Talking Shoes with Tabitha Simmons
The British designer and stylist stopped by Saks to talk inspiration, celebrities, and her short-lived modeling career.
In 2009, British wardrobe stylist, Vogue contributor, and one-time model Tabitha Simmons launched a whimsical eponymous shoe collection—her designs have since garnered CFDA and British Fashion Awards. (The pointy-toe Peruvian-prep “Lou” heels from her recent resort line are pitch-perfect for spring.) She currently lives in New York and stopped by Saks on a quick day trip to Boston last week, where she talked about inspiration, celebrities, and her short-lived modeling career.
Did you always know you’d work in fashion?
No. I always loved fashion, especially because at school, I was never really allowed to wear fashion. I had very strict uniforms. I just sort of fell into it and I’m really happy I did.
How did you start modeling?
I had literally just finished college and was working in a store called Joseph [in London] and they sold Alaïa, and Dolce & Gabbana, and Prada—it was a high-end luxury store. During the summer holiday when I finished college, I was working there during the week. And I got discovered in there modeling.
I realized I was terrible. I was just a really bad model. I have good friends who are very good at modeling; they are awesome. I was just a disaster. But, through that, I found out about styling. I went to intern for a magazine [Dazed & Confused], and that’s how I got into styling.
How did you land on designing shoes?
I always had a shoe interest—when I worked for Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen, I was obsessed with the process of shoemaking. I used to love shoes as a stylist because it would enforce the story and enforce the character.
What kind of woman wears Tabitha Simmons shoes?
She’s a strong, busy woman who has a fashion point-of-view. She likes fashion. There’s a timeless element to her, she’s definitely feminine.
Are there any stars you’re dying to see in your flats and heels?
We have been really lucky in that way. Everyone I’ve thought is amazing has worn them. It’s been varied—Julianne Moore had worn our shoes, but then we’ve had Kate Moss, and Sienna Miller, and Alexa Chung. And I know the process: There’s probably a sea of shoes sitting on the floor and that they pick mine to wear is awesome.
Any plans to expand beyond shoes?
I would love to make the collection grow and, yes, I would like to expand. But still keep it focused on accessories.
What’s your everyday uniform?
It depends. If I have a Vogue fashion meeting, maybe I’ll be a little smarter. For set, I’ll wear jeans and go a bit tomboyish, with a white shirt and sweater, and my flat pointy boots with buckles over them. In summer, I have a very different wardrobe than winter. Winter is very tomboyish, with darker colors,. When summertime comes, I go really wild with the colors and prints and chiffon dresses, really feminine.
Interview was condensed and edited.