From her days as a buyer at well known high street shoe store, Office, to her esteemed role as Creative Director of Italian brand, Ennio Mecozzi, Anita Flavin has been the representative of Irish creative talent for many years. Her shoes are coveted by Amal Clooney and inspirational women around the globe. Here, she dishes on all things footwear, from her humble beginnings in the industry to being a sought-after shoe maven.
How did you first begin working in the footwear industry?
After graduating in Fashion Management Business and Finance from the London College of Fashion I lived in Aspen, Colorado. It was here that I became part of the Obermeyer team which is the USA’s second in ski and snow boarding wear. Here, my world of business fashion became infused my creative talents.
Upon my return to London I identified that the footwear fashion scene was beginning to rock the world by its foundations and being a woman to revel in excitement, I placed myself on London’s monopoly board at Office, London. Their buying and design department back then was the cutting edge of footwear fashion and hence my life in footwear commenced.
What have been your biggest accomplishments in this industry to date?
I take great pride in grading my work by the women who wear my shoes. Therefore, I was deeply honoured when I was requested on behalf of the Northern Ireland government to be the representative of the creative talent in Ireland. I designed a beautiful pair of purple patent shoes with Swarovski crystals specially for Michelle Obama.
At the end of October 2015, Italian shoemaking artisan Ennio Mecozzi, approached me to become Creative Director in an international luxury ladies footwear brand. I recognised this venture was the perfect partnership to represent the quality of my design philosophy and enabling me to present the collections in its righteous place among the crème dell a crème of shoe heaven.
This role has given me access to work with the finest resources of the footwear industry. I was deeply honoured to be offered this role. Since we commenced working on Ennio Mecozzi, I have now been offered a stake in the company and am also a shareholder of the brand name.
At the end of last year I directed, styled and curated our video ‘Made for Women of Passion, Power and Substance’. This video has opened many doors for Ennio Mecozzi into the most influential fashion companies both press and retailers in London, Milan, New York and the Middle East. The video was 100% curated in Ireland. We used Irish models, production and venue every detail is stamped with a shamrock. I have had amazing feedback from around the world now our video is recognised internationally as advocate for creative talent in Ireland.
You’ve moved from Buyer to Creative Director, what has inspired your love for shoe design?
For my inspiration I carry a journal with me constantly devising a wish list for each season of designs, patterns, colours and textures that inspire me.
These inspirations come from places I visit and the culture that lies within, movies I watch books and magazines I read and the inspiration I find therein.
Inspiration can come from everywhere and everything. Nature is a great source of inspiration especially because of the colours. I love architecture, buildings and art.
Once I return to Italy I source ideas on my wish list by visiting the tanneries, heel and accessory houses. I set the scene by visualising who the woman is, how she will feel when she slips the shoes on her feet, what occasion she will wear her shoes to and how she will style her look.
When designing a collection the woman I have in mind to wear Ennio Mecozzi for me is a beautiful woman of subsistence, passion and power. I connect with how she wishes to feel when she slips on Ennio Mecozzi, I appeal to the women I am designing for by ensuring the silhouettes I have designed for her are most flattering to the shape of her feet and legs, also appealing to her playfulness. I touch her senses through fun, alluring and sophisticated combinations of colours, leathers and textures.
Amal Clooney has been recognised as a lover of your brand Ennio Mecozzi, who else would you most like to see wearing your shoes?
I love to see every woman of passion, power and substance wear our shoes. I love when a woman wears Ennio Mecozzi and sends me a photo. This enables me to build a connection with my customers. I then put her onto my inspirational board for future collections. In terms of celebrities, I am inspired by women like Angelina Jolie and Oprah Winfrey.
Is there anything you’d like to see more of in shoe design?
The footwear industry has totally evolved since I commenced working in it. It is has gone from the early days of footwear production being made mostly in Europe to Chinese production. The face of the high street changed dramatically with the rise of Penny’s and Topshop.
I am a luxury woman at heart and what I see now coming through is a return to focusing on the luxury part of the business. Recently the Victoria and Albert Museum in London had a footwear exhibition which was very informative and appealed to a broad spectrum of people. I would love to see and be involved in more of these kinds of events.
Also with emerging markets the style of footwear design that women love is opening up a whole new dimension of an area of playfulness for my designs which I am really looking forward to embracing.
Will there be any exciting projects or collaborations in the near future?
From next season onwards I have designed all Ennio Mecozzi footwear with a distinguished royal blue sole. And we are currently developing a pattern for the sole.
We have lots of very exciting projects coming up. The luxury market is evolving with emerging markets and by 2020, will change the face of luxury footwear brands.
We are working on lots of new ventures and partnerships.
For more from Anita, pick up a copy of the April issue of IMAGE, on shelves Friday, March 18.