A chat with Catherine Fung, the designer of high-end women’s shoe line Andrew Kayla.
When second-generation shoe moguls Stephen and Michael Lin (Their family’s Hong Kong-based private company has produced footwear for more than 40 years.) decided to launch their own line of women’s shoes, Andrew Kayla, they were eager to find a designer with a keen understanding of femininity—and Catherine Fung, given her background at a 120-year-old lingerie atelier in Paris, was an obvious choice. Adept at balancing comfort and elegance, the Hong Kong-born designer deftly brought the brothers’ vision for simple, sophisticated shoes to life, and Andrew Kayla made its debut in the fall of 2012.
“Each season, we spend a lot of time developing the lasts which define the elegant silhouette and comfort in wearing, and then I focus on the materials,” explains Fung, who graduated with a business management degree from King’s College London before studying fashion design at Parsons in New York. Her resume includes stints at Nicole Miller, House of Field and her own womenswear line, LP&P. Fung adds, “After design, we make prototypes over and over to refine each part, namely the toplines and heels. There are many steps before shoes are competed.”
For Spring ’15, classic silhouettes are infused with unexpected details, adding modern touches to timeless styles. For example, a simple smoking slipper is elevated with iridescent snakeskin; a two-piece flat gets an injection of edge with grommet details; a double monk-strap slingback is placed atop a stocky heel. “A lot of handcrafting work went into the collection, especially with the finishing. Ombré colors were hand-polished on calf and hand-painted stroke marks left on snake skin,” Fung notes, adding that while the Italian-made collection reflects the latest trends, the line never strays from its core philosophy. “Andrew Kayla is never loud, but its distinct point of view sees each design inspire quiet confidence and strength through a beautiful, impeccably crafted shoe.”
What is your first shoe memory? A new pair of red Mary Janes when I was 3 or 4 that I wouldn’t want to take off—I even wore them to bed.
Who is your style icon? Gwyneth Paltrow.
Which famous face would you like to see wearing one of your designs? Gwyneth Paltrow.
Where do you like to shop? Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, an antique market in Paris.
Which shoes in your closet are getting the most wear? Andrew Kayla’s Dylan, a double monk-strap style.
What shoe must every woman have in her closet? A pair of nude leather pumps.
Which trend do you hope to never see again? Crocs.
Which designer do you admire the most? The late Alexander McQueen.
What is your favorite part of your job? Planning the color story and theme at the beginning of every season.
If you weren’t designing shoes, what would you be doing? Designing evening gowns, ready-to-wear or lingerie.