Until recently, we have known Kerrie Hess as the ever impressive fashion illustrator. Across her career, she has awed us through her unparalleled ability to take fashion to new heights, reincarnating it through her whimsical water color pieces, and attracting the likes of Vogue, Harrods and other fashion mainstays. Without adding anything to it, her resume is already an aspiration for artists around the globe.
Now, in the wake of her most recent work, Hess is also able to label herself a fashion designer, having just finalized a collaboration with the footwear masters at Ballettonet. With a distinctly Parisian vibe, the exclusive eight pair collection artfully combines creative flair and comfort. With an array of colors from classic black to Tiffany blue and embellishments including the omnipresent bow and Hess’ signature of the french bulldog, the Australian artist has really put her stamp on the wardrobe staple.
Here is what the designer herself had to say about her new collection.
You have an illustrious resume and have curated artwork for various fashion labels in the past, what made you want to branch out into product design?
To be honest I never thought I would end up designing a range of shoes! But it came up organically, as a partnership with a wonderful family of shoe makers in Italy and I felt confident to design hand in hand with a team that have been making ballet flats in Italy for a very long time! My side is the design and theirs is the construction, so I think we make a good team. I also loved the idea of the collection being limited edition of only 50 to 100 pairs of each style, which suited me a lot more than a mass market collaboration. I personally like to work on smaller niche collaborations, so this was perfect for me. I am also very much a flats person running between school drop offs, back to my studio, meetings and then possibly an event in the one day.
You’ve consistently cited the Parisian aesthetic as a major source of inspiration; did this signature style influence your collection with Ballettonet?
Yes absolutely! I always loved this Parisian aesthetic, but actually living in Paris with a super tiny closet taught me to not worry too much about trends. Parisians really don’t, they have one amazing coat, trench, blazer and only classic footwear. There isn’t room in anyone’s closet for items that will date! When I think of ballet flats I also think immediately of Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, running around Paris in black ballets, a turtle neck and Capri pants. She is definitely my muse for the collection and I love that this look is still chic, so many years later.
Ballettonet are renowned for the comfort and timelessness of their footwear. Are these features important to you when choosing the right shoe?
Oh goodness absolutely. I adore heels but don’t have a large threshold for discomfort in footwear. I also think that when you buy a pair of flats, they need to be insanely comfortable. We specifically added additional layers of padding to the inside of the sole of the shoe, as well as a flexible soft leather construction. I also drove the makers in Italy banana’s at the eleventh hour changing the trim around the edging of the shoes to a softer silky cotton piping to make them even more comfortable and still super chic.
What did you enjoy most about the design process? Was it a challenge working across the technical elements that go into creating each piece?
Yes absolutely, it was an experience out of my usual comfort zone, but I always think it’s great to try something that scares you a little! Especially if you can do it with a team that understand the technical process, plus Ballettonet in between. There has been so many late night phone calls between Brisbane, Melbourne and Italy to create this collection! And about a thousand swatches to go through deciding on the best colours, fabrics and finishes. It’s quite funny now when I look in a shoe store, I can’t help checking the construction, lining piping etc of shoes now…
We are eyeing off the Paris en Noir style. Do you have a favourite pair from the collection?
Yes these are one of my favourites too. They are the all black everything shoe, and I had someone like Sofia Coppola in mind designing these, worn with a little black dress. I even wanted the metal hard ware on these to be a charcoal black so that this could be that perfect pair of black flats that can match with almost anything in your wardrobe. I am also partial to the Frenchie Flats and the Rose Gold Praline flats as I adore rose gold as a metal and in leather. I also have a thing for the pale pink and tiffany hued ballets for a softer daytime look.
Do you have any future plans to expand further into fashion design?
Not at this stage, but never say never! I am most comfortable as an artist, with a paint brush in my hand, but who knows what lies ahead. I always think it’s good to stay open to possibilities when the right things come up. But ultimately if I can just continue as a working artist I honestly feel like I have the best job in the world, and I really couldn’t ask for anything more than that.
The Kerrie Hess x Ballettonet capsule collection is available now at ballettonet.co/kerriehess