Earlier this month, while New York Fashion Week runway shows continued down below at the Lincoln Center, another kind of special event was taking place directly across the street. Shoe designer Ivy Kirzhner had her own debut presentation of her namesake collection. Nestled in a corner suite on the tenth floor of the historic Empire Hotel was an array of beautiful shoes with 18 carat gold detailing, Egyptian emblems, and semi-precioius stones. When I met Ivy, she was wearing a fashion forward Nicole Miller military jacket with floral detailing which showed that she knows how to make a powerful statement and is not afraid to take chances with her style. Upon her feet were gold BCBGMAZAZRIA mens-wear inspired shoes which told me she also appreciates stylish comfort. She personally took me around and introduced different elements of her shoe line. I was instantly attracted to Ivy’s attention to detail and her easy going personallity. Every embellishment, every stitch was carefully planned and executed. The fine craftsmanship of each pair of shoes shows her dedication to her work and commitment to quality. Beautiful art deco detailing lined the backs of suede heels in bold sunset hues. Mint green made it's mark in both her heel and ballet flats. Egyptian inspired emblems adorned the front of leather wedges.
During my visit to Ivy's debut presentation, I was able to get to know her history as a designer a bit better and what propelled her to start such a stunning collection....
Laura: Tell me about your line:
Ivy: I am trying to address the luxury contemporary footwear market right now. We have a lot of cool designers like Rag & Bone and Alexander Wang. Lots of edgy cool street wear, but what happened to the girls that want to wear pretty dresses? What do they wear for shoes? I always think what are the girls wearing? There is always the beautiful Grecian, maxi, and silk chiffon dresses. Okay so what are the shoes that go with it? I wanted to do something simple and embellished. I like playing around with ornaments, jewelry, crystals and artichecture. I wanted to do something blingy, but not too much so it took me a while to get this perfect combination of crystal so that it did not look like a crystal ball. I love art deco, neo-classical, Greek and Egyptian ornamentations. Being a New Yorker, the Empire State, gotham really collimated during the art deco era and so for the debut collection I wanted to pay tribute to that.
Laura: The sole of the footbed looks a bit different than normal shoes. Can you tell me about that?
Ivy: That is called the almaphy sock. It is a signature in my collection. Not a lot of designers do it because it is very expensive. But actually to me it is incredibly important. It is padded, cushioned, and it's pretty.
Laura: Did you always love shoes more than anything else?
Ivy: You know, I have always loved fashion. My dad is an architech and an engineer and I have always been interested in those industries as well. So what is a career that is a combination of all of those? Shoes.
Laura: Do you eventually want to do a clothing line such as women's ready-to-wear?
Ivy: I actually did some collaborations. I wanted an interpretation of Greco-Roman, Grecian dresses that works with the lines of the shoes so the dress our model is wearing is actually part of that collection. But I could see myself doing more collabroations versus an actual line under my name only because I am a shoe designer first. I don't think anyone wears clothes, shoes and accessories all by the same designer, they mix and match. I have always thought, I am going to stick to shoes and maybe do collaborations with other desgingers to do things like jewelry and clothing.
Laura: When did you start working on this line?
Ivy: Only, three months ago. It is a typical development lead time. It just occurred to me at that time. I was not planning on having a shoe line. What happened was, I had a fashion blog and it started progressing. I started drawing portraits of shoes and incorporating art and culture. And then finally someone mentioned to me that I should start an actual collection. They told me that I have a very distinct type of asthetic and it needs to come out.
Laura: Did you begin your career with BCBGMAXAZRIA?
Ivy: I actually started with Dolce Vita which is what propelled my career. It was a young company when I came in. They needed a new designer to grow with it, and I grew too much. So I transferred over to the Vince Camuto Group to do BCBGMAZAZRIA. I talked to friends and I said, I think it is time to do for my own line. This was back in May. The Camuto group gave me special permission to do this. They offered me support, but I wanted a personal challenge. Not just being a deisgner, but really being someone who can really grow as an entrepreneur, set up a business and everything independently, both operationally and logistically.
Laura: Are you still part of the Camuto Group?
Ivy: Yes, as a consultant for BCBG. Luba and I have a good relationship and they approached me to do Herve Leger and bring it to the Camuto Group. We are still talking, I have not said yes. It is all about personal relationships. The industry is my family, I have been in it for 10 years now. It is funny because my very first job was actually with Steve Madden to do retail design for them and that is how I met the Dolce Vita boys. They used to work with Steve Madden as vendors and that is how they discovered me. The Vita boys asked me to cross over and work for them. I feel very blessed to have gone through these different brands because they are all different, amazing and competitive. It would be fun to see all of them at a dinner table. It is kind of like a dysfuctional family.
Laura: What is particularly special about working for BCBGMAXAXRIA?
Ivy: Working for BCBG changed me as a designer. They are just fantastic. I saw emotion, power, creativity and business savviness in everything in that line. I have the deepest respect for Luba and Max and the creative directors there just really know what they are doing. There is no gimmick. A lot of fashion brands these days are propelled by an influencer and is successful because of that one thing. But BCBG has substance. When I first came into their corporation, I saw how thing are done from every detail. The force and vision behind it, really changed me.
I know that I am not alone in looking forward to seeing more from designer Ivy Kirzhner.
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Photography by: Laura Yazdi
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