Many studies suggest that color influences our behavior and our mood. In fact, it’s something that most of us take for granted. However, when it comes to picking out clothes and especially shoes, there are certain preconceived notions that usually bring us back to ‘safe’ colors, colors that will ensure we fit in on any occasion.
Shoe designer Valentini Argyropoulou thinks this needs to change. She wants to use color to overcome shyness and social conventions, and in the long run, to make the world a happier place to live, and rid it of prejudice.
Valentini was born in Greece, where she lived most of her life. After studying fashion there, she won a special award for the creativity and artisanal craft that went into her ‘NewsPaper Pumps’ collection for Athens Fashion Week, 2011. So in 2012, after a year spent interning for one of the most important footwear companies in Greece, she moved to London to continue her studies at the London College of Fashion.
Her shoes are exciting, fresh and daring and they represent her battle with monochrome-ism and boredom when it comes to how we dress our feet.
You can see her Thesis project at the prestigious Virtual Shoe Museum website and ‘Nunfindes’, her marvelous pair of shoes, will be exhibitied in Basel, Switzerland at the Spielzeug Welten Museum beginning this October until April 2015.
At So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins, we decided to get in touch with Valentini and allow ourselves to be infected by her positive attitude and her way of looking at the world in full color.
SO CATCHY!: Why did you choose to study footwear?
VA: Fashion always attracted me. But I never wanted to design ‘just’ clothes. I don’t know how to describe it but my deepest desire was to design shoes. Unfortunately, in Greece footwear design studies almost do not exist. When I was looking desperately for undergraduate studies in footwear I could hardly find one College (sponsored by the government) focused primarily on patterns and construction so I enrolled with no doubt. I had no other option at all. But, in the end, that decision was one of the best I ever made and that 3-years-period one of the most useful experiences in my student life because I learnt how to deal with the footwear field as a whole, not just as a designer or illustrator.
SC!: Tell us about your last project (Master´s Project): Upside Down.
VA: My MA Final collection (my last project) is inspired by Ancient Greek Civilization and, at the same time, its construction is taken from ancient Greek footwear methodologies. My primary research includes ancient documents, historical references, sculptures, murals and a few other sources. Trying to ‘translate’ extinct techniques from the soldiers’ flat shoes to contemporary footwear manufacture and high heel shoes was a high-standard motivation for me, which was achieved through research, experiments and innovative changes of the basic traditional footwear methodologies and techniques. The collection titled ”UpSide Down” defines, literally and also metaphorically, the irregularity of the designing, closing and making process. Additionally, a key element of the collection development, were the colors, with combinations potentially affecting our mood in a positive way, as was also stated in my dissertation survey, responded to by more than 550 women.
SC!: What are your doing at the moment?
VA: I just finished an internship and I have enrolled in a millinery course. I strongly believe that the more (handmade primarily) techniques you get familiar with, the better designer /artist you become by applying what you were taught into your designs.
SC!: Are you selling your pieces, I mean, the ones you created for your last projects?
VA: I wont sell my MA Collection (as I usually do for my ‘creative’ pairs) but before my postgraduate studies, I was selling my wearable line designs, bespoke shoes, bridal, etc. Now, after an internship in a British company called Fabulously Fetish, I aim to start my own wearable line again for the next season.
SC!: How would you describe the style of your wearable line of shoes?
VA: As far as my wearable lines go, my shoes are colorful strange designs that can be worn by women of different styles, ages and status. Ankle boots, pumps, platforms, flip-flops and many others are included in this category. I do not enjoy limiting myself so I do not plan or have any idea of what kind of shoes or designs will ‘come’ into my mind for the next season. Of course due to that, I have been chided by my tutors many times in the past but, as I mentioned, I believe in a free-of-rules design process! It is rational that prices can vary and I cannot even give you an average price. However, the minimum price can not be under 120 (except for flip-flops) because each pair is unique and handmade and, even if there is a full range of the same design sizes, for instance 4 – 8 (EU 37-41) they will have at least one different detail, like the lining color for example, that makes them completely unique.
On the other hand my creative pairs are limited editions because they usually can not be worn and they are made on request (for photoshoots, theatre etc.) or for specific purposes when they act as ”sculptures”, expressing something.
SC!: Do you plan to open your own online shop?
VA: Yes, this is the priority for me for the next year. But I aim to launch something different, not just one more online shop, but a platform that will underline and promote ‘individual diversity’.
SC!: It sounds great!
VA: It wont be just an e-shop. It will be a platform with a stylist, color consultant etc. who will answer to individual questions about the style but with an ”advanced” level, not just if something is fashionable or not this season!, and they will promote a different approach to the colorful style. Something beyond ”black makes me slimmer” or ”black fits everything” for instance so in the end, everyone will feel more ”secure” and confident to express his or her diversity wearing the color combinations they want without fear of criticism for instance.
And of course here in London this does not happen anyway, everyone wears everything, but in other countries, such as mine, criticism and a lack of confidence due to the others is REALLY COMMON! So they do not express themselves and they do not accept the others’ diversity either!
SC!: Your impossible dream is…
VA: My designs are colorful and unusual shoes that could potentially lead to a ‘happier’ fashion world and style which points towards to the externalization of everyone’s diversity. 55 % of the responders to my color survey believe that wearing or seeing someone else wearing a certain color or color combination could make us cheer up, however, almost the same percentage have and wear many more black / grey clothes and shoes than any other color! Probably from insecurity, probably from existing ‘bulkheads’ like ‘black makes me slimmer’, ‘grey is safe’ etc. Or for fear that they will be judged for choosing to be different? Maybe it sounds silly but this is my dream… just to add a bit more color (and happiness!) to our lives. … And such small changes, even in style, and even daring to wear a color that we like but we’re shy, except more joyfully and freely, probably lead us to become more open-minded to other issues of diversity and acceptance on the one hand and the ‘courage’ to highlight an issue on the other, such as racism, different skin colors, people with disabilities, the ‘rules’ of social gender, homosexuality, unconventional lifestyles, etc. Generally speaking, respect for everyone’s personality and nature and their way of exteriorizing… A happier and more fair world… Ok, you asked for an ‘impossible’ dream!!
SC!: Do you have any hobbies?
VA: I love travelling and I organize small trips even if it is just for 1 or 2 days. I like travelling alone or with someone who enjoys walking and discovering new places as much as I do!
SC!: Your favorite Footwear Designer is….
VA: A crazy artist… Cobi Levi! He is just amazing! My favorite brands are United Nude and Irregular Choice! Also, I love Camilla Skovgaard and Olympia Charlotte.
SC!: Websites that you couldn’t live without?
VA: Fashionising and Not Just A Label.
If you want to know more about Valentini Argyropoulou’s day to day life, you can follow her fan pages on Facebook at Farfalla In Plattino where you can see her line of commercial footwear and at Valentini Argyropoulou where she has her more artistic designs.
Want to see more of Valentini’s work? Scroll down!
Translated by Michael Padilla