How did you learn to design shoes? In my early 20s I worked in interior design, which I loved, but I couldn’t get rid of this nagging shoe thing in the back of my mind. I’d always loved shoes, and was fascinated by their design, texture and materiality.
My husband and I sold our home in Mount Maunganui and moved to Italy for a year, so I could study with tutors who’d worked at Valentino and Fendi, at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome. It was intense. I worked day and night, visited factories, studied leathers, lasts and moulds. One night, I got home from school at 5pm and had to draw 200 pairs of shoes to hand in the next day. It taught me not to overthink things and just design.
How did Chaos & Harmony develop? We came back to New Zealand and started Chaos & Harmony. I still love texture, so you’ll often find that in our designs. And although power heels are the foundation of the brand, we also really appreciate shoes you can wear comfortably all day. That’s important for brides and bridesmaids. Our team brings our beautiful shoes to life and when designing, we always ask ourselves, would we wear it? If the answer is no, for any reason, they don’t make it into stores. Tell us about your new occasion and wedding range. After our sales manager got engaged in April, 2016 and started planning her wedding, we realised there wasn’t a great range out there for brides who want a beautifully designed, timeless shoe they can wear after their wedding day. She took some of our shoe samples to her dress fitting, the staff there loved them, and the range grew from there. We’ve re-imagined some of our most tried- and-true styles from past collections, including a heel, a mid-heel and a low sandal, all in beautiful shades of snow, gold and nude. They have a leather outsole for an added sense of luxury and elegance. We hope our brides will keep wearing them afterwards, so we’ve kept the designs simple and flattering, and they’ve all been tested for comfort.
What trends are you noticing in wedding shoes? People are definitely moving away from traditional white to more statement shoes, and we love seeing brides allowing their love for shoes to show on the day. We’ve also seen more practicality – beach brides wearing a low sandal, or a block heel for weddings on grass.
What is the key to your success? We don’t really follow trends. We design shoes that will last for years. We love classic designs that are flattering and try to create shoes that women will want to wear every day, in designs and colours that can be worn in many different ways. Our shoes always appear simple, but on closer inspection, they’ll have distinct details that make them stand out. We love seeing a woman’s confidence come out when they put on a pair of our shoes. Tell us about how your shoes are made. All our shoes start life as a hand-drawn sketch in our head office, here in Mount Maunganui, and we design one range at a time. We handpick high-grade leathers at markets, have samples created, and then go into production in the Guangdong province in China. We use latex memory foam on the foot bed for comfort, as well as a leather lining. All our shoes are handmade and our factory abides by ethical manufacturing standards.
Any tips for brides and bridesmaids on the hunt for wedding shoes? Wear your shoes in before the big day! If you haven’t worn heels before, practice. Also, stay true to who you are. If you’re drawn to a particular shoe, go for that. View Chaos & Harmony Bridal Boutique at Chaos and Harmony Shoes from February 1.