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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Nina Dolcetti: an interview with ethical shoe designer Elisalex Grunfeld de Castro

She's wowed the likes of Laura Bailey with her curvaceous shoe designs and I wore a pair at my launch party: meet shoe designer Elisalex Grunfeld de Castro... in this excerpt of her interview in Amelia's Compendium of Fashion Illustration.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Martina Spetlova S/S 2011 by Krister Selin
Martina Spetlova S/S 2011 by Krister Selin.

Fashion designer Martina Spetlova hails from Bohemia in the southern part of the Czech Republic. She studied Chemistry and Biology at university in Prague before coming to London where she was accepted onto a print design BA at Central Saint Martins, sickness despite the absence of a portfolio. Having recently graduated from her MA she is now working on her second collection. En route she has won several prestigious competitions. Studying for an MA at Central Saint Martins seems to open doors.

During her year out from Central Saint Martins she set up a fairtrade embroidery network with women in Pakistan, stuff spending six months living in the area to network between communities and fashion designers, which was great fun but also a lot of responsibility. There was an exhibition in London but sadly the project didn’t last much longer after she left. I am now busy with my own label but I hope to incorporate similar projects into my work in the future. Thanks to her print design background Martina is able to fund her label from the sale of her printed textile designs and she also teaches pattern cutting to a small group of ladies…

Read the rest of this interview and see more illustrations of Martina Spetlova’s clothing in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, alongside interviews with 44 other ethical fashion designers and 30 fabulous fashion illustrators. You can buy the book here.
Nina Dolcetti by Natsuki Otani
Nina Dolcetti by Natsuki Otani.

Were you already considering how to make ethical shoes whilst you were studying at Cordwainers?
Absolutely. I come from a family of ethical fashion pioneers (Orsola de Castro of From Somewhere is my Mum), doctor so it was a no-brainer for me. I know too much about the quantity of waste produced by the fashion industry and the exploitation of people and environment, medicine so of course I was set on running my label as ethically and morally as I could.

When did you first start to work with your signature wedge and what was the process of finding the perfect shape?
The first drawing I did of my signature curved wedge was in a quiet moment at my first Estethica exhibition at London Fashion Week in 2008, when I was eight months pregnant. The wave of inspiration for my next collection had just hit me and I was absorbed in my new designs. It wasn’t until much later that I realised that the curve of the wedge was the exact line, only reversed, of the instep. And thinking about it now, I think the pregnancy definitely had something to do with it too!

Where do you source your materials from? 
I source my offcuts from anywhere and everywhere. I’ve found amazing textured leathers in markets in Spain, been given boxes of beautiful offcuts from other designers, and raided bins in factories. I can find a use for even the smallest scraps. The vegetable tanned leather comes from Italy, and the heels and platforms in cork and wood are hand turned in Norfolk…

Read the rest of this interview and see more illustrations of Nina Dolcetti’s shoes in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, alongside interviews with 44 other ethical fashion designers and 30 fabulous fashion illustrators. You can buy the book here.

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