… beautiful, crazy, unusual, strange, funny, particular. I don’t know, it’s difficult to fit the work of Israeli footwear designer – Kobi Levi, into a genre or a certain aesthetic category. And, I admit, I’m always intrigued by things that somehow manage to skip the traditional hierarchy.
Blurring the line between fashion, art, design, traditional craftsmanship and avant-garde, Kobi’s pieces are difficult to ignore. His “Double Boots” are already famous for being worn by Gaga in “Born this way”, but there are other, lots of interesting, surprising stuff he needs to be appreciated for! Levi graduated from Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, Jerusalem, and works as a freelance designer, manufacturing every pair of these spectacular shoes. He is currently based in Tel-Aviv – I would be really curious about his studio!
Anyway, I was delighted to ask him some questions about this fantastic body of work, and he was kind enough to talk to Fashion Salad about it:
You’re a talented fashion designer. Is there a certain reason for choosing shoes as a creative ground?
Shoes are my “design language”, my form of self-expression. Unlike other forms of art or design where the creation is placed on display and stays there, shoes can come to life when they are worn on the feet. With shoe-design it’s possible to create another organ which relates to the body. You can actually transform the appearance without changing the basic shape of the body. I think this is also the reason that people from all ages and places love shoes. They are easy to relate to.
What’s the most important feature of a well-made shoe?
A good construction, which supports the feet, is very important. Of course personally I prefer an interesting design as well.
Your pieces are entirely handmade. This sounds really eccentric nowadays. It’s similar with the concept of “couture”. Do you want to preserve this method or are you already searching for alternatives?
There are many advantages for hand-made products. Sure there is a lot of work involved and this makes the shoes more expensive. But, on the other hand, they are unique, tailor-made and you feel like they were created especially for you.
In the near future I will continue with producing hand-made pairs only. Maybe later on I will look for large-scale production solutions.
You already defined your way as a designer. I appreciate the concept, but mostly I’m amazed by the color, humor and the soul of your work. Your shoes are pretty “alive”- is this the core of your design?
Yes! It’s really important to me that the shoes communicate with the viewer/wearer. It’s great to see that they attract people from all ages and cultures. A while ago a friend told me about his 18 month old daughter, who recognized the Toucan style and laughed out loud. This gives me great satisfaction.
Do you care about fashion trends? I can see your inspiration comes from elsewhere, not from the world of shoe design…
My designs are not affected or inspired by trends. There are endless sources of inspiration in the world. Why should I limit myself in any way?
Do you have any favorite fashion designers? ( apart from the world of shoes?)
Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen.
You define your shoes both as objects/sculptures and wearables. How important is the Body?
Of course it’s important. We all have it, right?
As I explained before, a shoe can become a designed extension of the body, but it can’t replace it or cover it.
Who wears you shoes? Or who would you like to wear them?
My costumers are people who appreciate the unique design and have a good sense of humor. You can’t be too serious if you wear banana-shaped slippers….
Honestly I would like to sell the designs at retails shops everywhere. But at this time the cost is high and that is not possible.
How do you see your projects in a world ruled by fast-fashion and mass-serialization? What do you think about the emerging technologies? Are you interested in rapid-prototyping?
Mass production has great benefits. However, when you see the same mega-chain stores everywhere you go, some people become bored and look for something fresh and new. In this respect there are great advantages for production on small scale.
Technology can serve the production process and simplify it and that is great. As I said, it would be nice to bring fun designs to every household. But we are a long way from that point. Shoe making is a complicated process and many things still have to be made by hand.
How do you see the future of fashion?
Fashion is all about re-inventing trends. In this respect it is not very eco-friendly, because you always have to throw away the old to make room for the new. I prefer to value things due to their originality and quality and not due to the logo on them. For me creation is more interesting then fashion.
find more images on Kobi’s blog.