PhilosophyIn Chie Mihara's own words, she doesn't sell shoes, she wants to transfer an emotion, and try to make her shoes "really fun, really feminine", so when women look at them they say "I have to have them". And she is right.
For her, comfort and design are married together, not 50%-50%, but 100%-100%, that is why she has borrowed many elements from menswear shoes (we know gentlemen notoriously refuse not being comfortable... why not women?), that's why her shoes offer anatomic support and the fitting process is so important for her.
Chie Mihara's Shoes by Caroline Grant. Her collection includes a lot of mid-heels which are, in her own words, a challenge to create. This is very true, especially when you consider what most designers have been doing for a decade now: insanely high heels, an obsession that has led a reknown fashion editor to be carried to a show by her bodyguards because she couldn't walk in her shoes. While I can very well celebrate the Cleopatra-esque lifestyle some women are enjoying nowadays. I do think 4-6" high-heeled shoes are really the easy way out for many designers, as there is no thought paid (or money invested) in fitting and construction for comfort.
After the break: inspiration and creative process, and some sets!!
Inspiration and creative processBeing born in Brazil from Japanese parents, moved to New York as an adult but has now lived in Spain for a decade, all those influences are patent in her designs. Her shoes are "made of parts": the feminine part is for Brazil, the quality part is for Spain, the "different" part is for Japan, and the practical part, the comfort, is for the US.
To create a collection - although she doesn't like to talk as much as collections as of "exhausting" an idea-, she thinks of the different combinations that she likes that could go into a series of shoes, and she doesn't stop until she has created all of them.
She uses cutout paper shoes and places them over magazines to find attractive and unexpected colour combinations, then glues the interesting ones to paper and keeps on looking. She also plays with pieces of leather over her feet, seeing how one little element can change everything.
I recognize myself in that process, which is very similar to that of a child playing with paper dolls: usually a Polyvore set takes me more than two hours to make, I am obsessive and move everything around until it is absolutely perfect, I think about wearability and affordability, as well as the proportions, the colours, the composition..., so I understand very well what she is talking about. I hope these sets below, named after her designs, make justice to her wonderful shoes...