are a vast majority to buy shoes that are not at the right size for us.
Flavie and Marion went to Spain, France, travelled the UK; and interviewed a lot of interesting people. Asking questions about our feet was actually a way to talk about deeper topics: love, anxiety, self-esteem. Style as a bone of contention of our humanity; skins as the features of our journeys.
He has turned a two-storey house at Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles into a hotel, as an artistic experiment. Although it was not a commercial undertaking, Ruppersberg treated the seven guest rooms seriously. He named the rooms individually- the Jesus Room, the Al Room, The Bridal Suite, the Breakfast Room, and Day Room, the Ultra Violet Room and the B Room; each one themed and built with vernacular materials. What’s more, Ruppersberg has made it possible for visitors to stay for a night with $30 forthe Suite, and $15 for other rooms.
COS also commissioned a film by director Simon Elephant; the analogy of the phoenix is very well executed as you’ll see. A subtle bridge between fashion and contemporary arts.
A good move from COS as the brand is attacking the US market starting from June…
At the very beginning of & Other Stories, I was septic: again a copycat of a mass retailer trying to sell fake arty fashion pieces.
The thing that I was very wrong. & Other Stories multiplies interesting collaborations with rising designers, highlighting fashion with meaning.
Richard Braqo, born in Ghana, is famous for his daring shoes. He explores strange forces by “collating ideas in unexpected ways“. The collaboration with & Other Stories is loaded with this tension. Whims challenge abstraction, sexyness dares rebellion.
The British Fashion Council today announces the shortlist for the BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund supported by Vertu.
Christopher Raeburn, Christopher Shannon, E. Tautz, Lou Dalton and Richard Nicoll are the happy few.
We’re really happy that Lou Dalton gets into this brilliant shortlist. Using roots, playing with history, we lover her inspiring way of doing menswear. Suits with stories, denims with culture: fashion a it should be.
Richard Nicoll (who’s also the new Jack Wills creative director) is not a newcomer: spotted several times before, multi-awarded, the designer keeps his skyrocketing pace in fashion, reinventing modernity, playing with hybrid influences, from street to preppy.
“The shortlisted designers are testament to the extraordinary array of talent in the menswear industry in Britain right now. The current generation of British menswear designers might be the best ever, as they not only have creativity in abundance, but also a keen business sense. Our young designers know that without a solid business background, success can be tough, which is why it is so heartening to see such strong business plans from these shortlisted designers. I wish them all well.” Dylan Jones, Editor of British GQ and Chair of London Collections: Men
The Fund will provide one designer with a bespoke, high level mentoring support programme over a twelve month period, as well as a £150,000 grant to provide necessary infrastructure to take them to the next stage in their business and £50,000 value in kind services. The Fund is aimed at businesses that have been trading for a minimum of three years, with UK and international stockists and have graduated through the existing BFC talent support schemes or are at a similar stage in their business. The winner of the fund will be announced a week before London Collections: Men15th – 17th Junewww.londoncollections.co.uk/men.
Chinese designer Simon Gao was definitely one of the biggest sensations this year at London Fashion Week AW14. The show was packed and it was trending in social networks. SIMONGAO won the Mercedes-Benz China Young Fashion Award, 2013, which is one of the reasons why we had a chance to attend his show in London.
His collection shows a very “zen” attitude: colors are mostly playing with shades of greys, whites and blacks, with blue or brown fantasies. SIMONGAO played in a very subtle way with materials: draping and folding embrace dresses; belts and accessories might refer to a modern Geisha; this oriental inheritance matches with contemporary “street” influences we can see in London or NYC: models were walking with New Balance sneakers.
“I’ve done some research for different civilizations. I mixed them together to make Urban Chic.”
It was basically the best of Opening Ceremony machine without a too aggressive fuss: Beyoncé was not in the air (vs all the other shows I’ve attended) and Simon Gao was suggesting a more balanced vision of “women”.
“I want SIMONGAO girls to do sports, to experience different lives, to meet different cultures, to eat different foods, and run an optimistic attitude for life. It’s all about confidence, all about the language you want to tell to people.”
We had a chance to catch up backstage with the rising talent; discover more about Simon Gao now:
We’ve followed the reboot of K-Way brand for the last couple of months. And it’s seriously interesting; what used to be the nylon windbreaker that every sporty-daddy had to wear during week-end adventures has suddenly become a fashionable and must-have piece.
Judith Milgrom, the founder of Maje created four new designs available in gray or leopard print. The limited edition capsule collection will go on sale in February.
“First created in 1965 by Léon-Claude Duhamel, a French manufacturer of pants, the nylon windbreaker quickly became one of K-Way‘s iconic pieces, thanks to its lightweight, compactable design. Following collaborations with A.P.C. in 2009 and Versus Versace last September, K-Way is now joining up with womenswear label Maje on a limited edition range of windbreakers. The capsule collection, available from February, is made up of four styles in polyester knit or nylon, bringing a modern edge to a wet weather classic. Oversized or fitted, each K-Way is available in four different colors: pale gray, black leopard print, gray leopard print and dark gray”.
‘Ten years ago, together with adidas we created something that did not exist before and completely projected the future. My desire was and is to make sportswear elegant and chic. adidas is a very personal inspiration to me … it enriches my creative life.’ – Yohji Yamamoto, 2011
True fact; as adidas was the very first to embrace hip hop, they were also the very first to understand how sportswear should become a tremendous part of our modern lifestyles.
The new collection, presented during Paris Men’s Fashion Week, is another exemplary set of art. The topic is sort of déjà vu “Superheroes might be the world’s only remaining hope”. But the way it’s executed is outstanding.
“Men’s and women’s pieces were presented together in a range of retro-tinged primary colors. Clothes emphasized functionality and modularity to underscore Y-3′s commitment to the vision of sport-style. Stunningly revealed in an epic black and white setting with a neon light backdrop, models stalked the runway to superhero music themes and were watched by a front-row crowd including music icon Kanye West, Parisian socialites Louise Monot, Caroline Proust and Louis-Marie de Castelbajac, German actor Clemens Schick as well as adidas athletes Gwladys Épangue (Olympian/Taekwondo), Laura Flessel-Colovic (Olympian/Fencing) and Jimmy Vicaut (Sprinter)”.
As in popular mangas, the collection plays with utopia and dystopia; silhouettes might become monsters, drapes and black pattern play with the devils. A bit like if Spiderman was part of Yves Saint Laurent.
“The collection is an hommage to the couturiers of he 60′s. I wanted to infuse a this spirit into it. I was also thinking of super heroes and the kind of clothes they wear. Cut for an active and fighting life style, so I brought these two worlds together.” Yohji Yamamoto