Tracey Neuls: Shoes right from the artist's imagination
Tracey Neuls shoe designs are capturing the imaginations of her customers and peers alike. Here's what makes her designs so special
Nestled in a Marylebone backstreet Tracey Neuls’s flagship footwear shop is “like walking straight into the artist’s imagination,” as Mary Pintas describes. Neul's collection displayed suspended in mid-air via ties from the ceiling.
Tracey Neuls’s innovative approach to her craft has indeed attracted figureheads of the art world, and last year her eponymous brand was nominated for The London Design Museum’s Designs of the Year award.
Although having always been her passion, Tracey was unable to focus on shoe design until 20 years ago when she moved from her native Canada to London.
“I can remember being nine or ten and making shoes out of cereal boxes, with loo paper rolls for heels. They worked too – I walked all around town in them! Footwear design as a profession came about as my second career. Nothing of the sort was offered in my native Canada and the closest option was Fashion Design. I began designing sportswear where the materials interacted with movement for companies such as Nike. The world of footwear design finally opened up for me at Cordwainers College (London). In nine months I learned how to make a shoe and how to make a shoe feel great on the foot - a simple design process so often overlooked. From here I began to make catwalk shoes, collections for other designers and eventually began my own brand in 2000 at London Fashion Week.”
During this event Tracey won the prestigious NewGen award, an internationally recognised talent identification scheme set up by the British Fashion Council whose previous winners of which include Alexander McQueen and Matthew Williamson. Since this moment she hasn’t looked back, and has travelled Europe developing her label.
Tracey’s designs are instantly recognisable, standing as works of art as well as footwear.
“My approach to design is perhaps more sculptural with inspiration coming from the curves of an ankle,” she explains. “I look at footwear as an extension of the leg. The curves of your leg must be part of the shoe design. For me, it is all about the wearer, their individuality and their confidence. I see footwear as the pedestal to an outfit rather than an accessory.”
Her exquisite shoes are remarkably comfortable - an aspect that makes them accessible to a variety of customers.
“My favourite moments are when mothers and daughters come shopping together for my shoes. I don’t think there are many fashion products that cater to a mind-set rather than an age bracket. I love the fact that my shoes draw on a huge range of individuals.” Co-incidentally, I was shopping with my mother when we discovered the brand. Soon we found ourselves trying on all the same pairs of shoes in the store – it’s a shame we’re not the same size!