Celebrated Shoe Designer Aleksander Siradekian
«I’ve always wanted to design and manufacture shoes, and I’m now ready for it as never before»
Could you, please, tell us about your background and your route to designing shoes?
Since childhood I have always been doing a lot of drawing, I enjoyed painting, and did it all the time, I also took drawing classes. And it often seemed that the two hours of the lesson passed too quickly. I was a teenager when I entered the Tbilisi Academy of Art, but the war in Georgia broke out, and I had to move to another country with my family. Nevertheless I didn’t give up drawing.
I clearly remember the following scene from my childhood: my grandmother who headed a production unit at a chocolate factory in Tbilisi, puts on a white gown over her dress, enters the production unit and gives tasks to the staff. How beautiful her silhouette in the uniform was made by the 8cm-high heels, which were unusually high at that time. She owned a big collection of pumps of various colours. Yet it was not an easy task to get a treasured pair of Italian or Austrian shoes at that time.
Tbilisi had developed a shoe making tradition long before I was born, and my grandmother was a regular customer of the best shoe ateliers in the city. Since early years I have been a very creative child. The first time I came with my mother and grandmother to a shoe atelier, I had the desire to modify and improve our order. The lady who owned the atelier wasn’t very happy about it. She was sure I would spoil the expensive order of my parents with my childish ideas. Not willing to upset the grandchild, my grandmother gave me a chance to explain my idea. The atelier owner didn’t refuse the order of the regular customer and accepted my vision. I was about 6 years old at that time. I was so worried and anxious to see the result, as I realised that I could spoil such an expensive order, and worried if the end result would be as beautiful as I envisioned, and if the shoes, which we had to wait for two weeks, would be spoilt. The waiting was full of fright and anxiety, but fortunately the end result was gorgeous, beyond even the brightest expectations. Everyone was very happy, especially me!!! Only later did I realize that the owner developed and improved my ideas, but at that time I was sure that this was only my merit! Since then I have often accompanied to the shoe ateliers not only my grandmother, but her friends as well. And over the years, I designed not only the decoration, but the entire style and looks.
How did you come to establishing the brand ALEKSANDERSIRADEKIAN?
Serious work started with the two major exhibitions in Moscow in 2000, where I introduced more than 120 models of men and women hand-crafted shoes. All the shoes were made in a single copy in the workshop of my friends in Tbilisi. The collection was a great success. The list of customers who were ready to wait for a treasured pair for 3 months, was clearly a large one, and customer names were one louder than the other! Thus the first samples of my shoes were born, at that time bearing the name «Fresh Art». Unfortunately, at this point politics interfered into our lives. First, there were difficulties with the delivery between Georgia and Russia, and then the flight «Moscow-Tbilisi» was cancelled…
The search for factories in Moscow proved fruitless, as all the local ateliers aimed at decorative design, which can be only seen from the theatre balcony. And our footwear design work was put off until better times.
The better times came, and we started a major project with «Econika» company, for which we created the collections of male and female lines under the brand name «Econika by Fresh Art». The project was a success, and the entire edition had been sold out long before the official sales started.
I’ve always wanted to design and manufacture shoes, and I’m now ready for it as never before. Now, when I have many hours of work in shoe ateliers behind me, and I have experience of producing a line, I boldly decided to go along this route independently. Yes, making shoes is the most difficult thing in the fashion world. But the more complex the process is, the more interesting it is for me. Knowing my customers quality requirements well, I have learned to live in two countries. As you know, the best manufacturers of luxury brands are located in Italy, and I spent 2 years on choosing the right plant.
«Making shoes is the most difficult thing in the fashion world. But the more complex the process is, the more interesting it is for me»
What was the most challenging part of your work at the early stages?
It took time to convince major Italian factories, accustomed to manufacturing shoes for famous brands in large editions/amounts, to deal with me, an unknown in Italy man with an unpronounceable name and extremely low (in their view) quantity orders. But they changed their minds after our presentation at Paris Fashion Week and gained trust in me, as a successful brand, whose products had been bought by well-known department stores and multi-brand stores in different countries! This season, our shoes will be presented in Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Great Britain, Georgia, Israel, Monaco, Turkey, Montenegro, France and the United Arab Emirates.
We know that a month ago you presented your debut Haute Couture collection in Paris. To launch such a line one should be very brave, how did you have courage to do so?
We made the first one of a kind unique pair specially for the international exhibition in February last year, promoting the film «Cinderella», which was organized by Disney. It was particularly pleasing that we were the only Russian brand of the world’s 5 shoe brands! The shoes were so good that one pair had a certain number of customers from different countries, who were willing to wait for their cherished pair… I wasn’t able to satisfy all the clients in the waiting list, but I could not refuse a very interesting offer from Saudi Arabia — a connoisseur of beauty ordered a small collection for his daughter and asked me to do something very special on the subject of an «eastern fairy tale», but on one condition, that the shoes are intended only for the private museum of the princess…. I knew that the process is too complicated and long, as the production of one pair of «bare» pumps requires involvement of 14 different factories which are responsible for various shoe components… shoe-tree, heels, soles, leather and etc. and etc., it is a very time-consuming cycle of work that needs to be constantly controlled and preferably controlled by myself)))…. I decided to do something special, unique and individual, not only for the private museum, but also for a presentation and a launch of an Haute couture line. So I had launched two couture collections into production simultaneously, and the collections proved to be really special, it took a year of work to produce 15 exclusive art objects, 10 of which were presented in the boutique «Les Suites» in Paris on 8 March, and were named «Val de Loire», and 5 of them flew to the Museum of the eastern princess. The next two capsule Haute Couture collections are currently being prepared specially for Monaco and Kazakhstan, and I hope in the near future to please lovers of couture in Moscow as well!
