Funky Meets Comfort: Interview with Shoe Designer Hiromi Dragonfield

by Gloria Iseli | September 7th, 2012   

I recently had the pleasure to speak with Japanese shoe designer Hiromi Dragonfield about her line B by Aperire. Dragonfield designs her shoes in Osaka, Japan, then spends time at her Los Angeles boutique, The B Store (in Hollywood on Melrose). The store’s walls are lined with Dragonfield’s designs; which one could only refer to as functional pieces of art. Dragonfield’s mission is to design shoes that woman can wear out to a long night of dancing in the club and not have to hobble home barefoot at the end of the night.

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TheWorkingWardrobe sat down with the designer to find out more about Dragonfield, and how her comfortable and chic aesthetic could benefit the working woman. Dressed in local LA fashion and strappy leather wedges of her own design, Dragonfield described how originally she wanted to go into architecture. She was interested in the small details of when form meets function. After a stint in London, Dragonfield moved to back to Japan to study shoe design at a medical shoe manufacturer, she learned the mechanics of how the foot and shoe work in congress to create a more comfortable shoe. But, the designs tended to be less then inspiring. She entered several shoe design contests and won silver multiple times. Her shoe designs were also featured in Italian shoe magazines. Branching out, Dragonfield created the B by Aperire brand. It first launched in Japan, then expanded in to the US and Europe a few years later.

TheWorkingWardrobe (TWW): How would you describe B by Aperire, and who would wear your shoes?

Hiromi Dragonfield (HD): Funky, street, sexy, edgy – ‘Kawaii.’… Any woman who as an active style and wants to look different and funky.

[According to Wikipedia ‘Kawaii’ is “the quality of cuteness in Japanese culture” and is used to describe aspects of Japanese popular culture.]

TWW: Talk a little bit about the differences between Japanese style vs. style in the US or Europe.

HD: People in LA want sexier. Japanese style is cuter or sportier. My designs have been influenced by LA, in a slightly sexy way. Which is also doing well in Japan, but also is a little dangerous too. When people talk about my shoes they say that they are very LA. To me that is great because LA has a style that goes along with the climate: Endless blue sky, amazing neon colored sunsets and the cartoon size moon inspires me.

TWW: What’s your favorite shoe that you have designed?

HD: The Blues Boot – Savanna is the color. I designed the leather patterns and I put them into the fringe style boot that has sold well in the past seasons. I mixed the leathers because I was inspired by the National Geographic television show; all the animals mingling together perfectly natural and I wanted to put them into the shoes. Animal prints tend to be aggressive and so I stayed with pastels to keep the look feminine.

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TWW: How could a woman wear your designs in a more conservative work place?

HD: Take the Bizee shoe, the top is mesh-work leather like your grandma’s shoe, but because the color and heel are remodeled the look is modern. We all like the feeling of wearing grandma’s shoes, but I want to look cute too. I use a traditional design and I use different materials, raise the heel, and add textures to give my shoes a funky look.

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TWW: You emphasize comfort, how do you achieve that in a high heel?

HD: I used to work at a medical shoe manufacturer and learned about orthopedic and chiropractic methods to shape a cushion to the foot. I install a version of these cushions into my lines to make a more comfortable shoe experience.

After speaking with Dragonfield and checking out her collection, I am definitely looking forward to see what comes out this fall!

Here are a few designs I’ve personally been lusting over:

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Need some tips on traipsing into the office with items that showcase an avant garde aesthetic? Remember…

  • Let the shoes speak for themselves.
  • Wear simple lines like a nice straight leg trouser or pencil skirt.
  • Choose solid colors that complement and show off the shoe.
  • Remember to wear your style with confidence.

The B by Aperire brand recently returned from the FN PLATFORM Show in Las Vegas and in a few weeks will attend the MICAM Shoevent in Milan, Italy. Dragonfield sells in New York, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Oakland, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Chicago, as well as online on at http://www.bbyaperire.com/.