FN Summit: The Women’s Perspective

It was all about girl power at the FN Summit.

Trend-setting designers Laurence Dacade, Alessandra Lanvin of Aperlaï, and Tabitha Simmons talked collaborations, comfort and designing for women in the luxury market during a panel moderated by Footwear News Senior Fashion Editor Regina Smith Popp.

When she launched Aperlaï three years ago, Lanvin said, “most of the women’s shoe designers were men. I thought creating from a woman’s perspective could make a difference.”

According to all three women, an innate attention to detail in every aspect of the creative and production process is what sets these designers apart from their male counterparts. “I’m a woman and I want to fight for the idea that you don’t need to suffer to wear shoes,” said Dacade, who has worked with Chanel for a decade and collaborated with brands such as Thakoon and Nina Ricci.

Simmons, who took home the CFDA Swarovski Award for Accessory Design later Monday night, talked about how her experience styling for mega brands including Alexander McQueen and Calvin Klein influenced her foray into the high-end footwear market. “For me, luxury means timeless,” she said. “It’s something you can buy and keep on wearing and it never goes out of fashion.”

Below are some highlights from the panel.

On collaborating:
Laurence Dacade:
I like to have the exchange with different designers. When you work with one brand, you think, “I’d like to make shoes like that.” When you work with many brands, you can.

Tabitha Simmons:
It’s really lovely to collaborate with people. I’m focusing on new designers like Creatures of the Wind. It’s also a great [opportunity] to grow with them. They’re starting out and you’re starting out and you support one another.

On growing the business:
Alessandra Lanvin:
It’s not easy. As you grow, people are asking you to make concessions. And it implies making crucial choices to not lose [your] brand identity and signature.

[I’m taking it] one step at a time. I would like to obviously keep growing and open a shop — that’s every designer’s dream. [The store allows you to] say what you want to say. That’s something I’d love to do.

LD: You think maybe you never want to have a partner because it’s too big or impressive or complicated, but … I think maybe I’ll want to [work with a partner] because after a point you need to change.

On luxury embracing comfort:
TS: You look at a lot of the runway collections, and a lot of the heel heights have gone down. It’s [not as] extreme. I feel like it is shifting toward that.

The important thing is the last and all the things you don’t see. That’s the secret to the quality.

On going digital:
TS: For me, it’s really important. You can talk to your customer directly. You get a more intimate feeling and learn what’s going on.

On working with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel:
LD: Every day is a fantastic moment. [Chanel] is a beautiful world. [Lagerfeld] knows exactly what he wants. He’s quick and I love that.

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