Friday, September 27, 2013

Lynn Oxford - A Tribute

From time to time life throws you a curve ball....a reminder that this is not a rehearsal and that every second should be lived to the utmost.

Last weekend, a very dear friend died from a heart attack. Fit, healthy and full of joie de vivre, this was a bolt from the blue. Why are we sharing something so personal? Well, this lovely woman created our logo and brand identity. She brought my solo business, Atelier Carre, to life with a wonderful sweeping 'A' and 'C'

in the days when I made bags and small leather accessories, as well as handsewn shoes...

and then together with James, helped us to realise carreducker. Thanks to her wonderful design sense we have a timeless ident - simple and strong - that appears as the CD hallmark below on the soles of every pair of shoes that we make...

as 'wallpaper'....

 ...with our business name, on all of our packaging, marketing materials and website 

...and together with Gieves' logo on our boxes.
We've always been determined that the carreducker brand should have significance in the shoemaking world...but now even more so!

Lynn Oxford

So in honour of Lynn, let's live life to the full and until next week, happy shoemaking!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Last Minute Places On Shoemaking Course

Hello shoe people, we have an intensive shoemaking course starting on October 7 and we have had two last minute withdrawals.

Do any of you want to do it? Please contact us if you do.

More information and booking forms here

We would love to hear from you

Until next time, happy shoemaking!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bespoke shoe design favourites

This week we're taking a look at two favourite design projects - a pair of hunting boots with gaiters and a sturdy Derby shoe.

The hunting boots are in a luxuriously, waxy leather for maximum protection out in the that minor marks and scratches can be burnished out with a sleeking bone.

Amongst the original sketches I did, were a number of designs based on 'puttys' and WWI bike boots.

Personally I think that gaiters are much under-used as they can conveniently and quickly transform a pair of shoes into a boot - two for the price of one if you like! And as you know I am a huge boot fan!

The final version needs to be as sleek as possible so that buckles and straps don't catch on thorny bushes or in brambles. As it stands,  the buckles may be a fraction too big, but we're pleased with the solution to conceal the strap fastenings in the facings.

Let's hope that they fit well and that the client likes them as much as we do!

Below are a pair of sturdy Gibson's that we have just finished. They are on their way to have bespoke shoe trees made before we deliver them.

This client wanted a very strong, slightly vintage feel. The toe cap and three eighths sole help to emphasise the robustness; and the grain, caramel calf upper will gradually age, developing a beautiful, natural patina. It is the colour mix and their sheer, unabashed confidence that have made these shoes such fun to design.

The soft-but-strong caramel calf, is complemented by a deep permanganate lining and lime green piping and heel tab (just visible in the picture below). Gorgeous!

(To minimise slippage the sole has a half rubber sticker-sole and if there is any doubt of confidence the shoes also have steel toe plates for added presence).

Happy shoemaking until next week when hopefully we'll have photos of blue Italian skies to cheer up all our UK-based readers...if like me you're pining for an Indian summer.

Friday, September 13, 2013

What a difference a last makes

Short and sweet this week.

We have a rather spectacular pair of shoes in development....and some of the most extreme lasts we have ever created, toe-shape-wise that is.

They are very long and pointed - a good three inches beyond the customer's feet. The length brings with it its own challenges as we don't want them to look like court jester's shoes when he has worn then a few times nor for the toe to wear out.

Options we are considering to help strengthen the toe (as well as a sturdy insole and strong toe puff) are metal toe plates under the toe and small metal caps on the toes.

To help the client to visualise the shoe, I pulled some scraps of leather over the last and used silver pen to sketch on ideas as we talked (see above). It really helped our discussions and is something that we will definitely do more often where we design discussions are needed.

Then, to ensure the client was happy with the length, I pulled over an extreme brogue upper for him to try on.

The pics above and below just go to show the influence that the last shape has on the finished shoe or boot. The same style of boot appears in both sets of shots but gives the resulting boot an entirely different feel.

More musings on this pair in the coming weeks as the leathers are chosen and the uppers take shape. Until then happy shoemaking!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bespoke Boots and Dress Pumps

It's been a marathon summer and we have really enjoyed taking our students through the process of hand sewing their shoes under our watchful eye. 

This week, refreshed from holiday - a splendid week in Dorset (both sunny and relaxing) - we're gearing up from some fantastic design projects. In fact, a visit to Portsmouth Naval Dockyard during my holiday helped my research for one - naval footwear from the Regency period. 

Like many designers, historic dress is a rich source of ideas for adaptation and reinterpretation. So it was interesting to learn how, during the Regency period, men's style became less elaborate and so too did their shoes. 

Men's pumps (dress shoes) gradually changed from low, simple slipper-styles to high throated shoes with curved heels, fastened over the instep with side pieces (called latchets) and either tied in an elaborate bow or pulled through a decorative buckle. 

These ornate slipper styles were in turn replaced by simpler styles in basic black with low heels. (Some men continued to wear ornate buckles into the early 19th century, but only for formal occasions). 

I've seen examples of these shoes in paintings before, but it was interesting to find a pair tucked away aboard HMS Victory!

When they weren't strutting their stuff in dress shoes, boots were the footwear of choice for men, with Hessian boots (from Hesse in Germany) the most popular style. They were standard issue footwear for military officers, made from calf and cut wider on the leg so that they could be pulled on.
They had a low, one inch heel and a semi-pointed toe that made them practical for mounted troops as they allowed easy use of stirrups. They reached to just below the knee and had a decorative tassel at the top of each shaft. (We're looking forward to recreating these uppers).

Hessian boots in turn inspired the first Wellington boots when the first Duke of Wellington instructed his shoemaker to modify the style. His boots were made in soft calfskin leather, cut close to the leg and without the trim around the top edge.

They were hard wearing for battle yet comfortable for the evening and remained popular amongst the fashionable and foppish well through the 1840s. 
(So celebrities influenced fashion back then too!)

The leg fit on both boots is going to be a challenge - soft enough leather to pull on, but not so soft that they bag or slide down - but one we are looking forward to if the client progresses the project. Fingers crossed!

That's our snapshot of footwear history for now, so until next week happy shoemaking!