Designer Chat: Terry De Havilland

Not one for habitually following trend forecasting reports, British designer Terry De Havilland made a rare exception for his recent spring collection. “I had a tipoff that my designs from the ’70s were part of a heavy-duty prediction chart,” says the designer, who made a splash that decade with his strappy Margaux platform wedge. Instead of watching copycats reinterpret his work, De Havilland beat them to the punch and knocked himself off. “My ’70s styles are what my customers want so that’s what I’m giving them,” he explains.

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Not one for habitually following trend forecasting reports, British designer Terry De Havilland made a rare exception for his recent spring collection. “I had a tipoff that my designs from the ’70s were part of a heavy-duty prediction chart,” says the designer, who made a splash that decade with his strappy Margaux platform wedge. Instead of watching copycats reinterpret his work, De Havilland beat them to the punch and knocked himself off. “My ’70s styles are what my customers want so that’s what I’m giving them,” he explains.

With 50 years of design experience (Selfridges in London recently marked the anniversary with a month-long exhibit of his work), De Havilland’s style is second nature. He describes his footwear aesthetic as “sexy, wearable shoes with the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) ethos.” For Spring ’12, that means the Margaux revamped with python, colorblock platform pumps, crystal-embellished peep-toe shoeties, Mondrian-inspired flats and lots of gold, silver and color metallics.

De Havilland also embraces the return of pointed toes: “I love points. They’re what I cut my teeth on, so I’m testing the waters with them again.” Lower heel styles also have a tinge of ’60s Mod simplicity but, De Havilland adds, part of the fun is trying to make flats look sexy again. “My
shoes are really classic and I think they stand the test of time. I steer clear of anything too gimmicky or too obvious and concentrate more on profile, color, texture and shape to create a statement,” he says. “I’m a bit of a maverick.” —Angela Velasquez

What trend do you hope to never see again? If there’s one thing in life that I’ve learned, it’s never say never. I’ve gone off certain trends and then, five years pass, and suddenly I love them again.

Who do you think is the best-dressed woman of the moment? Gwyneth Paltrow. There’s something going on with her at the moment. I also really like Michelle Pfeiffer’s elegance, and I can’t help but love the anarchy of Helena Bonham Carter.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Keeping the balance between creativity and commerciality. I get very frustrated by prediction charts. I think they stifle individuality. The business of fashion is a strict and fickle mistress.

If you weren’t designing, what do you think you’d be doing? It’s not a job; it’s what I do. For me there is no alternative. I can’t imagine retiring. I wouldn’t know how to fill my days.

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