The subtitle of this post is:
OMG! Isn't This the Coolest Clog Design You've Ever Seen?
I know you see me effuse rhapsodically about wooden footwear on a daily basis, but seriously, I think this shoe takes the possibilities of clogs to another level. After spending as many decades as I have on the planet, I feel I've had a chance to see (and to wear) an incredible variety of way cool shoes. And after a year and a half of intensely focused blogging about clogs in particular, it honestly takes a lot to get me really excited. But these one off clogs from Welsh designer Fflur Owen have set a new standard.
The feeling I have reminds me of my days working on the staff of a rock radio station. Once every week or so the announcers would get together to listen to some of the new records that had come out (yes, it was that long ago) so that we could talk about them knowledgeably when we were on the air. In the ten years I worked there, I can recall only two occasions when every single one of us jaded disk jockeys got revved up about a new release. We each had our fave artists and our musical styles that were near and dear so it was a rare moment indeed to see the punk fan and the blues aficionado and the straight ahead rocker all bobbing their heads enthusiastically to the same new songs. Only twice it happened. And the two tunes that inspired that unanimous appreciation? The debut single from the first Pretenders record, "Brass in Pocket", and the breathtakingly fresh sounding lead track from the newly revitalized Yes line up, "Owner of a Lonely Heart". They're golden oldies now, but at the time, they were the perfect songs to sum up what had been going on in music and to lead it forward. And every single one of us in that airstaff meeting could hear it.
I get the same reaction to seeing these Western inspired clogs that were part of Fflur Owen's degree collection from the University of Westminster. To me these shoes are that special. As with all creativity that delights, there's that intersection of simplicity of design with the realization that the pieces have been put together in a new and unexpected way. The result is the instantaneous reaction of "Why didn't I think of that?" followed immediately by the urge to say, "I want that!"
As you know, this is a clog blog. So by definition I'm giving short shrift to Ms. Owen's long shifts. I do think the fashions are gorgeous, though, and I encourage you to read more about her stunning collection (and see even more photos of it) via DazedDigital.com and OpenMagazine.co.uk. I've posted a few images culled from her own website and her Flickr photostream. Take a moment to treat yourself to her unique vision of fashion when you're ready to take a break from the same old hits and want to have something fresh and new cross your path.
ECHID: Your 2009 collection has a strong western Americana flavor. How did you get interested in that?
FFLUR: I have always had a strange obsession with cowboys, but when I was about 7 years old, I went to Mexico for a month. There I discovered "charros" - Mexican cowboys- they are very colorfully dressed, in beautiful patterns and heavenly studded and embellished garments.
My pre-collection was full of strong colors and detailing- but for my final collection, I did tame it down and made the whole collection much more feminine and relaxed.
ECHID: You mentioned in an interview that you love cowboy boots. What inspired that?
FFLUR: This too is from my Mexican experience, I was 7 years of age getting my first pair of real cowboy boots- ever since I have had an obsession with them..I even have numerous books on cowboy boots!
ECHID: Tell me a little about the palette of colors you chose to work with in your collection. They all harmonize together very well.
FFLUR: Although I love working with strong colors, I wanted to keep this collection very natural. Most of the leather I used in the collection was untreated--I love the raw and natural feel to it. After choosing the leather, I decided that I would hand dye all the rest of my fabrics to compliment it. After numerous fittings and dying sessions, experimenting with various colours, I just chose the ones that I preferred the most.
ECHID: I assume you had your clothing designs fairly fleshed out first and then took a look at what sort of footwear would complement the fashions best. Can you tell me about the decisions that went into that process? You were working with a western motif, but you ended up with clogs for the show. How did you get there?
FFLUR: Well, as I am Welsh, I wanted to put am element of home in the collection. The countryside in Wales always inspires me, I had previously made some bags and jewellery with skulls that I had found, But I just wanted to bring more of my heritage and a sense of nature in to the collection.
Clogs have always been a part of my life, as a child I use to dance traditional folk or "Dawnsio Gwerin" as it is known in Wales.
Having been working on my leather pieces for a while, I was determined to create footwear that would compliment the collection. I remembered about a local clog maker that worked close to my village, so I contacted him to arrange a meeting.
After being introduced to the process of manufacturing a clog, we immediately started working on designing my clogs. It was good to have Trevor Owen--the clog maker at my side, as he was able to tell me what was possible to do. He had never produced a fashion clog before, so the process was a learning curve for both of us.
The clogs were actually ready before my collection was finished, I carried the bull head motif through from the leather sculptured dress as I wanted to tie all the themes together.
ECHID: Tell me a little more about the clogs you designed. They're a very unique platform style that I've never seen before.
FFLUR: I actually took lots of pictures of the traditional folk dancing clog, and brought them back to London with me, where I started to sketch my own clogs.
I did design many various designs, some more fashion, and others more traditional. After experimenting with numerous designs, I noticed that the heavy wood made the models walk in a more elegant and slow way; they seamed to be gliding. This is what I was hoping for; I wanted to create a mesmerizing eerie feel to the runway. Some have even suggested that they sensed a pagan feel to the show due to the skulls and so on.
ECHID: Can your shoe designs still be purchased? Whom should my readers contact? What information would you need for someone to place an order?
FFLUR: Unfortunately I only have limited stock left, but you are more than welcome to contact me, I will try to help as much as possible. [Ed. note: you can reach Fflur via e-mail or look for her on Facebook.]
ECHID: What fashion work are you doing today? Where is your career taking you now that you're out of university?
FFLUR: Today I am working as a freelance designer. I am always looking for new exciting projects to work on. I also hope to go back to University to specialize in leather design, but you never know what might be around the corner.
[On my feet today: nothing as cool as the clogs above. I'm almost embarrassed to say I just wore those same old Outerspace clog booties from BC Footwear again. Those of you who are growing tired of hearing about them will be happy to know that they're starting to wear out. Once they fall apart completely, I'll be forced to move on!]