Chua Har Lee is an up-and-coming shoe designer whose talent and high quality work was immediately recognized in the form of the coveted Manolo Blahnik RCA Prize in 2009, the same year she scooped up the award for Accessories Collection of the Year at the equally prestigious ITS8 Competition.
Chua Har Lee cites her influences as being the futurism of Pierre Cardin and the German meister of all forms of design, Luigi Colani. Certainly, in the architectural use of materials like Perspex and plastics, these elements come through strong. But there is also something reminiscent of the design traditions of the East about her work, for example in the interplay between reflective lacquered surfaces and wood grain. In her work, the tension between a masculine strength and a feminine desirability is something that she strives for. There would be few to disagree that she certainly achieves this second quality: the elegant sweeping curves and grace of these shoes makes them just as sexy as unusual.
Although Chua Har Lee completed post-graduate studies at London’s Royal College of Art in 2009, she has already notched up a nifty little track record, working in various design consultancy roles for the like of De Beers, Mulberry and Burberry in addition to getting on with producing her own collection and working as a designer and consultants on the footwear ranges of other brands.
The seemingly unwearable – though apparently an entirely misleading assumption- austerity and immovability of the forms and materials which make these appear at first glance more like sculptures about shoes than shoes themselves, is the overarching signature to her AW10 collection. But, in amongst the sculptural and outlandish shapes are some far more traditionally sexy shoes too.