Ok, after a MASSIVE few months here at D&B I have finally put aside some time to get back to what we all love around here… long winded posts about shoe making!
I’ll start with the big news in case anyone missed it – I made the shoes for Christina Exie’s collection as a finalist in Project Runway Australia and last night she was declared the winner! (I’ll stop with the exclamation marks now as they’ll get tiresome) … she wins a buttload of stuff, cash, a car, fabric and also the oppurtunity to show a collection at Sydney Fashion Week early next year, so providing she is still in Australia and not whisked away to international stardom you should all keep an eye out for that.
So, as promised to a few people, here’s the lowdown on how / what Dani and I did during October when we kind of dropped completely off the radar for all friends and family. This will be a long one, so get comfy.
We met Christina in our studio earlier this year when she was looking for studio space, she is friends and has exhibited with Katia who has a spot in our room. None of the spaces we had available were the right size for what she wanted to do – which turns out was to create a collection of some sorts in the hope that she would get to exhibit it after Project Runway was over… as she was eliminated towards the end and only brought back in at the last moment as a wildcard entry.We kept in touch as she seemed to have a great eye for style (and she liked my scary black shoes) so we tossed around the idea of working together in the future…
… and then at the start of November she emailed me to ask if I was interested in making her some shoes to go with her collection, even though it was the end of the year. Thus began stage one.
We discussed ideas, she wanted elastic sided boots, and this was the closest design I had to what she wanted. Luckily, being a designer herself she appreciated that I had ideas of my own and she wasn’t asking me to just make a knock off of something she saw in a shop.
This is the old prototype that we looked at and decided to work from…
So I sewed up a quick black version, glued on a heel and then started with my Photoshop skillllzzz…
et voila! As requested, a “virtual” black boot, 40mm platform, 5 inch (125mm) heel for maximum runway model awesomeness, the inclusion of a nickel buckle as per her collection and a few ideas of how we could include the red and beige that featured in her clothes. I added in the chrome front piece as it seemed to need something to break up the big fat front section.
After we had agreed on a style, she had received word that she should be putting together a collection ‘just in case’ she was needed back on the show, and that’s when things got serious.
I got cracking on production of 10 PAIRS OF SHOES that were due in 3 to 4 weeks. Ouch. Oh, and we didn’t know what sizes to make them as she wasn’t at the stage of choosing models. Grrreeeat.
I made some calls and my best fashion pal Keita at Pronto Productions (who produced the runway shows for MSFW this year) let me know that most Melbourne models are an 8 or 9, so we made the executive decision to just make 8, 8.5 and 9s and hope that the models had squishable toes or thick socks……
stage one… make up a test pair. 12 October.
Realise your pattern is wrong, remake.
Repeat 5 times or more.
Vow to be more careful when designing patterns and less adventurous.
Ignore that and continue to make shoes that “look good” no matter how hard they are to sew together.
Good ol’ leather detail photos (its been a while!)
realising that zips, suede, full grain leather and linings are hard to join all in one place…
but we got there… hellllooooo black boot #1.
A quick mockup to send photos to Christina. Happy comments received, everyone is happy.
Little did i know what was in store for me over the next 3 weeks….
After getting to this stage, and making ANOTHER test pair to further resolve the pattern I had an inkling that sewing all of these myself was a bit of a recipe for disaster. I sew ok, but I’m slllloowwww, whereas Emma Greenwood is a sewing guru and loves a good challenge, so I proposed she sew them for me at a nice and rewarding hourly rate whilst I got to work on other things.
… stuff like this was doing my head in. Straps meeting zips, things turning inside out. Its a mind bender.
the chosen 3 sizes all taped up for making a full set of patterns. If i was passing the sewing on to Emma I had to do a good, clear job of all patterns, none of my usual “front bit” naming conventions and “this bit longer than the other side” random notes.
… being much smarter than me, Emma also dropped a casual “will you be cutting the leather out?” and I was all “yeah, no worries, I’ll do it tonight…”
…4 hours later I was done. Thats half a day cutting things. Jeezus.
As you can see I had to go for maximum hide yield rather than the preferred symmetry and ‘only the nice bits’ rule, hence some of these shoes being a bit old-person-wrinkly in parts.
all sewn up and delivered…
…and 3 test “first pullovers”. Happy days.
