Peter Popps is a self-taught shoe-designer from Amsterdam, Netherlands, whose work is noted for its extravagant novelties.
Popps started his career in fashion working as a sales assistant for a shoe company whilst studying product design and architecture. He had always been interested in experimentation and over the years having collaborated with many shoe companies, which has greatly improved his design skills and furthered his own understanding on the aesthetics that was interesting and inspiring.
The years Popps had spent in Italy had allowed him to work closely with a small sample factory where he could realize his design ideas in a tight knit hands on environment. He had always aspired to create designs with a feeling of surprise and innovative rigor.
In 2003, with the launch of his own Design Studio, he wanted to focus on developing exclusive collections for companies that appreciated his attention to detail and work ethic in shoe design. With over 24 years of shoe design experience as a designer, Popps continues to create designs that are opposed to mainstream cultural values. He adores femininity and the strength in their vulnerability. The future is perhaps what will continue to inspire Popps to mix different sensibilities to create a timeless shoe for the new feminine ideal.
What was your childhood like and when did you feel like you had matured?
My family has this saying: “Every house has its cross.”
The older I get, the better it has been and there are times I did not give up when things were difficult. That was my ability to believe in innocence, my inexhaustible fantasy, a never ending enthusiasm and love for innovations.
I had two loving parents that did everything for their kids. They can be over protective at times in all possible ways when I was little and simultaneously they taught me to have fun, show respect, don’t judge or lie, share everything and to take care of my younger sisters. Also to take responsibility for everything I believed in and to do all I wanted to do. They always have been proud and supportive of me. Even when I had made mistakes my dad told me; “Don’t complain, learn from your mistakes and continue or try something different!” I was a fun loving, talkative, restless kid…when I wasn’t playing outside with friends on the streets I would be busy sketching.
I’ve always lived between fantasy and reality…like when my mom dyed her hair black in the 60’s and for me, as this little “know-it-all”, it has been dark blue with an unbelievable high gloss. Today I still believe it has been that way. ??That’s my destiny…I live in 2 different worlds and I don’t want to know the difference.
Who influenced you and your avant grade creativity?
All kind of different things influence me. It could be a remarkable person like Diane Vreeland, Iris Apfel or you Lily Gatins.
My love for avant garde grew during the years of designing but started with different houses and my weak spot for furniture influenced by architectural art when I studied product design and later architecture. I admire people like Frank Lloyd Wright, Corbusier, Charles & Ray Eames, Verner Panton, Joe Colombo, Zaha Hadid and many others that gave something to the world what didn’t exist at that time. Styles like modernism or Space Age.
When I first saw the costumes from the “Triadisches Ballett” by Oskar Schlemmer my five senses felt woken up. Of course I can learn all those names from the past and mention them, but I needed periods in my life where they actually taught me something I was craving for.
What is the one thing you can’t live without from Amsterdam.?
My lover. Well he’s originally from Brazil but he is the reason I moved to Amsterdam. I did never expect to fall in love again at an older age with mutual respect. He is the only person I can tell a story to twice as he doesn’t listen anyway.
What is the wildest adventure of your life?
After I lost a beloved partner I suffered from loss of memory and started to ?travel for months on my own in the States to rediscover myself. ??I did visit some friends, the houses I always admired from Frank Lloyd Wright, ?the graffiti in San Francisco, spent some time with the Hopi and Navajo, looked for the night life in different cities, went to the places I worked before and so on. My total life came back in just a few months with tears, pleasure and laughter.? After a few months I was in the underground from NYC full with grey and black colours with one pair of red and one pair of cobalt shoes. Both have been my designs. That has been the moment to end my “adventure”which I will always remember as the wildest on
What is the most fascinating animal for you?
I find dogs to be the most fascinating, they are always happy to see you and their love is unconditional.
Have you always liked women shoes?
