Can a cliff be a shoe? Can sharp peaks and asymmetrical valleys strut down a runway strapped to defiantly intrepid feet? Marina Chedel says yes.
Winner of this year’s new Swarovski Fashion Accessories Grand Prize of the Jury at the 32nd International Festival of Fashion & Photography for her gravity-defying footwear, Chedel is eager to take her vision for shoes to new heights.
Hyères is known as the launch pad for many of fashion’s most respected designers, with a star-studded panel of judges and all eyes on the nominees in the months preceding it. Juries have included Jean Paul Gaultier, Helmut Lang, and Dries Van Noten. This year, the chair of the accessories award jury was Pierre Hardy, who has made his mark on the likes of Christian Dior, Hermès, and Balenciaga. “This festival is a life goal for lots of young designers because of its renown,” acknowledges Chedel, “and also for the opportunity to show your work to some incredible people.”
Born in Rio de Janeiro and raised in Geneva, she entered the festival with hope and some trepidation. “My collection is about transmitting a sensation,” she explained. She certainly is beginning to create one. As the accessories winner for her shoe collection, Over The Peak, Marina will receive a €15,000 grant to create her next feat of fashion, and the chance to partner with Chanel’s Métiers d’Art with a budget of up to €15,000.
The competition’s timing coincided with her Master’s degree in footwear design at the London College of Fashion. With a new accessory award this year, it seemed that her stars were aligned. “I felt like I had no other choice,” she said.
For Chedel, the fantastic nature of the shoes is central, meant to evoke both the mountaineering adventures of her home in Switzerland and the local myths surrounding the terrain. “This collection is me as a designer and also as a storyteller,” she said. Inspired in part by the legend of the Dahu, a mountain goat with special legs to help it climb, the shoes are a call to her past as well as a look at the future of design.
The powerful design took ten months to complete from its first mock-up to the final prototype, all of which Chedel made by hand. Incorporating Crystals from Swarovski into the shoe was another challenge, which she is grateful to have weathered. “It’s not in my comfort zone,” she said. “That’s why I loved working with Swarovski, in the end. I had to find a new way to construct the shoes so that one could walk in them.”
As the glow of her accomplishment subsides, Chedel will dive into a promising career. She will soon start a new job as a footwear designer and continue to work on her own new collection. “I’m really, really happy,” she said.
As for future work with crystal, time will tell. “Who knows what the future holds,” said Chedel, “but it would be a pleasure to work with Swarovski again.”