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Sole Man

Brian Atwood has had an enviable career—and he’s just getting started.

By Tali Jaffe

Brian Atwood has had an enviable career—and he’s just getting started. Before launching his eponymous line in 2001, Atwood was at the helm of Versace accessories where he was notably the first American designer to be hired by the Italian powerhouse. In 2003 he was named best accessories designer by the CFDA and from 2007-2010 Atwood was the creative director for Bally.

But what Atwood is best known for is his shoes. His namesake line of sexed up stilettos and power platforms are the calling card of a certain set of in-the-know women who are stylish, chic and above all, confident.

In anticipation of his upcoming appearance at Saks Bal Harbour, we caught up with Atwood to discuss his latest collection, his many muses and what else is brewing at Brian Atwood HQ.

AURORA open toe pump with ankle tie and handmade silk flower detail.

What inspired your Summer collection?
There were several references for the SS 2011, everything from African weaving looks to vibrant colored sparkly shoes—an homage to my ever present 70s glamour. There’s also a nautical preppy side this summer: Imagine The Jungle Book mixed in with Slim Aarons. It’s the best of both worlds.

Looks like you bucked the chunky wedge/platform look that's trending for the Summer.
I think there’s a place for everything in the marketplace. I just didn't feel that those types of shoes were what my clients are looking for from Brian Atwood.

Who is the woman you design for?
Confident women who are not afraid to be looked at or admired. They are chic in their effortless approach to fashion.

DIMITRA open toe platform sandal with ankle strap.

Your shoes definitely exude sex appeal. Do you think shoes are the sexiest element of a woman's wardrobe?
Shoes are definitely the most important part. It is like a house. You need to start with a good foundation and shoes can make or break the outfit.

How have you seen the city's fashion industry change since you started?
I think business has changed all around because of the accessibility to information and high street fashion. The customer is so much more educated than before, and they want more fashion, faster!!!

Your website has a section that illustrates some of your inspiration books. Can you share some of the people, places, memories that have influenced your designs.
Some people who have influenced me: Gianni Versace, Azzedine Alaia, Thierry Mugler, Roger Vivier, Manolo Blahnik. Muses: Lauren Hutton, Carine Roitfeld, Faye Dunaway, Gia and all of the glamorous women. Any new place that I travel to inspires me. I love new and vibrant places.

SOFIE flat sandal with silk instep.

Do you sketch all of your looks before they go into production?
How many new looks you produce each year? We sketch thousands, but half of that goes into production.

Is there a time of day that you are most productive?
When the phones aren’t ringing—which is rarely. I like to work late in the evening.

Do you have a favorite place you like to travel to?
I love coming back home to NYC—it’s such an amazing city! I’m also in love with Greece.

What three items do you never travel without?
Sunglasses, iPad and my Blackberry (and iPhone).

IMAN single sole open toe pump with ankle detail.

Do you have a favorite look from your Summer collection?
I love the Aurora shoe with the Lemarié handmade silk flower and Swarovski crystal-studded heel. It’s a limited edition of 35 pairs. View shoe here.

Are there any new products or directions in development for the line?
Will we see an expanded accessories collection anytime soon?

Very Soon… I don't want to say what just yet, but stayed tuned!!!! We’re very excited.

What else is on your Miami agenda?
Hopefully a little sun time. I’m just down for one day, but I’m sure that it will be fun-packed. I love to go to Mr. Chow and I love C. Madeleine's for vintage.

Meet Brian Atwood at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour on April 27 from 6 to 9 p.m.

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