INTERVIEW WITH AMBER
INDULGE YOURSELF IN THE OTHERWORLDLY DETAILS IN THE BREATHTAKING DESIGNS OF AMBER AMBROSE AURÈLE.
Tell us a little bit about yourself? For me, a shoe is more than an accessory; it is a part of you. With my label Amber Ambrose Aurèle I explore the boundaries between fashion and art, elevating my vision of beauty and design by merging the worlds of theory and practice to create a visual synergy. My work is heavily supported by academic research. I want to make shoes that transform how a woman perceives herself.
Importantly, through transformation we achieve our own sense of individuality. And authenticity is vital to me. Without it, shoe design is not fashion. With this in mind, I have always sought inspiration from unusual sources, looking for fresh ways to understand both my designs and myself. I like to think that sweet things have a strange edge. My goal is to immerse people in my world, to make them see things in different ways and to bridge the gap between art and fashion.
Equally, as a designer I find it important to challenge my own thinking, just as I reshape the materials I work with. I always question myself, exploring the relationship between fashion and the human body. I’m fascinated by the way a shoe can alter a person’s behavior: how a woman stands, how she walks and behaves, the feeling it gives her, the person it reveals.
High heels, for example, evoke both vulnerability and strength, depending on how a woman feels while wearing them. I aim to explore the difference between femme fragile and femme fatale. My shoes reflect reality, accepting both our virtues and our weaknesses. I think about these human elements when I decide what to reveal, what to mask and what structures, textures or materials to use. Design is a magical transformation. My aim is to open the mind to the boundless possibilities for change, renewal and growth, to seek out new perspectives and find contentment in exploration.
As a designer I want to tell stories that astonish people, to make them look differently at the world in front of them and at the same time making them think about the concept my work beholds.
In my work, the shoe is not approached as a shoe but more so as a sculpture. This sets off both the dialogue between art and fashion and the relationship between the shoe and the human body. The designs under my label AAA distinguish themselves by balancing on the edge of fashion and art. I actively look for these boundaries, questioning them: what is the current status of fashion and art? Where is the essence of both disciplines, what embodies the concept and when is something part of it? As a designer it’s very important to constantly renew and reshape yourself, assess your own abilities towards current societal needs and standards but also the discipline you’re trying to master through your work – this brings forth many valuable insights.
How would you describe your work and your influences? I love transforming my ideas in tangible products. Nearly every one of my shoes has high heels. Shoes and more specifically high heels have the ability to transform the wearer completely: your attitude and body posture change and increases your self-confidence. With my designs I can pass along that feeling to other women – that’s why the high heel is so important in my work, as heels can be both vulnerable and powerful at the same time. With more seduction comes more instability, it all depends on how the woman wears her heels. I find this duality endlessly intriguing. As a designer I look for designs that express both power and vulnerability, both elegance and sturdiness. To me, shoes are a metaphor for power and strength.
Next to my showpieces I’m trying to lift a limited commercial collection off the ground that derives from the showpieces: a more commercial side to my label, but not a label that comes with a new collection every season. I’d much rather focus on one collection a year that holds shoes with innovative materials, craftsmanship and an artistic added value to give women the possibility to actually wear and own these shoes. I find it extremely important that the commercial shoes are produced in a very limited edition so that exclusivity remains, the shoes hold their distinctive characteristics and that as woman, you’re truly wearing something unique.
When you aren't working, where is your happy place? I never truly stop working; I’m like a sponge sucking up knowledge and inspiration 24/7. I think that we all have a place that makes us happy where the sirens, deadlines, back pains, meetings and bills all melt away. Just a moment where you can sit and just be in the moment. And that you look around and think, wow, this is lovely. I’m lucky. I myself enjoy the little things, like cycling to a meeting and the sun reflects on the canals of Amsterdam. The different seasons and their traits, moments with my loved ones, a walk on the beach and spotting the first butterfly in spring!
What would you say would be future of shoe design? Or the next big thing? I find that extremely hard to answer, but I think that worldwide there is a shift in our current fashion system. Durability is key – our current way of producing is killing the earth through wrongly using and not figuring out the reuse of materials and chemicals. I assume this will continue to develop into something better but that might be a bigger step than we all realize.
As a designer I am very aware of this system and want to treat my participation in it with respect and thought. Instead of launching collections every season I wish to focus on collections that are not designed with seasonality in mind: once a year I wish to launch pieces that are of high quality, timeless, stylish and artistic; pieces you would be proud to wear for their heritage, value and the way they have been developed.
What is your biggest challenge in design and production? Definitely the part where time’s running away from me! All my showpieces are handmade, there are countless hours invested in each and every one. Not only making them but also researching, material hunting or developing, building lasts, drawing patterns and I can go on forever.
Other than that it is finding small factories that still respect their workers and know how to work with qualitative materials – it is however, a lot of fun discussing and searching for that right one.
Maybe the hardest part is the sales part – I am definitely not commercially minded, my head is always with design.
Do you sketch by hand or with software? What’s your approach with new designs? I always sketch by hand, I love the feeling from pencils and real paper!
If you could have any celebrity wear your designs, who would it be? I design to empower women. When I design there is always one woman that comes to mind; she is the one I am designing for. She is a mystery: elusive, strong and opinionated. The key words in my brands’ design philosophy are ‘feminine power’. I try to find a femme fatale and a femme fragile in every woman. I’d love it if women with a certain attitude would wear my shoes, if you can see that it makes them feeling confident, sexy and powerful. It would be a great compliment to have celebrities wearing my designs: Taraji P. Henson, Daphne Guiness, Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Viktoria Modesta, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, Björk and Bibi Zhou is just a small selection of names that may contact me at any time!
I am wearing
SWIMSUIT tricolore one piece @indahclothing SHOES denim Rainbow collection ankle boot @amberambroseaurele SPRAY TAN in the comfort of your own home or hotel, 24/7 in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. www.onthegoglow.com