Text JF. Pierets Photos Courtesy of Peter Popps
Highly experienced shoe professional, Peter Popps, recently released his own amazing line of shoes. As we speak, Lady Gaga is wearing Peter’s CUBE creation during the shoot for ‘ARTPOP’ by Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. An interview. For the love of shoes.
First things first; how does it feel to see Lady Gaga stand in your shoes.
Great! The excitement was huge when they contacted me, because you don’t know what to expect. When you see the movie, my work is shown in just one second of frame. It’s for those who want to see it. Or am I too modestly Dutch now? The real excitement started when confronted with the reactions from family, friends and all other lovely people. People from television started to call me, as they wanted to feature the collaboration. I must say, the emails, phone calls and messages didn’t give me much time to breath. I have been busy for 4 days to answer all of it. I guess I’m not born this way!
What’s the story? Did you know or was it a complete surprise?
I think she has one of the best stylists surrounding her. I mean, there is a group of people working for her hunting around on the internet. I always admired that group as they did find many unknown designers and made them known for a bigger audience. My website had been on-line for 3 weeks and I received an email from Hayley Pisaturo, one of the assistants of Brandon Maxwell, who’s a member from the ‘Haus of Gaga’. She asked me if I was interested in collaboration and a photoshoot for V-Magazine. Inez and Vinoodh would be the photographers. At first I couldn’t believe the email but that same week the selected shoes went to in New York.
Your creations strike me as ‘Kubrick meets Bondagequeen’. Can you tell me something about your inspiration?
First of all, I wanted people to know my name after working all those years on a contract for so many different brands. Second, after 24 years of designing commercial shoes, I never felt a stronger urge to design opposed to the mainstream cultural values as they are forced on us today. I have been highly influenced by magnetic transportation. Take a look at the Roller Skates…introduced in 1760 and at the beginning of the 18-hundreds, London already had covered rollerskatingrings. It took almost 200 years before they did have synthetic wheels. The 1st margin problem I guess. It goes for skateboarding, which was founded by surfers around the 50’s. They invented a way on wooden boxes or boards with roller skate wheels attached to the bottom. Skateboarding gained in such popularity that soon many cities had skateboard-decks or even bigger places. Next to my fascination about those things, I have a weakness for all kinds of science-fiction movies like The Matrix, Star Wars, Mad Max or even Avatar or Men in Black, I’m inspired by movies such as Metropolis, A Space Odyssey (there you go with Kubrick) and Barbarella. But also comics like Superman, Batman or Spiderman. Fantasies, which are based on innovations in and from the future. I’m also influenced by avant-gardism, 60’s space-age design and the amazing art of bondage. With all those inputs I developed the basic for this little collection.
What kind of woman/man do you have in mind while creating?
For the woman who knows how and when to wear them. A woman who knows her vulnerability and who’s confidence. I adore the feminine power that comes from a woman who only gives herself to the one she chooses. Nevertheless I adore every man who’s sensitive enough to walk the in her footsteps.
Are they also meant for men? If not, would you ever design a male shoe?
My designs are for those who can relate to them.When it comes to trans, drags or queens, it makes no difference for me. In the past I designed many shoes in collaboration with Luichiny. Known for it’s high towers and platforms, which have been mainly designed for drags and queens. I loved doing that. But to design shoes that are exclusively for men? That isn’t fun! Four years ago I designed the first accepted sport shoe that did have a zip. Finally, a zip!!! Most men are afraid of being looked at as eccentric, and those who are, are creative in making their own style.
‘My designs are for those who can relate to them. When it comes to trans, drags or queens, it makes no difference for me.’
What’s the personal angle in your work? Fetishism?
No. Innovations from the future. Today it’s a soft mix between bondage and space age but tomorrow it can be the black music from the 70’s. Inspiration is coming from all kinds of directions.
Each of your pieces is unique. What if someone wants to buy them?
I get many requests but I didn’t have any sort of production in mind when I developed them. The sole constructions from the shoes are so complicated in fitting and making, that I’ve always seen them as wearable jewelry and pieces of art. In order to meet all those request I searched for several possibilities but it ended up way to expensive. Also, most people want to be able to walk in them. How strange.
Would you ever consider going into mainstream shoe designing?
I did for 24 years and for different brands, and many of you might have a shoe I designed as freelancer for many companies. Yet I’m done with what the market offers to the customers. It all looks pretty much the same. A copy from a copy from a copy, mixed with some retro and an outrageous price comparing to the quality. Me and many other designers with me are developing a lot of new innovations, which isn’t even remotely comparable with what’s available in the shops. I probably will continue designing commercial shoes but I first want to follow my heart in making a few extra special pieces.
You enjoy 24 years of experience of shoe design for numerous brands. How does you future look like?
As happy as always! Kicking against cultural values that are forced on us and trying to make people smile without judgment, as we need our freedom to feel alive. And maybe I’ll design some shoes in the mean time.
You have 4 main works. Can you give us a peep into your mind regarding number 5?
They will come in black and white and no; Chanel has not been an inspiration here! And I will show the first walkable one.
If you could choose anyone in the entire world, dead or alive, for whom would you like to create a pair? And why?
Just one? Vladimir Putin. Something to hang him up side down as long as it needs until he admits that love is an equal right for everybody.
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