Rose Choules trained with the historic John Lobb of St James’s Street, the home of handmade, made-to-measure shoes. She blends tradition with innovation and is much in demand for her artisanal approach. Rose won the 2011 Footwear Friends Designer Award and all her shoes are still made by hand in her London workshop.
She also consults and designs for major sports and fashion brands, focusing on functional aesthetics.
Rose sent us some pictures as our red moccasins were being made in the workshop and it gave us the idea of running a competition with her to create a pair of unique bespoke moccasins for one of our customers to win.
When we asked Rose if she would be happy to do that, she was really excited at the idea and offered to invite the customer in to her workshop to see the final stages of their unique shoes being made!
To tie in with the competition, we asked Rose a few questions about how she got started in shoe design, what inspires her and what she would have been in another life…
How did you get into designing shoes?
I was 11 and for some reason drawing shoes as little animals sparked my imagination, there was a mouse, a lion, and other strange designs, like a shoe zoo! From then on, shoes always featured in my creative work when I studied art, and then fashion and textiles, shoe design was always a thread. When I found out there was a degree course specifically in Shoe design and technology I was over the moon.
What inspires you when creating new designs?
It’s mostly the spirit of things - a way of working or living that inspires me. Interesting materials on my travels which would suit a certain design, and I seem to always delve in to books about ancient fashions and interior designs, for instance the clothing and treasures of the aristocratic nomads of Afghanistan in the times of the Silk Road, or it might be the spirit of the Bauhaus movement. Something that captures my imagination about how people live.
What do you think makes a great pair of shoes?
A touch of fun but a certain class too. I love certain last shapes (what shoes are made on) that are very classic and elegant. A great pair of shoes begins with the last.
What is your favourite pair of shoes and why?
My favourite pair of shoes are the ones I’m currently wearing (of course!). I just made them and they are part of a current project called ‘The Black Collection’. There are a limited number of Black moccasins which are all to be personalised for each customer, my pair have the black and white ikat which I love, and pastel green silk hearts.
What designers do you admire?
Roger Vivier is my favourite Shoe designer of all time, he was a shoemaker and his designs were absolutely fabulous. I also admire Terence Conran who only put styles in to production that he could make with his own hands in the workshop. I love that work ethic. He was very hands-on and that’s also my approach.
What brands and shops do you love?
I love Isabel Marant, MM6 Maison Martin Margila, and for shopping MERCI in Paris for bits and bobs for the home, and the wonderful cafe. I’ve found myself in Paris quite a bit recently and I love many French labels. Also I love the Cloth House on Berwick street in Soho, I’m always stocking up on materials and rare trims in there.
What do you love doing when you’re not designing shoes?
I love going for coffee and cake with friends which I seem to do a lot, and also going to the sea side, being very lazy, reading books, and magazines like Uppercase, Lula, or Selvedge, and still-life drawing.
What was your Plan B if you hadn’t become a designer?
Plan B: A botanical illustrator. Plan C: a member of Fleetwood Mac.
Below are the Rose Choules moccasins created for Plümo: