|photo: Gunther Vansteelant|
In 2010 she graduated in civil engeneering at KU in Leuven and in 2014 she graduated in footwear design at Academy of Fine Arts Sint-Niklaas. Because of the two completely different educations, she has a very wide spectrum of interests and set of skills.
You can see and buy Katrien Herdewyn's work at the Designer Market. Friday July 1 open at 18:30 and Saturday July 2 open at 16:00 (free entrance).
When did you realize you wanted to be a designer? How long have you been designing shoes?
As long as I can remember I was obsessed with shoes. For some time, I designed and made clothes, because it making shoes without the right machinery is very difficult. Only at the age of 23 I shifted back from clothes to shoes.
What are your main achievements in your career at this moment?
The startup and launch of my own commercial brand after I graduated at the art academy in Belgium, is for me the biggest milestone. I recently became start-up of the year in Belgium and was selected as international designer at TheMicam shoe fair, which are both achievements I am also very proud of.
In what projects are you involved at this moment?
Apart from my own brand where I create a new collection every half year, I also collaborate with fashion students for the development of shoes matching their clothing collection. Next, I also invest much time in workshops and talks, especially for children and youngsters, to think outside the box and develop all their talents.
Who are your artistic influences or inspirations and why?
Victor Horta and Hundertwasser. They are both very different, one clean and sharp, the other more asymmetrical and chaotic, but they both create natural works and lines. Their work is easy to love, even at the age of 4. I love it how they create something big with so much detail.
I’ve always had too much ideas, everything around me inspires me. The laws of nature and the elegance of the human body, expressed for example in ballet, are the two sources that spark my creativity the most.
What challenges did you face during the design process?
The most difficult design challenge for me in shoes, is also the most interesting one. You have to wear it, be comfortable in it, walk in it. That imposes restrictions on your designs, but it also makes it more challenging. That is why I love designing shoes so much.
What do you want to communicate with your designs in general?
That there is more to a person, but also to things and what we see around us than what is visible. Behind buildings are people, behind looks is a personality, behind a flower is an ingenious natural process. Behind Elegnano shoes is also much more than just a shoe.
Can you tell us something about the project you will present at the FASHIONCLASH Festival?
At FASHIONCLASH Festival I will show my lotus flower collection of Elegnano. Elegnano is the brand I created to integrate the secrets of nature in elegant shoes.
What does your collection try to communicate (what is it about)?
The brand and collection is best summarized in the quote: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. I create footwear that is elegant, you should feel elegant in, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be strong and powerful too.
Why have you decided to participate at FASHIONCLASH Festival?
I got part of my education in footwear design in the Netherlands. There I got in touch with a lot of designers who already participated enthusiastically in FASHIONCLASH. That is how I got to know about the festival. This is the first year that I felt I had created something myself that I wanted to show at FASHIONCLASH.
What can we expect from you at the festival?
Colorful and happy shoe-discovery
Can you tell us something about your heritage?
I am born and raised in Belgium, but via my mother I am Italian. Somehow I always feel at home there, it feels like I can breathe when I am there, even though I usually am in Italy for work. I think it is my true home.
How is the theme Heritage related to your work (can be also preferred to previous work)?
My shoedesigns are inspired by nature, more specifically the lotus flower. Nothing special there, but the inspiration goes much further than just what’s visible. Nature offered us a lot of knowledge. Humanity is still exploring how it all works. I did a PhD study in Nanotechnology, focusing on the secrets of nature and creation of new materials. The lotus flower is one of those secrets that was discovered by scientists a few decades ago. This flower stays immaculately clean, even in the dirtiest pools. The reason is the leafs of the flower that look and feel soft and smooth, but are actually rough and full of little pillars on a very small scale (the nanoscale). I worked together with scientists and industry to create this characteristic of the lotus flower on delicate and fine leather. The shoes in my Elegnano collection are all made with this specially developed natural leather, so they cannot get dirty or wet anymore in the mud, rain, snow… In some way, my shoes inherited everything from the lotus flower, not only their looks, but also what’s beyond what you can see.
(How) do you reflect your personal heritage into your design(s)?
My Italian bloodline is not only visible in my personal looks; it is also omnipresent in my work. My shoes are made with materials from Italy and produced by real Italian artisans. Also when it comes to the design, most connoisseurs say that – despite the fact that I am Belgian – they are far closer to Italian design than Belgian design.
If you could trade your heritage, for what would you trade it?
That is a really hard question, I don’t think I would trade it. It is what makes a person who he/she is. Sometimes I wish I could live 100s of years ago in my own heritage.
Describe yourself in three words.
Creative, Scientific, Elegant
What’s a standard day for you?
Get up, have breakfast, check and answer e-mails, social media… check my to do list and start the work of the day (designing, inventory, material selection,
preparations for a fair, sales, marketing…), lunch usually happens quickly while working, have dinner, work some more and go to sleep.
Vegan, vegetarian, healthy diet or any food will do?
Any food will do, although most of my friends will call it a healthy diet.
What’s your favourite song, food and movie/TV-show at the moment?
Moriarty – Jimmy; cherries; Zootopia
What is your bad habit?
Eating ice cream for breakfast
Are you a people's person or a loner?
Do you have a pet?
What’s your favourite city?
Are you going on holiday this year? If so, where are you going?
If work-holidays count, yes, I am going to New York and Boston.
What/Who do you miss the most when you are not at home?
Who are your target consumers? - How do you define them?
My target consumer fit in our motto: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. You can be elegant and resilient at the same time. Every woman who likes to show who she is and stands strong, although her looks might be deceiving.
What is your price range? - How do you balance between the function of the items and the appearance of them?
The shoes are in the high price range (around 500 €). Quality is key at Elegnano. Although the current collection consists of stilettos, they are developed and made to be comfortable. You only have to try them. The specific heel design, is not only a design element inspired by the lotus flower, but also technically engineered that it gives you extra stability and takes away the wobbly feeling you get when normally standing on stilettos. The same holds for the delicate soft leather. It seems very difficult to maintain, but thanks to the (nano)technology borrowed from the lotus flower, you don’t even have to clean the shoes anymore and can dance with them in the rain. Looks and appearance can be deceiving…
Read more about Katrien and her brand here: http://www.elegnano.com/