London's fashion scene is renowned for its playful, irreverent style and there's one rising shoe designer who perfectly encapsulates the capital's colourful, fun approach to fashion. 27-year-old Camilla Elphick's CV is as glowing as they get, training under footwear heavyweights Nicholas Kirkwood, Sophia Webster and Charlotte Olympia after attending Parsons University in New York and Cordwainers, UAL, in London. Her graduate shoe collection, ‘So Bad It’s Good’ received international acclaim with the standout ‘Pez’ shoe, prompting her to launch her eponymous label for SS15.
Fast-forward a few years and Elphick's creations have been worn by Alexa Chung, Leandra Medine, Kendall Jenner and Chloë Grace Moretz, and earlier this week the designer showcased her latest AW17 collection at London Fashion Week with a Surreal Shoe Soirée at L'Escargot in Soho.
We headed to Elphick's west London HQ to take a look around her studio and discuss building her own brand.
You attended Parsons in New York and Cordwainers in London, but when did your love affair with shoes truly begin?
It was in New York I realised I had a love affair with shoes. It was obvious, really – I still have my fist pair of shoes from Startrite and have been building an extensive collection since. I wanted to design my own shoe collection and decided to apply to Cordwainers at the London College of Fashion.
You launched your label with a SS15 collection just a few years back. What do you think has been the key to your success?
I think the key to the collection’s success and now of the brand’s success, is that our shoes are eye-catching and most importantly, they make people smile. There is something nostalgic, feminine and fun about the shoes which I love and I think this resonates with our customers.
What have been the biggest lessons you've learnt since launching your eponymous line?
As a young brand, we are learning as we go and have to adapt quickly to customer’s needs – one example being that so many clients wanted to come to the studio to try on shoes in person, we have now dedicated part of the studio to a small retail space where clients can come by and try on various sizes and discuss other things such as bespoke designs for weddings and personalised PEZ shoes.
What was it like training under Nicholas Kirkwood and Sophia Webster?
It was wonderful to work with such talented shoe designers in a fast-paced and creative environment. It was so important to see how all aspects of the business come together.
Who have been the biggest influences on you personally and professionally?
Charlotte Olympia has influenced me personally with her kindness, encouragement and generosity when she helped me produce my graduate collection.
Your shoes are handcrafted in Italy. Has Brexit affected you at all?
Yes, they are made in Milan but fortunately nothing has changed or affected our production.
What would be your advice for someone starting out in design?
I would advise someone who is starting out in design to enrol themselves on as many interesting courses as possible, apply to internships for brands they admire and to find a course or degree to study on.
Do you think there is enough support for young British designers?
Yes, there is a lot of support in the UK for young British designers. We have applied for awards and grants who offer business advice and who have helped us grow the brand.
Who do you design for?
Women who want feminine, eye-catching shoes and who have a good sense of humour and like [things] that make them smile.