Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen is known for her whimsical and feminine frocks, but not so much for shoes. So when Singapore-based shoe and accessory brand Charles & Keith came knocking, Bahnsen saw the chance to tap on their shoemaking expertise to produce a pared-down collection of shoes that translated the poetry of her dresses into footwear.
The result is a double strap Mary Jane style and a single strap mule that come in four different fabrics: a quilted satin in black, neon yellow and white, as well as a black patchwork fabric. The Mary Jane appealed to Bahnsen for a few reasons. “I’ve always been fascinated by school uniforms. I think that explains why I loved the Mary Jane shoe. It’s a traditional school-girlish shoe, but it also has that quality of a masculine-feminine contrast that I’m always looking for. Historically, the Mary Jane was not just a shoe for girls. Right into the 20th century, little boys wore them too,” she says.
The design process for Bahnsen was a considered one that involved referencing her brand’s romantic signatures. “It’s been really exciting to see how we can translate our universe into a shoe. It almost felt like we were morphing our dresses into a shoe,” says Bahnsen. However, the look of the shoe was not the only criteria, with comfort, practicality and longevity being equally important for her.
As part of a sustainable approach, the black and yellow patchwork shoes from the collaboration were made using leftover fabric from the designer’s past collections. “It allowed us to give the fabric and the designs a new life. We also created beautiful unique dust bags for the shoes using different kind of fabrics from previous seasons. Each comes with its own little bag,” says Bahnsen. The material that is used to make the other three quilted designs is recycled satin. And while the shoes from Charles & Keith usually retail for under S$86, the ones from this collection come with a significantly bigger price tag, with prices ranging from S$379 to S$529 due to their limited availability, the materials used and the couture-like finishing. Each accompanying shoebox also comes with an exclusive print from the campaign.
On the subject of sustainability, Bahnsen says that she is mindful of what her brand stands for. “We always work with craftspeople in Europe, preserving traditions and techniques that have been held in communities for centuries. Since launching the brand, I have cared for the creation and the history of each garment, as I think the beauty of good design lies both in the look and the considered process,” says Bahnsen.
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