Look at that sewing! Fuck, she is good. 20 uppers sewn in one day, neat as a pin. Worth every dollar.
The uppers start to pile up. Each one of these shoes took a few hours to last, and then there was the matter of me only having ONE SET OF LASTS, so I could only make 3 pairs at a time, then I had to pull them off the lasts and start again.
… another lifesaver from Emma was the introduction of heat set toepuffs. Being a hack with no formal experience or training I just make things up and didnt really know how to get or use this stuff. She showed me how, it works perfectly and takes 30 seconds. Amazing.
Alas, by this stage my 3D printer had not yet arrived, so I had to make my platforms the old skool way.
Lots of measurements, MDF, cork and PVA = two master forms to make resin from.
Those compound curves are a BITCH to get to work, but it worked out in the end.
I love PVA. It’s so handy. Filling up gaps here…
so with a whole night’s work silicone moulding this is what I got.
… and once that pink thing is filled with Polyurethane, you get production ready bits!
Dani snuck a sneaky shot of me scowling at a shoe. All of the other photos I’m scowling even more and look like a right grumpy bastard, so this one will do.
Thanks to my wifey’s connections we got a stamp made up at the last minute of my logo.
Have I shown this off before? Dunno, if not, there it is. Courtesy of NICK LEWIS.
oh, and I have a website sort of up now too > http://www.stevenphillips.com.au/
Here’s my #1 girl working away at some stupid hour. By this stage I was a tired panicked mess, Dani stayed to help me through another 12 hour day.
… she wrapped platforms and got hiiiiiigh on glue.
heels starting to stack up on the shelf…
DIY cast resin taps for the bottom of the heels. This resulted in Dani getting a 2 week rash on her arms.
She is allergic to resin fumes. ooooops.
Stamped stuff… looking legit.
Hardcore resin supplies. Audrey and I lament ever getting in to resin casting.
We spend $200 a time at Barnes (casting supplies) and $300 a time at Leffler (leather) like it’s no big thing.
We have discussed opening a shop called “Leather ‘n Resin”.. it would indeed be lucrative, but mostly because the name rolls off the tongue so easily.
Outsoles pre-cut. I used Topy to make them as non-slip as possible. Leather is nice, but a bit scary when you’re walking down a gloss white runway on 5″ heels.
So many shoes.
Here’s a quick shot I took at midnight the day before the deadline day….
Finished models on the bench.
More to go yet… cork inserts for comfort.
Production line, the day of the deadline…
So ONE NIGHT before the deadline (by then she knew she was back in the final 4) I was madly glueing and stamping the final shoes and had entered a total state of tired / wired delerium. I dropped them off at her house, she was just as tired and spaced out as me and we crossed our fingers that her clothes and my shoes would look good together… and nothing would break.
so at 9pm, the night before the show, here we are…. 20 pairs all ready to go.
I wanted to take more photos but honestly I was texting Christina at 10 min intervals with “almost, gimme a minute” then “yep, heading out the door” then “yep, ACTUALLY heading out the door now”…
Dani and I got to go to the filming of the Runway show which was pretty fun, but we were so tired and nervous that neither of us got to pay too much attention to the clothes, our eyes were on the shoes thinking “shoes please dont break, dont fall over girls” over and over again. The show was a success, and as we know now SHE WON THE DAMN SHOW.
Stupidly Dani and I went to the wrong venue and missed the after party (derrrrrrrrr) but all is well that ends well, and this has ended as well as it possibly could have.
So what’s next you ask? SLEEEEEP and LOTS OF IT.
Our pop up shop is still open, we’re selling stuff right up until xmas eve, so come on in and buy cool stuff.
It will make me happy.
January plans you ask?
Making lots of stuff with my new 3D printing NerdStation…
Crazy stuff like this 6″ heel. Fuck yes, that is cool.
and finally doing some more work on this bucket of bolts, that is now registered.
Plans are to lower it so it scrapes on the road, paint it matte charcoal grey instead of green and get some whitewall tyres…
kind of like this, cool huh?
oh, and get ready for Black Sabbath concert that I have tickets for. Yesssssssssss.
So, that completes another blog entry showing that I am a confusing mix of heavy metal bogan /redneck, and sexy shoe aficionado.
Keeps things interesting I guess….
Until next time – MERRY CHRISTMAS! THANKS FOR READING! COME TO OUR SHOP!!!