Yes I did and still do.? As a kid I was already fascinated with how proud my mom was by showing us her dress with high heels before going out. To me, elegance, self-confidence and happiness are presented in high heels.?? There is nothing more satisfying than a confident woman in beautiful heels who uses the street as her daily catwalk.
What is your shoe era of choice?
I can’t really make a choice as I admire too many different periods, such as the 1st platforms in the late 30’s by Ferragamo and the most fascinating colourful platforms from the 70’s. The 1st heelless shoes in the 50’s and what would shoe design have been without the invention from Roger Vivier to make a wearable stiletto heel that didn’t break.
I admire the era from today as we can’t always fall back with history. For the 1st time in years many designers are looking for new possibilities and trying to work with new innovations in materials and production, which is really exciting.
Who is your favorite muse ?
My muse will always be my mom. When it comes to a muse and “her shoes” I have to mention Liza Snook from the Virtual Shoe Museum. Liza started the museum 10 years ago with an incredible love for shoes and these days she and her website are a platform for all new, young or dare to be different designers. Liza also started to organize many exhibitions for those fresh designers from this era and I highly appreciate her never-ending energy for that.
Who are some designers that you admire?
From The Space Age Chic period, I really admired designers like Paco Rabanne, Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges. With the 60’s elegance, Dior stands out for me. I also enjoy the wild periods from John Galliano. Jean Paul Gaultier in the 90’s. I have a never ending love for Ann Demeulemeester, Vivienne Westwood, Gareth Pugh, Iris van Herpen and off course life wouldn’t be the same without Alexander McQueen.? I also admire many new and young talents who are all creating new visions of their own.
What is the collection or creation you are the most proud of?
I don’t want to be too nostalgic to be proud of a particular period of my work. When my shoes are ready to be presented, I am already starting to work on new projects and ideas.The 1st three “metal ones”, The Circle, Cube and Bow took me over one and half year to realize. When I finally saw them on some beautiful legs, I smiled for over a week. I am always excited about new projects and possibilities.
Are there any fashion designer, actor, writer, architect or musician
who has influence your vision?
There are the people who give colour to the world by being different from the mainstream. They give so much energy and they present what’s not available. Names as Leigh Bowery and many remarkable people.
It’s all about the moment your living in and what’s catching your attention for whatever the reason might be in combination with the things you admire. With my shoes design, I am definitely influenced by Sci-Fi, Avant-gardism and Space Age.
You had studied Architecture before moving into
Design, what made you change your mind?
I did not really change my mind. When I started my own freelance design studio back in 2003 it became such a success that I had to continue with experimenting and developing new shoe concepts
From the shoe designers you have mentioned before, which are your favorite pieces:
–Salvatore Ferragamo, the well known Rainbow platform 1938 but one shoe isn’t enough to mention with such a meastro.
–Vivienne Westwood, The square toe boots from the “On Liberty” collection 1994.
–Aoi Kotsuhiroi, Exotic Regrets
–Masaya Kushino , Lung-tshup-ta-Noritaka Tatehana,
Well..off course his heel-less boots but “Lady Romanesque” is really special.
–Iris van Herpen, The Thorn?-Alexander McQueen, The Armadillo.
–Andreia Chaves, The Invisible Shoe-Pierre Hardy, The concept Peugeot shoe
–Christian Louboutin, The unwalkable stiletto in collaboration with David Lynch.
But there are also a many new young designers who make my blood run faster.
Someone told me that you love to party. What is your ideal spot and who will be in it?
Yes I do, but I could party 3 days without sleep and without pills. These days I need more time to recover from my partying! Not much has changed over the years as I still enjoy dancing, fun, laughing and good conversations at any place at any time. Whether it will be at home, a restaurant, a concert or a bar. The most important thing is to be in the company of people I love.I deeply value my friendships to be based on humor, warmth, spontaneity, respect, honesty, authenticity and to keep an open mind. I dislike violence and discrimination as I’m convinced we have love to share with everybody. So it might be one dear friend or a huge group depending on how I feel.
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