Chris Donovan’s shoes are embodying fashion as art — and art as fashion. The designer’s sculptural footwear has earned him rising acclaim in the shoe world, as well as a 2023 Accessories award nomination at Fashion Group International’s annual Rising Star Awards.
“It’s amazing,” Donovan exclusively shared with FN at FGI’s annual Rising Star pre-party on Tuesday in New York. “Coming from where I came from, I never came from fashion — I’m new to it. To be recognized for what I do is exciting.”
Indeed, Donovan has had a long road to marking his presence in footwear. Originally a telephone repairman for over 20 years, the Boston-based designer swapped phones for fashion upon getting his master’s degree from Polimoda in Florence, Italy — notably recalling the lack of transitional skills between the two fields. However, upon his return to the U.S., Donovan said his career transition wasn’t without hardships.
“I came home and basically was told I was too old to work for anybody,” said Donovan. “I was looking to go to a design house, like, ‘What do I do?,’ and the teachers basically said, ‘It’s going to be really tough for you, because who wants a 55-year-old intern?’”
Despite these challenges, Donovan shared that social media growth, a “Project Runway” contest, speaking offers and positive feedback encouraged him to launch his line — along with the support of his husband, Steve. With his label now in its second year of business, Donovan is optimistic for the future, which includes prep for the Rising Star Awards on May 8 and designing his upcoming spring 2024 collection.
“Right now we’re picking out leathers, we’re working with my consultants in Italy in the factory, getting them all made,” he said. “This last one is going to be about making things three-dimensional, as opposed to making a flat upper. Let’s do some folds, let’s make it three-dimensional, make it architectural.”
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