News & Runway

A Moment with CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Winner Paul Andrew


Paul Andrew and Joan Smalls

Paul Andrew and Joan Smalls; Image: Getty

Shoe veteran Paul Andrew is on a roll. After crafting accessories and shoes the past 15 years for Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Narciso Rodriguez and Alexander McQueen, the British-born designer branched out on his own and launched his eponymous footwear label for Spring 2013. Since his debut, he’s shown no signs of slowing down, much to the delight of red carpet fans like Gwyneth Paltrow and Lupita Nyong’o. Today, we meet the man behind the sole.

theFashionSpot: Who was the first person you told about your big CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund win last month?

Paul Andrew: My mother, followed by my insatiably hard-working team back in the design studio.

tFS: How did you celebrate?

PA: The boys from Public School, Juan Carlos Obando and Marc Alary, hosted a “Passing of the Torch” party at the Soho Grand. We had such a fun evening!

tFS: You’ve crafted shoes for major RTW designers, including the late Alexander McQueen. What do you remember most from your time with Lee?

PA: Lee’s imagination and creative need for innovation pushed me to think and design outside of tradition. It’s difficult to pull a specific memory from my time at McQueen; it was such an experience working alongside him and Sarah Burton. I am truly fortunate to have had such a formative experience.

tFS: You once said that Diane von Furstenberg is like a surrogate mother to you. What indispensable advice have you learned from her?

PA: Diane is such a wonderful person — so supportive, full of energy and always willing to offer her advice. She is a constant inspiration to me. She’s taught me to believe in myself and to stay true to my original idea.

tFS: American Vogue has championed you from the beginning. What’s your relationship like with Anna Wintour?

PA: Anna and her entire team at Vogue have been nothing but supportive since the moment I launched my collection. Since being part of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, my relationship with Anna evolved further and I am proud to count her as one of the most instrumental people in my career. I am so incredibly grateful to have her support and the sharp eye that expects perfection and pushes me to my creative capacity. 

tFS: How would you describe your personal style?

PA: Paired-down formal with a twist. You rarely catch me on a day that I am not wearing a white T-shirt matched with slim-fit pants, a solid color jacket and lace-up shoes. I feel very comfortable wearing color and print.

tFS: Who are your favorite designers?

PA: For my own wardrobe, I’m drawn to Paul Smith and Dries Van Noten, who always offer something special and unique that’s simultaneously wearable and not ostentatious. I also wear a lot of Theory’s classic pieces as underpinnings.

tFS: When did you first fall in love with shoes?

PA: I’ve been sketching shoes and pulling tear sheets from magazines for as long as I can remember. I think my first memory of wanting to design shoes is linked to my mother. She loves fashion and had deep wardrobes filled with shoes. I specifically remember a pair of red stiletto boots with fringe; I was obsessed with them. I would sit with those boots for hours studying their construction and detail.

tFS: What’s the one pair of shoes you live in?

PA: A pair of black calfskin monk-straps from Church’s. They’re classic yet simultaneously modern and cool.

tFS: Any projects in the pipeline?

PA: For me, shoes are just the beginning. I’m very interested to explore other design categories; men’s footwear and a women’s accessories collection are top of mind.