Júlia Káldy designs shoes for Zola Jesus – interview
Graduating in 2011 with an award-winning collection, footwear designer Júlia Káldy has created some praiseworthy collaborations with two rising starlets in fashion and music. While her shoe collection for London-based fashion designer Eleanor Amoroso hit the catwalks of London Fashion Week, her more recent project with EB-favorite singer Zola Jesus hits the stages worldwide. The Hungarian designer let us step into her world of feet.
You graduated at Moholy-Nagy University of Art And Design Budapest (MOME) with MA last year, what was the philosophy behind your graduate collection?
I was inspired by shoes that are wearable sculptures. I had the idea to experiment with footwear as if an object that is also wearable. This idea had been developed to a 9-pair collection which showcased a range of footwear started from more complicated sculptural objects to very simple and wearable street shoes by four phases. I used the same leather material for all pieces, this so called Caucasian tone which fits to the white skin, in order to fuse the shoes with the feet. I like to think about human body in its complete silhouette and form where footwear fits as harmonic and invisible as possible.
How was the feedback on your graduate collection?
Very positive! And it was a great self-confidence bomb for me. I got the first nice response when I got the possibility to present my works made during my Erasmus semester in Copenhagen for the renowned Italian interior designer Paola Navone. She gave a presentation at my university about her works and some select students could consult her and she really liked my concept shoes. It gave me a strong eagerness to continue with developing my idea. Also, I was so happy to get the prestigious annual prize from the president of the university for my diploma collection. Actually it was my introduction to the professional circles in Budapest. My diploma collection got also a nice feedback at several blogs worldwide from Holland to the States, maybe the Designmilk post was what I was the happiest about.
What happened since then?
I got an assignment from a British designer Eleanor Amoroso to create custom-made shoes for her SS12 collection. She liked the result and her catwalk show was covered by many magazines last September. It was a lovely story; she was looking for a footwear designer to work together and I emailed her my portfolio on the Not Just A Label website. She liked my works and wanted me to design her exclusive, bespoke shoes for her show at London Fashion Week SS12. It helped me a lot that Not Just A Label featured my collection before, I’m very thankful that they believed in me and pushed my works, I also met Stefan [Siegel, founder of NJAL] in person at the Fashion Video Festival in Budapest last year.
Recently I also had another collaboration with a Hungarian fashion designer Dóri Tomcsányi, we had a catwalk show at the fashion days of a commercial magazine. Working with her was really inspiring, I have never done similar like that, to work and think with someone so closely together.
Do you believe only in collaboration or have you ever thought about designing garments on your own?
That’s very interesting you’re asking this, because I was just thinking about this lately. Since my last collaboration I realized how much I miss it. I’m not sure to start to do this all thing on my own. I liked working with Dóri because somehow what she did up on the body fitted perfectly what I did down on the feet, I couldn’t do it better. I think I would trust and leave it to someone how can do it much better than me. As far as I can resonate with someone for the same style and design; I wouldn’t start to design clothes on my own.
Mostly I’m working independently, but as soon as I start to work in team, my limits get extended; it may give me more inspiration. I’m always looking for people who inspire me personally and professionally and we can do something interesting together.
What are your style characters?
I think I create very strong-featured shapes that dominate the foot. If I want to emphasize the shoes, I never try to pair it with a too characteristic garment, but keep them simpler. Simplicity is always important for me. Another thing what I like is the sharp contrast. Be it hidden or unhidden, something in its form or in color which makes it different is preferable. When you take it and a blood red inline gets visible, that gives a nice dynamics to the object. I like playing with this idea: Make it simple, well-made, out of quality leather, topped with a little surprise.
How did you get know each other with Zola Jesus?
Last September I received an email from her like … “this is Nika Roza Danilova, a singer and I saw you design shoes, can I buy one?” Her name was familiar and I checked it and found out that she is Zola Jesus. I replied her that I’m happy that she found me, and was wondering why not to make a capsule collection for her. I said if she is open, I could do some sketches based on how I see her style. After I sent her the moodboard she was overwhelmingly happy how much our taste matched. It turned out that we like similar things and artists, for instance Tara Donovan’s monumental installations or Zaha Hadid’s organic architecture. She couldn’t believe it; it was like a fairy tale. I met her while I was in New York in February and I could give her the first model of the collection. She was crazy about the shoes, she took them on and said she won’t take them off. It was such a good feeling that she loved my handicraft stuff. Later I heard that during her Europe-tour she will give a concert in Budapest too.
What about the future?
I’d like to keep on working together with Zola Jesus. I’m doing my academy degree at the university and will teach from September. And I want to start my own business and design bespoke shoes on an on-demand basis.
Zola Jesus will perform in Budapest on 7th April 2012 at A38 ship, more information and ticket raffle here.
Photos about Zola Jesus: Júlia Káldy / Campaign images: Éva Szombat / Head image: Olga Kocsi, styling: Patrícia Nóra
Published March 26, 2012. Words by Andras G. Varga.