• Olive Thomas. Any idea who she is? Well… Maya Levi, the gal behind the brand gave me the short version but here you can read the long one.
    Maya is one of the nicest and the sweetest designers out there. She has an amazing ability to sweep a girl off her feet and get you immersed in the story behind her shoes. I didn’t want you to miss it so I decided to share with you bits of her journey.
    Before you jump into this inspirational story, visit Olive Thomas’s Summer 2011 catalog.
    {Photos by Dror Ben Naftaly}

  • Alex
  • Yuli
I’d love to hear about you, your journey, how it all began.
I decided to study Industrial design while I was living in London. I was looking for a course in photography and stumbled upon a course in Industrial design, which sounded interesting. I ended up doing an Industrial Design degree back in Israel at Hadassah College in Jerusalem. Funnily enough it was the wish to design shoes that got me hooked, though somewhere along the three-year degree I forgot that. It was only when I completed my degree and looking for a direction that I returned to footwear-design.
Can you describe your work process for me?
I start with a point of inspiration. It’s usually something abstract that becomes concrete in my prototypes. I research my inspiration, find an element the interests me and then translate the element into a pair of shoes.
The different materials also have an important part in the end result. A model can be inspired by a particular last (a block or form shaped like a human foot and used in making or repairing shoes), or some unusual leather.
Once I have my initial sketches I’ll build up a collection according to different “needs”- open or closed shoes, heels or flats, casual or elegant, with the hope that every customer can build her own “shoe-closet”.
Development includes a number of prototypes until I reach the final model, at which point the production will start.
Which materials do you work with?
The shoes are made of leather, however a shoe is made up from soles and heels and of course the last- all of which give the shoe its character. The materials offered in Israel don’t always satisfy my needs, in which case I’ll travel to Turkey or to Italy to find alternatives.
What is the most unusual piece you have ever designed?
During my studies at Akiles, I designed two pair of shoes made from wire – one showing the course of the ball in a basketball game, and the other in a tennis game.
What was the inspiration behind your 2011 Spring/Summer collection?
A book I found at my parents house. It’s a souvenir from the days when girls studied “housekeeping” called “The Complete Guide to Sewing”. The graphics of the book are amazing. From there I continued to Burda magazines and world of stiches’ dressmaking and patterns. For example, “Mor” my take on the classic ballerina, is decorated with stiches resembling the markings for different sizes found in dressmaking patterns.
What’s next? What is your dream?
I started Olive Thomas three years ago because I wanted to provide an alternative in the local shoe market. My dream is to be able to give this alternative to as many people as possible. And to do a second degree at the Royal Collage of Arts, London (Central St Martins will do too :)
I’m curious to know where does your inspiration come from?
I’m inspired by all the different areas of design: graphic design, architecture, fashion, industrial design and art. I’m especially inspired by points of interaction- between people, materials, even buildings.
Can you tell me which designers inspire you?
Proenza Schouler- Every collection I’m amazed by their ability to be so completely accurate, despite the inspiring amount of details in each garment, shoe or bag (one day I will own a PS1).
I also admire Julia Lundsten and her label Finsk. She has a very unique voice and yet manages to make trendy, fashionable shoes.
What about some web sites and blogs that you visit regularly?
Nowness.com, Trendland.net- an inspiring source of art and design from around the world and Refinery29 for my fashion up-dates. I also really enjoyed Nekudot, Yaara Keydar’s blog, but unfortunaly she hasn’t written for a while.
If you had an extra hour each day what would you do?
I’d like to say do something productive, but I’d probably end up catching up on some much needed sleep!