Creative director and shoe designer Luke Grant-Muller is an interesting and diverse character. He could easily be described as an allrounder in many artistic subjects, a man who sometimes works solely on his own or in collaboration with many mediums covering mainly illustration, painting, fashion, music and video.
His work tends to be dark and surreal, bordering on the bizarre and often provide little conceptual explanation. The reason for this, as he explains, is that “it offers a moment of ambiguity for people to read things into the work as they see fit whilst at the same time respecting the viewer’s appreciation of aesthetics and utility.” Since illustration, painting, fashion, music and video have been his main focus over the years, Luke has reluctantly fallen into shoe design, simply because “I couldn’t find the styles I wanted…., or if I did, I would be trying to hobble around in women’s sized shoes.” Surely such a statement would bring a natural smile to your face as you try and imagine him teetering around the room in women’s shoes.
However, after designing his first pair of shoes about a year ago, he is now starting to enjoy it. Since his childhood, Luke says he has been taught to be inquisitive and to mix things to create something new. With no formal background in shoemaking, his professional background being music, Luke has through trial and error pursued something that he is extremely proud of.
A talented artist who generally enjoys creating things in any medium means that fashion has been an extension of his art and as such is no exception to this unique shoe designer. He explains that each medium has different qualities and different rewards, despite there being a great deal of overlap, and proudly adds, “Actually, thinking about it, I do find it fun to approach something in an unusual way. Maybe a sculptor would sculpt, a designer would design, an artist would umm… and a composer would compose.” When it comes to fashion, Luke thinks differently and explains that most of what he creates is “really just superficial, there’s nothing deep in it.” Apart from wracking his brain to the point of “…being completely stifled by trying to justify my work with some sort of deep meaning” once his designs are aesthetically pleasing to him, then Luke is happy and if it makes others happy and they see something deeper, then he is also happy. But he stresses the question, “Why should anything that’s created have to have any meaning to be justified?”
Luke’s ideal of what matters most to him as a shoe designer isn’t what you may expect but you can’t help but admire his quirkiness and the thought process behind his art. “I create for me,” he explains,“If others like it, that’s good but my ego is far too delicate to depend on that. Actually that’s a lie; I crave other people’s approval.”
Hailing from Bradford but now living in London, he describes his home town as primarily utilitarian and London as pretty diverse. “There’s a whole crowd of whatever your niche is. I found myself quite alienated in Bradford but London is big enough for you to feel like you’re not completely alone in your tastes, your thoughts and your quirks.” Having a preference for east London but specifically the east London of a few years ago, Luke prefers theNathanBarley-types of the day rather than the more gentrified crowd that has taken over. Despite the “snobbery and dumbfounded dissing from those more down to earth” which he says these days are more of a fake bought creativity, he also feels comfortable wearing what he describes as a “fashion bukakke of the most ridiculous of things” and is most comfortable being in Tokyo where “at least I don’t have a clue if someone’s dissing my getup.”
As a shoe designer, Luke says he would have loved to have throngs of hot women at his door. “I get a little recognition but unfortunately shoes go on the feet, not the head and so don’t feature much on people’s out-and-about photos” but he feels proud when people he respect expresses their appreciation. Accounting for all his mediums, Luke describes his design signature as “slightly dark, slightly surreal, ambiguous, androgynous, sometimes grimey and sometimes polished,” whilst leaning toward the past.
A shoe takes him three or four days to make and according to Luke is quite a task, taking “far more of everything than anyone that doesn’t make shoes can appreciate.” His favourite colours to work with are black, the royals, and chromes and antiqued, and he mixes it up by experimenting with new materials, using them in new ways or new combinations.“I love to use all sorts of materials but at the same time I enjoy the challenge of restricting myself as it forces me to explore new options that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.”
Luke Grant-Muller’s shoe collection include Full Brogue Oxfords Standard in gold, mirror silver and holographic, mirror gold, mirror silver and holographic python skin, and three-inch Oxfords in gold, silver and black with crepe creeper sole for those gentlemen wanting a little bit more height.