Fiona Kotur in Manila
We at The Gypsetters Net were lucky enough to be invited to interview the international bag and shoe designer, Fiona Kotur, at her dear friend (and ours) Blue Carreon’s home accessories store, Blue Carreon Home, in Century City Mall. We were also part of the select few to preview the Spring/Summer 2014 shoe collection as well as the new Fall 2014 Collection, Cabinet of Curiosities. Reflecting the love of collectibles and covetables, the collection features textures such as technicolored snakeskin, bejeweled Perspex, leopard hair calf and velvet. Showing off Fiona’s whimsical side, incorporated into this season’s collection is a sense of wonder, elements of mysticism and a play of nature’s beauty and oddities. Here is our interview with the amazingly creative Fiona Kotur.
The Gypetters Net: Why did you decide on the Gypset theme for your new collection?
Fiona Kotur: Because we love traveling and a lot of the details come from bazaars, the souks and local markets when you travel. Instead of going on one particular trip it would be really fun to kind of take elements from several of our trips – from Marrakech, to Istanbul to Bali to India or Rajasthan.
TGN: Can you give us some examples of these design influences?
FK: This was inspired by a vintage Turkish military sandal. We love the tassels and felt that these shoes would take you somewhere and explore. Even with the bags. These were inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Bablyon and Yves Saint Laurent’s house in Morroco has amazing gardens. It’s a sort of plush, under-pruned garden. I think its fun you can mix it any which way. I think the eccentric, exotic details just puts the whole thing together. It’s like you are exploring just as you are when you are traveling. That sort of discovery we love as travelers. Even with some techniques. It’s snakeskin that’s been embroidered and laid on the gold plated brass bag. It’s kind of like the mirrors that you find in India. We love it and sometimes that’s where the inspiration comes from – trying techniques and elements of different cultures.
TGN: Where do you have your bags made?
FK: Some in the Philippines, in Cebu actually. Some from near Shanghai. But we work with small workshops that really have great craftsmanship.
TGN: Was there a certain experience you had that inspired you to design the #getsmartbag?
Trying to hold my phone with a clutch! The first thing everyone tries or asks is if the bag will hold their phone (all the bags will hold your phone). But I thought, instead of having it ring and having to pull it out, why not make a bag a little bigger to fit it. I also try to fit money or a credit car behind my phone case only to have it pop out. It came as a matter of necessity and also the likely event of having something pretty on the table with you where it’s not just your phone. And what do you do with clutches when you are at dinner? Why not just keep it together. And for day, it has a cross body chain for when you’re running to the store or for lunch. That’s how it happened. I thought it was so obvious, why hasn’t someone else thought of it? And we’ve got the patent for it.
TGN: When you come up with ideas like this, is it a group effort?
FK: In this case I thought of the idea and the design team made it much better. When you bounce ideas off other people it tends to elevate it. Coming up with ideas is never an issue for any of us. Getting them made is the issue.
You just saw our snow globes right? We just did a special edition on the online store called Wish You Were Here made up of little postcards and put them inside. And you can put a picture too. Cause it looks like a vintage one for travel. So we did one for Bali, one for Miami…
TGN: How does it feel having crossed over from bag designer to shoe designer?
FK: It’s technically really different because there are so many different components. I’ve designed shoes before at one of my jobs in my past life for Ralph Lauren, but I think in terms of the design – the inspiration part, it’s easy, because once you have a blanket you can design a home around it, you can design a car around it, but actually technically making it, there are a lot of decisions you have to make and a lot of different components. So in that way it’s really different. Plus it’s got to hold your weight, it has to be comfortable, so there are a lot of things you have to consider.
TGN: We all have bought beautiful shoes that turn out to be so uncomfortable.
FK: I still have a pair of Alaias from 20 years ago that I was coveting and when I brought them home they were so painful. I still wear them but I know I can only wear them for about half an hour. I know if I wear them to a cocktail party, I’m going to slip them on in the elevator, wear them for 30 minutes, then go and take them off. But ours are really comfortable.
TGN: This is the first time you are launching your new collection anywhere in the world?
FK: Actually you are right, because we are just shipping it now. Nobody’s received it yet. The only person who has something of ours is Kerry Washington cause she pre-ordered it and we sent hers off the other day. That’s it!
TGN: What inspires you aside from travel?
FK: Art exhibitions, a film. Our Fall collection here to day was inspired by The Cabinet of Curiosities. It’s almost inspired by all my home shopping. Just finding interesting things; eclectic, eccentric details and running them into the designs. It could be a lot of different things.
TGN: What are your favorite travel destinations?
FK: I’m about to go to L.A., which is exciting cause I haven’t been for awhile. I was in London last week for work and I do love London and its changed so much since I have been there. Lots of great places to go. I like cities myself. I have small children so usually end up on the beach or on the slopes because they are sporty. They are boys and I have four – 14, almost 13 and twins that are 7 – so I tend to contain it. I haven’t dragged them to all the cathedrals of Italy yet – they would die. So for now I’m like, “I’ll go skiing with you, again but one day I’m dragging you around and doing the cathedral tour and introducing you to the Renaissance.” But they aren’t excited about that.
TGN: How long have you been living in Hong Kong now?
FK: 12 years. So I still have one toe in New York, where I’m from originally.
TGN: Is there anything you are lusting after at this moment?
FK: I am lusting after things in this store! Can I mention some things? Well, I can tell you my lust factor has gone up here in the last 24 hours. To include: the two shelves there, the umbrella rack, I’m loving the ants, they are so whimsical and fun. It’s my first time in Blue’s store but I shop on Instagram and said that I would see it in person.
TGN: Where are you gypsetting off to next from Manila?
FK: I’m going back to Hong Kong and then from there will go to New York for work and LA for fun.
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We are two friends who were former magazine editors. Having moved onto other things, we both realized that the creative flow the publishing world used to offer us was missing from our lives. Armed with a common love of travel to the exotic and familiar, a penchant for the bohemian, an obsession with food and a lust for writing, we decided to collaborate our unique and fashionable journeys through life together in one passion project.
We are The Gypsetters.