Designer Najeeba Hayat launched the pre-spring 2017 collection of her footwear label Liudmila with an immersive presentation co-hosted by Leandra Medine of the Man Repeller website (manrepeller.com).
For her new range, Hayat continued exploring the Victorian era, a continuous source of inspiration for her.
For pre-spring, the designer took a darker turn, referencing the underground world of Victorian London as pictured in some of her favorite Charles Darwin novels, with black leather boots, pumps with cutout lace-up panels and low wooden heels.
“This collection moved away from the pastels; I wanted to focus on developing my Victorian-style boots,” said Hayat. “A lot of the styles are named after the evil, underground characters in Darwin’s novels.”
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As for the more colorful, embellished pieces, Hayat explained that they are designed to symbolize amulets — similar to the ones that the characters of London’s underground Victorian world would have to protect them. Among the highlights were sandals embellished with purple fur pom-poms, embroidered velvet pumps and a pair of lilac cut-out ankle boots featuring glitter embellishments and low, curved heels, typical of the Victorian era.
To set the mood, Hayat presented the collection in a dark, three-storied space in London’s Soho where the walls were covered in manuscripts, eerie music echoed across the rooms and a magician entertained guests. The shoes were scattered across the space on wall frames, while models — in lace dresses, heavy eye makeup and floor-length braids — peaked from behind red, velvet curtains.
The label became known for its highly decorative aesthetic soon after its launch in 2015. Fur, feathers, embroidery and exotic skins have since established themselves as part of Hayat’s vocabulary.
“When I started the brand, the idea was to do comfortable, low heels yet elaborate pieces which make you dream. I’ve been inspired by Victorian London and Darwin’s tales since childhood, so I wanted to step away from normcore and from the idea that fashion has to define women,” said Hayat. “You only live once — escape. I call these birthday shoes.”
Liudmila is stocked at Browns and Farfetch. Prices range from $590 to $1,107.
Leandra Medine became a fan of the label after discovering it on the Browns website.
“The shoes feel quite intellectual and escapist, in exactly the way that footwear is supposed to feel. They’re also comfortable,” said Medine.