Barely a few hours had passed between the moment Alejandra Simonetta posted her Master’s project for the London College of Fashion and the moment that we cracked and contacted her; we simply couldn’t wait any longer. We wanted to get to know her more and have her tell us about her project: External Bones.
“External Bones” is an assortment of deconstructed footwear that allows you to see the individual parts. Alejandra had asked herself: Can the “internal bone”- the shank of the shoe – be replaced externally providing the same functions of support, protection and balance, as well as providing new aesthetic functions? The project is based on externalizing the different parts in such a way that we can see how it’s made, from the shank of the shoe or base support of a high heel. Her research led her to see the importance of this piece as the skeleton of a shoe and how it could serve as the jumping off point for new types of soles for heels.
A typical shank
Her work impressed Jimmy Choo of the Cordwainers Dato’ Jimmy Choo Awards enough to win. The award consists of two scholarships every year that cover the costs of manufacturing shoes for the students’ Master’s projects.
Alejandra, 27 years old and from Argentina, has just finished her Master’s in Fashion Footwear from the London College of Fashion. In her native city of Córdoba, she also studied fashion design before decided to focus on footwear and working for a time in the field. After a time, it became her passion and while travelling in Europe with some friends and attending courses, she arrived in London and she didn’t go back.
At So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins we are amazed by External Bones and we were lucky to be able to chat with the creator of these incredible shoes.
SC!: What are you up to now?
AS: Well, I did an internship for a men’s footwear brand called Noose and Monkey and although I started working for free, in the end they paid me and now I do freelance for them. At the moment, I’m working on a summer collection, which will be presented in February. When I finish with that, I’d like to look for something a bit more “full time”.
Warm and Cold
SC!: Tell us about your project: External Bones.
AS: External Bones started with the shoe called “Warm and Cold”, which I had made before starting the project. The rigid white piece that you see is made with fiberglass and plaster and is 100% traditional.
My research started with the importance of the shank, the internal metal piece that forms the skeleton of the shoe. From there, I started working with the idea that the white piece looked like an exposed bone while the shank is really an internal piece. I wanted to expose it. I should mention looked at a lot of architecture; I love Santiago Calatrava, for example. The externalization process seemed interesting.
I want to make sure that I thank my tutor, Eelko Moorer and the technicians at the LCF who helped me so much with the project.
SC!: What materials did you use?
AS: For the “bones” (the shank) I used laser-cut, hand-polished stainless steel. The white part is orthopedic thermoplastic and a prosthesis. I used plaster to give it the porcelain-like finish. For the soft parts, I used resins and salmon leather from Chile.
Warm and Cold
SC!: How do you feel after getting your work out there?
AS: I love it. I have to admit that it took a long time to polish the stainless steel, I’m almost going to miss it. I had had enough but when I saw the images, I loved it. So I put it up and not much later you got in touch with me and I got an offer for work…
SC!: What does your work bring to the world of footwear?
AS: The possibility of developing new types of soles, a new esthetic to liven up the field and new materials.
SC!: You worked with Silvia Fado to develop her hydraulic heels in a collaboration with the graduate courses. Is your footwear contributing to making shoes more comfortable in general?
AS: The shank is only used in heeled shoes. Anything that is more than 2.5 cm high is no longer considered comfortable or ergonomic and my work doesn’t get into that. The thing with Silvia was interesting because she worked with shock absorption. Mine is more about deconstructing the shoe in order to create new forms.
SC!: What would you like to do now?
AS: Work full time and design women’s shoes.
SC!: Would you like to have your own brand?
AS: Yes, but first I’d like to work for different brands with different styles that are aimed at different kinds of people.
SC!: Footwear designers who you like…
AS: Iris Van Herpen.
SC!: What kind of shoes does a footwear designer wear?
AS: I don’t like colors, always leather. I’m tall so I don’t wear heels that are higher than 4 centimeters, round toed, minimalist and androgynous.
SC!: What websites do you like?
AS: Style.com and the websites of the designers that I like.
Photos by Riccardo Nieddu
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla