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Time-limited luxuries

Are they art? Are they fashion? Answer: both

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Time-limited luxuries

May 25 2011
Avril Groom

French shoe designer Laurence Dacade sees her cool, slightly nostalgic, slightly rock-chick styles as more than just footwear; she aims to create objects that are both sculptural and sensual. So it is perhaps not surprising that when she met multimedia artist Natalie Rich-Fernandez last year, the idea grew between them of turning shoes into wearable art that a customer might collect to put on display as much as in her wardrobe.

The result is a genuinely interesting collaboration that reflects both women’s design character. Made specially for Browns, which is Dacade’s London stockist, the collection consists of 12 pairs, in different-coloured suede but using the same Dacade style – a 1970s-influenced, simple, round-toed shoe with a high wooden heel and platform. Rich-Fernandez, who has previously collaborated with Hermès on a scarf design as well as exhibiting paintings and photography, has created brightly but subtly coloured hand-painted geometric designs that can veer towards op art (at least one is in a fluid, monochrome check) or to the colours of constructivism. Each tones with the suede upper, and all the wood is coated to be hard and durable.

So they are indeed wearable and there is a full range of sizes. But if the version that you favour is not available in your size, there is no chance of a special order. “If you love it, buy it and accept the pain or just exhibit the shoes,” shrugs Dacade. “They were designed to be collectable art as well as shoes and they took a long time to make, so 12 pairs is the total project.”

Arriving on May 26, at £995 they are no more expensive than plenty of non-artwork designer shoes currently in stores and, unlike them, they may well become more valuable over time.