Once you see these shoes, you need them! Juliet Robot is brilliant and with this interview she will show you her amazing and colorful word.“Since I was young, I’ve preferred making things to drawing. While other girls coloured in picture books, I liked cutting out paper dolls. When I decided to learn shoe-making, I approached it from this desire for making and constructing. I was lucky to start in a workshop, rather than a fashion illustration course, though I did study that later. I studied at the workshop for 2 years, and it was incredibly fulfilling to turn the objects I imagine into real life.
To make quality shoes, I want to learn more from master craftspeople. I also have a desire for design as much as for making, but I couldn’t compare my making skills with that of the masters. That’s why I’ve begun Juliet Robot by working with expert makers in a factory in Seongsu-dong, the shoe-making district in Seoul. It’s a real opportunity to learn more. Making quality shoes is not a short-term project. It’s my strongest motivation.”
What’s the concept of your latest collection?
To be different from a regular shoe silhouette, exaggerating it to create different volumes. I really like structures in fashion design. I also like to play with colour, and it’s very interesting to me because those two things can conflict. If you look at the colours of my shoes, they can be bright and girlish, but if you just focus on the silhouette, they’re quite strong. My work combines these two opposing elements to make a new synthesis.
What inspires you the most? I really like photos, illustration, art, and fashion that focus on combining colours in new ways. One of my favourite sources for this is film: Grand Budapest Hotel, Park Chanwook’s The Handmaiden, Suspiria, The Shining – colour plays a huge role in establishing the mood for all of these stories. Recently, I’ve connected with a fashion blogger, Amy Roiland, who loves my shoes. Her work really matches my aesthetics and gives me a lot of inspiration about the kind of playful, deep moods I want to create.
How do you choose your materials and how do you work with them? I choose materials that motivate me to make things. For example, to make my Voluminous Pink heels, I chose a patent pink leather that stimulated my imagination. It led me to ask, what kind of content matches with this leather? It’s not soft, it strongly reflects the light. The material qualities create the idea of structure. The concept comes from the material, not the other way round.
I also really enjoy working with different dimensions, 2D and 3D. I don’t want to follow natural shapes. If we see objects, there are so many elements we can find in them. For example, if I see a flower, I want to work with its shape synthetically, to make it unreal or even surreal. I look at how its shapes attach to each other, how the parts are laid out, how the colours works together or contrast with each other. I don’t like taking something as it is. I think the task of a designer is to deconstruct and recombine objects in new ways.
What’s the future of fashion according to you? Fashion includes very creative, artistic acts for both designers and customers. As individuals, we can enjoy art and music as a reflection of our individual taste, but they’re private. in fashion, you can demonstrate your taste by wearing it, so it’s a strong tool to express who you are.
These days customers don’t care too much about famous brands: they choose what they value, rather than what others tell them to. Fashion is like a blank canvas, and you choose how you want to fill it. As people feel more comfortable about their choices, there will be more space for creative small designers, who make content that young people can empathize with.
As for my own future, I want to concentrate on my vision, because I don’t have it in me to design whatever the trend du jour is. If I create something and people accept it or find value in it, then there’s space for both us of, the designer and customer, to be free and independent. Of course I’m also affected by trends, and there are many popular designers I admire who are unique, but also know who people like. For example, Pushbutton is a big label in South Korea now, but they’ve been around for a while. Since I first learned about them in my 20s, I always thought they were unique, I loved their strong silhouettes and bright colours, but not many people knew about them. Now they’re huge because they kept their vision. That’s what I want to do, too.
What’s your next project? I’ve just launched my first collection, which focuses on projecting a mood of strength and playfulness. I’ll take some details from that for my next project. I’ll also take a natural element – like flowers, animals, insects – and keep experimenting with different colours to create unreal, artificial and futuristic shapes.