I first met Adriana a few months ago, in her hometown of Chiswick, London where she lives with her husband and daughter. Graduating from LCF in 2011 where she gained a Masters in Women’s Footwear Design, I took this opportunity to sit down with her to chat. Walking into her studio, holding a glass of Prosecco in her right hand, she says, “Please excuse me Ellie, I haven’t put any lipstick on!” Causing us both to laugh.
At just age 42, Adriana Dickson has succeeded in many challenges. Originally from Romania, she started off as a set designer during her years within the arts industry – working alongside actors, costume designers, stylists and directors. First gaining a degree from University of Arts Bucharest (Romania) in Set & Costume Design to pursuing her dream career in shoe design Adriana has taken every opportunity. Five years later and Adriana found herself moving to the UK and decided it was time to get into the creative industry once again.
And so, we begin.
EA: As you’re from Romania, what was the fashion/arts industry like working there? Did you enjoy it?
AD: “I started there in set design and fashion – both at the same time as I had experience with both but I loved more of the theatre and film. I was attracted to cinema and working with costumes was a lot more creative and involved more skill. That’s where I met my husband actually – he was the director! But it was very interesting, a lot of team work, experimentation and energy and fun, exhausting – but fun.”
EA: What was the first piece of work you were involved in? Did you work on any films?
AD: “Yeah of course, yes, I started out on set designs. So, I had to do costumes for a film, this film had won a lot of awards, but it was a contemporary movie which had won directors debut, actors debut, set design debut. Back then, in Romania all the cast became famous, but they are well known in the professional industry. The film was a lovely story but I did throw myself in the deep end.”
EA: Going back to your footwear designs, what have you accomplished since your master’s degree?
AD: “Well the first piece I had to design, was in England and it was a pair of shoes that went in a contest for getting things into production – it was for NewLook. So, these shoes had got through to production and there were 4 people that were selected from our groups. We were told to design our own brief – so I was inspired by the world that a woman has before she goes out. I always love that intimacy where the woman, where the woman is getting ready to go out. There’s something magical about her own transformation, and I wanted to show that through my shoe designs. So, I transformed my ideas into a couple of collections and they selected one of them. It was a shoe for a wedding actually!
It was a lot of fun walking up to the store and seeing your own product in the shop, yes amazing feeling. The thing is, designers always in fashion have to have the knowledge of their product in terms of technically – you can’t just guess.”
EA: That must have been incredible! How did you find your time at LCF? Did you enjoy it?
AD: “Yes, so studying at LCF made me expand on other creative designs and areas within footwear production. I wish I had more days spent there. They had fantastic facilities and I wish I could have experimented more – but I did, I did a lot of work there. When you have facilities in the design area, you know, you’d have jewellery machines, metal facilities and when you’re experimenting for your masters it was available to you and you could try anything you want. Obviously, it was one of the best equipped places to study footwear, being the old cordwainers building.”
EA: What’s been your highlight of your career so far?
AD: “There was a moment when I was working for this bespoke company, and one of these ladies was going to be the mother of a bride and she couldn’t find shoes for herself so I was very brave to offer my services to make a pair of shoes for her. So…I did. I did the entire process on my own and it was nerve-wracking. It was difficult but now looking back it was a big satisfaction for me to finish. Everything was designed. The heel was designed, the shoe was made by me, Swarovski crystals included – I had put everything into this project. And she was extremely happy with the shoes. I was so relived!”
EA: If you had to choose your ‘’go to’’ shoe brands, who would you choose and why?
AD: “Well, I’d have to begin with Dior. Yes, some of Dior not all. I love the way they make the shoes; the process comes easy as it’s a bit more established. But my second would be Pierre Hardy – one of my favourite designers, always has been.”
EA: Before we go, what’s your goal for 2017?
AD: “Well, towards the new year I would love to begin my own bespoke company – however specialising in more of the production of shoes. Constructing and building my own little team would be a dream of mine.”
By Eleanor Anderson