At thirty-seven years old, Londoner Rob Goodwin came to fashion a little later in life than many of his counterparts – his one-time mentor Terry de Havilland remembers designing shoes at the age of five – but since beginning an MA in Fashion Footwear at the London College of Fashion, Goodwin has taken to the industry like a duck to water.
After several years working as a freelance technical type in the world of television Goodwin sensed that a change was needed and decided to learn a craft through which he could explore his creative side. Tempted at first by the slickly captivating realm of men’s tailoring and the artisan appeal of bespoke furniture-making, Goodwin finally plumped for ladies’ footwear, stating that he’s ‘always loved the transformative effect a great pair of shoes has on a woman, like some kind of leather alchemy’.
Nowadays Goodwin applies his technical nouse to his shoemaking, priding himself on having mastered and developed traditional and original leatherworking techniques. In order to realise his vision, everything has to be made by hand, including dying the leather, hand-stitching seams and a gamut of decorating techniques that just aren’t feasible in factory-produced shoes. The result is a collection that is made up of leather shoes, boots and helmets that are inspired by the costumes and mask-making traditions of the Venetian carnival and the indigenous tribes of the Congo.
This is a powerful combination, which translates into a kind of high-end steam-punk aesthetic. Traditional shoe-making techniques and details, like brogue-style punched trimming and exposed seams, meet the violence of modern design with spiked heels crafted from metal nails and almost other-worldly concealed platform wedges with more nails driven into the curved heel.
Even before the completion of his MA, Goodwin undertook all kinds of extracurricular commissions, for British and Italian Vogue, amongst others, and created leather sculptures that have been exhibited in group shows alongside work by Sir Peter Blake, Rachel Whiteread, Gavin Turk and Vivienne Westwood. Right now Goodwin is currently working on his Spring / Summer 2011 collection which will be shown at London Fashion Week in September.
- Louise Black