ANDREIA CHAVES AND THE INVISIBLE SHOES FREEDOM OF CREATION TALKS ABOUT ITS 3-D SHOE DESIGNER. Written by LEE HERSHEY Photographed by ANDREW BRADLEY Show designer Andreia Chaves’ “Invisible Shoe” has become something of a sensation in the blogosphere, since its showcase at an exhibition in collaboration with Hervé Léger at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week last February. A native of São Paolo, Brazil, Chaves attended the Polimoda Fashion Institute in Florence, Italy (she still works from Florence, as well as out of Ireland). She began gaining international attention even before her graduation from Polimoda, with her work on other designs, like “The Prism Shoe,” “The Form & Texture” and “The Velcro Shoe.” “The Invisible Shoe” uses advanced three-dimensional (3D) printing technology, and has a mirrored surface, ultimately creating a deceptive visual effect with every step, and blending into any environment like a chameleon1. The shoe explores the concept of invisibility and optical illusion, while the “Naked Invisible” version of the shoe does just the opposite: reveal. For the latter, each version is handmade in Italy with leather. Chaves explores concepts like “The Invisible Shoe” and “The Naked Invisible” through her collaboration with the Netherlands-based studio Freedom of Creation (FOC)2. FOC provides design, product development and manufacturing services to corporate industries such as Nike, Asics, L’Oreal and Heineken, as well as to independent and emerging designers like Chaves. Using the research and technologies behind 3D printing, FOC explores the unlimited expressive possibilities that these innovations provide. Other products that FOC has collaborated on with clients include light fixtures, jewelry, handbags and wallpaper. The range of products and projects are unlimited; from advertising items and gadgets, to home décor, textiles and model-making. FOC has received international recognition and awards, such as the Cannes Lion Award 2008 and The Mobius Award; several permanent collections are at museums like the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the Design Museum in Holon, Israel and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. Chaves’ footwork is more artistic than practical, however, her work and technique emphasizes a mastery of traditions (such as leatherwork and crafting) which embrace twenty-first century technologies. Leather is used because of its ability to shape to the foot. For the hard structure of “The Invisible Shoe,” laser-sintered Nylon is used to create the tough outer shell. The technique used is a form of rapid prototyping— Nylon layers are built up and fused together by a laser beam. Chaves’ vision and aesthetic is architectural and structural, as her approach redefines and manipulates conception of movement and space. Each of Chaves’ pieces is available in limited edition, in three models, and conceived individually rather than by collection. A few of her prototype models include the following:
“THE INVISIBLE” as described previously, immerses the foot into the environment through its reflective, finished surface, creating an optical effect of obscurity (or invisibility) by “deleting” the foot from the wearer, and essentially, from reality. “THE NAKED INVISIBLE” has a similar form and structure to “The Invisible Shoe,” however reveals the foot through a grid-like shell, creating juxtaposition to its sister in revealing instead of concealing. “THE PRISM SHOE” is an origami piece of intricate structure and geometric design. “THE FORM & TEXTURE SHOE” uses material like leather, sycamore and wood cubes to create an expressive commentary on chaos and order, as the framework combines the indestructible with disorder. “THE TWIRLED SANDAL” is made from PVC and metal. Again, Chaves plays with the contradictions of order and disorder, as well as optical effects, as she manipulates the aesthetics of footwear, but retains the necessary functional elements. “THE VELCRO SHOE” is made of ordinary Velcro strips that hold the foot in place. As Velcro, its shape can be manipulated, redesigned. It is an example of Chaves’ vision to re-conceptualize how ordinary materials can be used. Blogs are rampant with features regarding Chaves; she also appeared in a feature for Italian Vogue in December 2010, aiding Chaves’ reach to a wider audience and retailers. At the moment, besides preparing for Paris Fashion Week 2011, Chaves is establishing her business and relationships with partners, like FOC, and potential retailers that will make her shoes marketable at a global scale. Following the Hervé Léger’s show, Chaves launched in Asia in association with I.T Hong Kong, as well as the opening of I.T Beijing in March 2011. She is also working towards launching her first commercial models: “The Invisible Shoe Series.” Beyond I.T Hong Kong and Beijing, Chaves’ fantastical work can be preordered from retailer Not Just A Label, and also from her website (www.andreiachaves.com).
1. The 3D-printing process transforms a computer-aided design file into a real object by a printing press; then adds one layer of matter onto another until the entire object is created. 2. For this feature, Chaves was unable to be reached due to her preparations for Paris Fashion Week 2011. But her collaborations with Freedom of Creation (FOC) have projected her into the fashion spotlight. FOC was interviewed in lieu of its client, Chaves.
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