London based designer, Chau Har Lee’s innovative shoe collection is on display at our Showroom from now until 1st March.
We catch up with her for a quick interview in which she introduces herself and her shoe collection:
What made you get into the fashion and design industry?
I have always loved making things from a young age. My mother encouraged me to be inventive and create something extraordinary out of everyday ordinary items. This is what started my fascination in drawing and design and why I applied for an art foundation course at Camberwell College of Arts.
I studied subjects such as fine arts and textiles which really opened my eyes to the world of fashion. My first shoe-making project was where I found my core strength – the module had the perfect combination of technical and design and I thought ‘this is me.’
What inspired your concept of traditional shoemaking with modern technologies?
After finishing college and working in the footwear and accessories industry, I applied for my Masters at the Royal College of Art. It was a turning point in my career and for my design concepts.
I became more creative in experimenting with fashion practices and my confidence grew as I was pushed to think outside the box and play with traditional shoe making methods and digital technology. This has stayed with me ever since and forms the foundation of many of my designs today.
For inspiration, I look to furniture and car designers who merge the modern with traditional. I wanted to find my own way of re-imagining footwear.
If you had one piece of fashion advice for students, what would it be?
The most important lesson to learn is to love what you are doing- passion and enjoyment is always evident in a final product. If you are excited by your design other people will be too; believe in your product and you will inspire others to do so.
How did your relationship with YKK begin?
10 years ago, I won the YKK’s Accessories Collection of the Year ITS8 Italy. This award win is definitely one of my career highlights as a footwear designer. It is only fitting that a decade ago I won this award… and today I am exhibiting my latest designs at the YKK London Showroom!
Tell us about your shoe collection at the YKK London Showroom?
My collection at the YKK London Showroom is – what I like to call – a “work in progress”. I like to think that all my designs are constantly evolving and transforming in a labour of love. For this reason the collection is nameless; a name gives a piece an end, but I want my designs to be endless. The pieces in my collection are not limited and can always develop into something more, or something different. The collection consists of shoes that incorporate my love for balancing the traditional with digital technology. The first piece is a 3D printed shoe that took 14 hours to print. The exterior has marble finish, spray painted by local Essex painters. The digital manufacturing process is an area new to me and it has been a fascinating process in integrating digital with traditional methods even more.
The second item is a prototype for my 6-piece flat pack shoe, made from orange acrylic. The concept behind this design is that the wearer can swap or replace a part of the shoe for a different colour or material – it’s personal and adds a flare of customisation to conventional shoe design.
My range of steel heel shoes will also be on display, mixing traditional materials, such as leather, with orange acrylic to experiment with traditional shoe structure. I worked with a local Hatton Garden jeweller who welded the polished steel heel, using laser welding with heat to delicately construct the heel.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working on my collection that’s current displayed at the YKK London Showroom and I hope others enjoy how I have reconstructed the way in which we typically design shoes.
Chau designs are on show at the YKK London Showroom from January until 1 March 2019. For more information on Chau Har Lee’s display head to @ykklondonshowroom Instagram account.
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