x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

'Shoes are about expressing yourself'

Although she still remembers when she was first allowed to choose her own clothes, British shoe designer, Georgina Goodman, always designed clothes.

"I can't really remember a time in my life when I wasn't interested in clothes and shoes," says the designer Georgina Goodman.

The British shoe designer Georgina Goodman on New Romantics, party dresses and stilettos. I think there's a point when you become who you are - probably around 15 or 16. You're allowed to make your own choices. Before that, it's more what you're allowed to have. It's your parents who put you in a party dress as a child, so that's not your choice. But I always made clothes - my dolls' clothes or whatever. I've always been interested in being different or looking interesting or making something that's not necessarily fashionable but that I thought was really great. There's always been a designer inside.

I used to go to a youth club on Fridays and I'd always plan what I was going to wear weeks in advance and then make different outfits. When I was growing up it was all about the New Romantics - about expressing yourself as an individual, not copying what was already out there. It was more about costumes than clothing. I remember buying two T-shirts and cutting them up so I'd have a sort of Harlequin look with pink and black on each side.

If you can't buy something that's different, then you make something or customise it. I think clothing is about expressing how you want to feel or who you are - especially shoes, because women sort of access themselves emotionally through shoes. If you want to feel sexy you can put on some heels. If you want to feel practical you can put on something practical and change your mood instantly. I remember playing games with clothes and playing shoe shop with my mum's shoes. I always used to enjoy watching my mother getting ready to go out for a dinner and dance because that's when she'd put on a beautiful dress and look really amazing.

I'm one of four girls and we were always dressed identically. My mum spent a lot of time making our clothes and making sure we all looked immaculate. There was not much difference in age between us. My mum was really, really practical: we wore identical dresses when we went out but for playing we wore jeans. We lived in the country. We were always in the garden. We had dogs and horses. You put your clothes on and they got dirty and it didn't matter. Then when we got dressed to go out, we all looked lovely. So that was really nice.

There are pictures of us going out and we always looked absolutely amazing. Looking back, it was really cute. I don't think you're aware when you're five, six, seven... But I think being allowed to grow into who you are is an important aspect of growing up. Shoes are now such an enormous thing. It hasn't always been like that. There's this phenomenon of "I love shoes". I can't really remember a time in my adult life when I wasn't interested in clothes and shoes and accessories.

I was a stylist before I became a shoe designer. I went to Cordwainers College and then I did my MA at the Royal College. For some people it's not about the making of the shoes, but I love it. I don't make shoes now, but I do make prototypes. I work in 3D to figure out if something will work. I shop from different places - a bit of high street, a bit of designer. If I see something I like I'll buy it, and if it's a great T-shirt I'll buy three of them. I'm always travelling, so I'm quite often shopping where I am.

Part of my job is to see what's out there in the market, so I'm often in really great shops around the world pretending that I'm researching. I go to markets, to designer sales. I'm not a manic shopper, so I just buy things when I see them. I really like the vintage shop Rellik (www.relliklondon.co.uk), so I'll go there every couple of months. I've got a massive wardrobe. I've always bought vintage and I don't tend to throw things away because the things I've bought are not fashion items. They're like a great jacket or a fab dress and they don't ever go out of fashion. I rotate my wardrobe so it always feels like I've got something new to wear.

My first big splurge was a pair of Martine Sitbon shoes in the 1980s. They were £245 (Dh1,500), which is probably like spending £600-700 (Dh3,650-4,250) now. They were black suede and really amazing, like a shoe boot, and just gorgeous. The others were a pair of Patrick Cox purple over-the-knee boots that I've still got. They are amazing. I've never been a guilty shopper: if you earn your money and you can afford it, then you can buy it. That's what shopping is about: it's not about making yourself feel bad, it's about making yourself feel good.

Georgina Goodman shoes are available at Harvey Nichols, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.