We make our way to Fulham to meet with the effervescent Camilla Elphick. Her studio is a hodge podge of quirky emojis, brightly coloured stilettos, bright pink neon lights, and pop-art references in every corner. Camilla herself greeted us in a fantastic printed number, and a pair of slides from her own eponymous brand.
The pristine white shelving displayed the most colourful variety of shoes, each one exhibiting Camilla Elphick’s genius touches. From block heels turned into Pez dispensers, to smiley faces embroidered onto metallic chelsea boots, to David and Venus placed perfectly on a black t-strap. And while her label was only launched in 2014, it becomes clear that Camilla Elphick isn’t just a designer to watch, but one of the most exciting new shoe designers in the London fashion scene today.
Where did your interest in fashion begin? What inspired you to start your career in fashion?
From a young age, I was very particular about what I wore, and enjoyed dressing up and styling my outfits. I was delighted, aged 11, when I moved school and no longer had to wear a uniform, this gave me the opportunity to be creative with clothes. My godmother's daughter, India and I decided to make and sell embellished t-shirts, bags, brooches, and even pencil cases at school - India is now a senior stylist at Net-A-Porter. I became very interested in going to galleries such as the V&A and looking at the costumes and fashion exhibitions. I also adored looking around department stores and looking at all of the most beautiful couture collections in Harrods. It was on a trip to Florence I decided I wanted to be in Luisa Via Roma and needed to make that happen - they were our very first stockist.
Your graduate collection in 2013 launched Camilla Elphick into the fashion spotlight. How have your experiences with Parsons School of Design NYC and Cordwainers - London College of Fashion influenced your design and production processes?
My experiences studying fashion and shoe design were invaluable - having the training and understanding how a shoe is made is very important. However, it was only when I began interning for fashion brands that I started understanding more of the commercial side of design, fittings, and production.
What was it like starting out as a young creative in London? What inspired you to start your own label?
London is such a creative city that it is possible to create a brand from nothing. Being a Londoner myself, I felt I had to start my own label in my home-town and I was inspired and encouraged by my friends and family. It has also been particularly useful being able to visit our factories in Europe so easily, even for a quick day trip!
Before launching your eponymous brand, you had a few of prestigious stints at Sophia Webster, Nicholas Kirkwood, Donna Karan, Paul Andrew, and Burberry. How have these experiences helped you approach your own brand?
I feel very lucky to have worked under leading industry shoe designers - I got to see and experience a lot from behind the scenes, which made me envision how it could be with my own brand one day! I learned so much in New York when I worked with Paul Andrew at Donna Karan! Paul gave me lots of useful and helpful advice which I have taken on board.
You were selected for Walpole’s Brand of Tomorrow, becoming one of 12 emerging luxury brands that received invaluable mentorship from industry leaders. Tell us about this experience and how this has helped you with your business?
The Walpole Brands of Tomorrow program has been incredible for the business - they have organised a series of workshops with business professors in branding, lawyers, and even partnered us with mentors, Sebastian Manes and Tania Foster-Brown at Selfridges. They have also helped us develop and expand our network with people within the industry.
How would you describe your aesthetic? What makes Camilla Elphick unique to other up and coming shoe brands?
My aesthetic is feminine and fun - I want to design highly original mood-boosting and desirable shoes that make people smile. The brand is defined by distinctive eye-catching silhouettes and small style details such as witty motifs and heels, which spark conversations.
Sienna Miller, Miley Cyrus, Alexa Chung, and Pandora Sykes are just a few of your many patrons - which range from editors to pop stars. Who would you say is the ideal Camilla Elphick woman?
I always love to see women wear our shoes, it is a really exciting moment when you spot someone in a pair! Our ideal woman is someone who has a sense of humour and loves the brand!
What is next for your brand? What else can we expect from Camilla Elphick in 2017?
We are launching a very lavish collection for AW17 which is inspired by Salvador Dali's cookbook. It is so much fun! We are also designing a range of accessories...watch this space!
Finally, how do you think creators like yourself are changing the London Fashion Scene?
The London Fashion scene will always be what it is, but we are creating and changing some of our shoe designs to adapt to the now fast paced lifestyle in London and the need for comfortable yet cool shoes. We are launching a sneaker line this summer.... I’m thrilled!
Words by Hannah Tan