I seem to be getting into the habit of having cross-Atlantic crossed-wires with meeting up with people. Last time it was with Angie Johnson of I Heart Montreal where she came to London and I happened to be in New York. Then whilst I was in Montreal, it turned out that Montreal-based, Belarusian shoe designer Anastasia Radevich was in London/Italy sorting out production. Doh! To think I could have sniffed out her studio to see how in the world she came up with her new collection 'Kinetik' which features some fibre optic lights embedded into the body of a shoe. Yes, lights in shoes… see if that was a subject line in an email that began with 'Dear Blogger' (really, I would prefer Sir/Madam…), I'd be groaning thinking "Oh dear… someone thought it was MIGHTY clever to stick a light in a shoe and feel really smarmy and smart about that…"
I've spoken about the fusion of fashion with technology that more often than not, the final product results, not in Hussein Chalayan-esque levels of beauty but in clunky pieces that have a giant battery pack attached to it (t-shirts that have LCD screens, jackets with iPod rechargers etc… ) and are basically garments packed with computer chips for the sake of showing that fashion and technology can produce something 'nifty' or else they are one-off pieces that aren't meant to be worn on a day to day basis (dresses worn by Katy Perry/Rihanna for shock factor…). It is probably a matter of years before the fusion becomes a coherent one but for now I prefer the investigation of technology in fashion to be a subtle or slightly more evolved one than just sticking lights in a garment.
However, for Anastasia Radevich's ankle boots and shoes that feature fibre optics, I take it back. Francesca Castagnacci has also been highlighted recently with some fibre optic shoe action but I'm glad that the results are VASTLY different. Whilst Castagnacci's shoe shouts "Hey I'm made out of fibre optic and I've got it coming out at EVERY ANGLE possible!", Radevich's version is subtle to the point where you could turn off the flat bar switch (embedded inside the top of the boot…) and still have a beautiful shoe mainly because of the heel and platform which are constructed to look like a doodle in the air or some mish mashed curves of a Gaudi building. The fibre optics are also embedded into a mesh panel that is surrounded by a suede upper which again, adds more design to the shoe as a stand-alone shoe as opposed to just a shoe that lights up. In any case, when that switch is on, the fibre optic splay of light is like a cell formation, something more natural, as opposed to the disco/rave antics that light-up or glow-in-the-dark shoes often display (probably because the light doesn't flash on and off…)…
The natural world definitely infiltrates Radevich's work a lot as per her last 'Biofuture' collection though she often delves into the more mysterious side of nature which is why you end up with shapes, textures and THESE fantastically conceived line-art heels that are in the rest of the Kinetik collection. There's something genuinely exciting about seeing her develop a brand of shoes that goes beyond just looking 'pretty' and translating her highly ornate style into something that can go into production. When you have the likes of Chau Har Lee being stocked by Selfridges in their new shoe floor, there perhaps is a certain shoe niche where simultaenously directional and wearable shoe design will be accepted and available to the general public as opposed to just being admired from afar with comments like "Wow, that's ART!". No, these are shoes. Shoes that can go on people's feet. They just happen to have a lot going on and that's reassuring to know despite our collective return to supposed sensible fashion sensibilities.