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Fancy Feet

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Serene Gandhi is the shoe designer behind the custom footwear label, Cara Pyramids. She talks to Dev Goswami about her fascination with shoes, what her brand offers and much more

From shoes sporting tassels and beads to those featuring embroidery using golden thread, Cara Pyramids offers shoes that are unique and eye-catching — see for yourself by checking out the brand’s creations alongside (inset pictures on the right and top right). We speak to the creative mind behind these creations, Serene Gandhi, who tells us about her inspirations and what goes into making bespoke footwear.

Fashion provides a person with a lot of avenues to showcase their creativity. Why did you choose shoes?
Footwear has always reminded me of a fairytale, where stories such as Cinderella and The Elves & the Shoemaker made me believe that shoes were magical. The need to create shoes and not just buy them took shape when I felt that [when it came to footwear] the same styles and designs were being created over and over again. I wanted to be the first person in India to make footwear magical. Once I set my mind to it, it took on a life of its own and I found my calling; I can’t imagine doing anything else now. Acting on my penchant for design and my passion for shoes, I enrolled at Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) and later trained under a renowned industrial professor from Italy, where I mastered the intricate details and cuts involved in crafting a state-of-the-art shoe.

From tassels and frills to embroidery, your designs are extremely unconventional. How do you come up with ideas for each design?
I try to tell a story with every pair of shoes that I create, which is why I rarely design an entire collection, because it puts limitations on what I can do with each design. So, each and every design that I create has a unique theme.

Tell us what goes into making a pair of Cara Pyramids shoes.
Technique and taste work in tandem, allowing different ideas to come together. Designing something new takes almost a week — we cut the patterns and make a mock design, then do a durability test on the material. Only then do we start working on the final footwear. Detailing is a process that takes place simultaneously; our work doesn’t stop at creating a sketch or making the pattern — we go through everything from the engineering of the shoes, to details on the nailing system and the length or thickness of the nail or screw and the quality of the insole. I’ve added a hidden padding that has memory foam inside the insole, which sinks into this cushion when you’re wearing the shoes. I also make the heels by hand, so that the instep and the arch are all in the
right place.

If I were to give you an unlimited budget and absolute design-control, what shoes would you come up with?
On an unlimited budget — the first thought that comes to mind is working with diamonds! I think that I would get a mold made for a half-boot, made with a single diamond; if possible.

What tips would you give a woman who wants to make a statement with a basic pair of black heels?
You can tweak your black heels by adding hot-stick stones, or even an ankle belt that can be stitched through a loop at your neighbourhood tailor. And if the material of the shoe allows it, you can personalise it with a hand painting.

What are your future plans for Cara Pyramids?
I am looking at franchises, where we will offer off-the-rack products and semi-bespoke services. Under semi-bespoke services, clients can mix and match from our off-the-rack collections, change the materials and play with the colours. The price for these services will be the same as the off-the-rack products listed on our website.

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