«I give my shoes the names of my friends and my inspirers, great and wise people, with whom I am lucky to have worked on various projects over the years of my career!»
Where are your shoes manufactured and what materials are used for production?
I love suede, lacquer, velvet, silk, lace and leather. I use specially processed rhinestones for my shoes: they have muted glow. I love the classic materials and classic forms. But thanks to latest technology, we can make a classic thing look totally modern and totally new. The best Italian factory was chosen for the production of our footwear.
Where do you find inspiration? What inspires you to create new shoe models and collections?
There can never exist many muses. I have my one and only muse — my wife Lisa, a person with a delicate taste and distinctive vision. By the way it is thanks to her our shoes, in spite of the 12-centimeter heels, are comfortable and absolutely wearable. I give my shoes the names of my friends and my inspirers, great and wise people, with whom I am lucky to have worked on various projects over the years of my career! Thank you for your friendship and trust! I am happy that I have you!
What women do you create your shoes for? Who are your customers?
Our shoes are not for everyone … but for everyone who is ready to try on our vision of beauty and comfort! Our product is for a special occasion, and the future owner of our shoes knows exactly that it is her life that is the very special occasion!
The shoes by ALEKSANDERSIRADEKIAN are in the wish list of every woman. What is your personal favourite model of shoes?
Among our shoes there are models that are very popular with our customers, and we have already marked them as classic shoes, which are produced each season, adding new colours and texture. We are in a constant process of development, and it is the 6th season that we are increasing not only the number of copies, but the product line too. A month ago in Paris we showed a seasonal collection, which included more than 50 models of women’s and children’s footwear. Moreover, this season our brand has launched a line of handbags. Your question is too complicated: I create what I like, and the choice is always yours!
We very much like the comics of your advertising campaign. How was this amazing idea born?
We didn’t have much time to get ready for the first preparation of the collection “Megalomania” in Paris, there was no time at all to prepare a beautiful glossy look book, so I had the idea of printing the look book just as a book of sketches. Of course, when I started sketching, I realized that it looked something very raw and technical. It would be great to miraculously give it life and make it loud. I wanted to add some spice into it, and at exactly that moment the idea of the comics look book was born. «Okay,» — I thought. Let’s make it in the form of comics. But who are the main characters? And I realized that the main characters were me, my shoes and their owners. As for the theme, I can say the following : I am familiar with megalomania quite well. While working with a lot of people, I often faced the representatives of the merry confusion – a diagnosis. Some of them feared that others would notice, some of them did not even know that they have it in themselves. Each of us in some degree has megalomania. But the main thing is to admit this, and treat yourself with humour, this is what my great and wise inspirers do, who with ease and humour admit it in themselves and continue to live happily with their megalomania. As for the plots, and the name — «Megalomania», the heroes themselves dictate certain stories, and there were more, but I stopped at the brightest. I softened the comics stories as much as possible and made them funny and harmless. Yes, I noticed the strong reaction of people to this look book, and I am glad that it makes people smile. I dreamed, and it turned out to be a success, it means there is more to dream on.
Is it possible to balance the beauty of high heels and comfort?
I am a very visual person and try to find beauty in everything. I may seem selfish, as I am primarily concerned about my personal vision of the product, i.e. if I personally like the product I offer…. If I have doubts, the shoes will go back for revision, and they will be presented only when I understand that they are ready! I am now talking about the visual part, but if the shoes don’t pass the comfort control test performed by my wife, then they are rejected even before reaching me. My wife, Lisa is responsible for the comfort of the shoes and helps me a lot, she always flies to the production site and carefully monitors all shoes!!! We are developing and improving our products constantly, making them more comfortable, because there is no limit to perfection!
«Our shoes are not for everyone … but for everyone who is ready to try on our vision of beauty and comfort!»
Could you tell us about your family and how you spend your spare time? Talented and successful people usually complain on the lack of time. How do you manage your time?
I do not separate the time for design from my life, I live and enjoy every day, I always work, even when I take my daughter to school. My muse doesn’t have an exact timetable, in other words, inspiration can come anytime!
I can plan my schedule and can change it myself, adjusting it to the child and the family. We have never had a nanny, and take care of the child ourselves, Lisa, of course, spends more time on it, and grandmothers help us too. Now we are tied to the school schedule – the child is in her 2nd year of school, she does music and English…. Well, this all is within walking distance from our place…. and the vacation system is excellent: 4 weeks of study followed by a week of holidays. We adapt our trips to the school holidays and often take our daughter, Emanuel, with us. She is growing up accustomed to the factories from early childhood and always watches the manufacturing process with pleasure! My family is always with me, and the team and friends always stay in touch with me as well! This is true happiness – to be able to do what you like and belong to yourself!
Thank you for the interesting and inspiring interview!
Our readers can check more at www.siradekian.com
Photos are provided by ALEKSANDERSIRADEKIAN.