Chrissie Morris is an English shoe designer dedicated to preserving the traditional Italian craftsmanship with her namesake collection. She studied fashion design at the John Moores University of Liverpool, where she sharpened her talents in drawing, painting and sculpture. Having launched her line in 2008, much has changed in the accessories market and her personal life. Through the changes Morris has maintained her focus and her experiences inform her thoughtful design process. Morris is well known for her expertly architectural designs and her unique approach allows her to be experimental while producing quality footwear for her devoted clients around the world.
What inspired your dedication to preserving the art of Italian footwear craftsmanship?
I studied in Italy, and had the luxury of seeing local artisans, committed to the craft, working sometimes solely for the joy of creating something beautiful and with integrity, made to last. I was hooked after that.
How did achieving such early success impact your business model?
Despite early success (and early failures too), we’ve surrounded ourselves with good and clever people who have guided and supported what we do, and that has helped us stay focused. There are so many moving parts to this business, we are fortunate to have stable forces positively impacting our business model.
In your opinion, how has the accessories market changed, good and bad, since launching your brand in 2008?
From the expanded accessories collections now offered by global ready-to-wear brands to the increased real estate at retail for accessories, specifically shoes, the market has changed dramatically. And while there is more space in which to seduce the consumer, there is not necessarily more space for designers, specifically smaller yet growing independent companies, like mine, who are having to compete with big business, big branding, pricing and overseas production, not just on design, style and fit. Neither good nor bad, it just is what it is. We continue to be nimble and reflexive, and our loyal retail partners support what we do, our philosophy, our work. Ultimately, the CHRISSIE MORRIS woman, appreciates the quality and the craftsmanship and the design, and I’m always amazed when new people seek us out, or when I read emails from women who have taken the time to write about how this shoe made them feel. Any market change is manageable after that.
How has your work/life balance changed as your family has grown?
Having a family means both my partner and I are obliged to work smarter, as you just have less time. But, the balance was there before, we just socialized differently.
Has this influenced your design point of view?
Not necessarily. As my life experiences have evolved to include being a mother, I do think about what a woman wants in a shoe, where she plans to wear it, and how. But, at the end of the day, I want women to be able to enjoy expressing themselves through my shoes, and this philosophy guides the design process.
Are you the one traveling to oversee production in Italy?
While I may travel to review how a new technique was carried out, we do have a manager overseeing production.
How often are you going back and forth between the UK and Italy?
A lot. Plus trips to different parts of the world where we sell CM or plan to sell CM. I believe if you’re selling to a particular international region, you need to see how the people live, how they interact with fashion in order to better understand their needs.
Do you have official or unofficial brand ambassadors? Who is your muse?
My muses are disparate: I have designed collections in which my Mum, my sister, my female relatives were my biggest sources of inspiration. Some have been designed with Eileen Gray, Grace Jones and Princesses Leia and Aura, in mind. I design for strong women, who are fearless and funny, who understand that magic can sometimes happen, just by clicking their heels together.
Who are your favorite ready-to-wear designers you love seeing paired with your shoes?
From Haider Ackerman to Vivienne Westwood, Phoebe Philo to Stella Jean, or Karl Lagerfeld, I like and respect many designers. I appreciate the level of commitment and hard work that goes into seeing your vision realized each season, and the compromise you’re often obliged to make to see this vision through. Whether my designs work well with theirs depends entirely upon the pieces selected by the wearer.
If you could collaborate with an artist or another designer – who would you choose?
How about Kate Bush or Rei Kawakubo, George Lucas or Nicolas Ghesquire, or Yoko Ono?