Last week I sat for a talk with Inga Savits, an accomplished model who recently started her own shoe brand out of Milan. Her love affair with designing for fashion dates from long before her modeling years and it's interesting to see how she took advantage of her work as a model to pursue her dream of becoming a shoe designer; and a great one too.
Already in her third collection, Inga's designs have been spotted in red carpets across the globe and in collaborations with emerging french designer Alexis Mabille.
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Model Designer: Inga Savits
After a successful career in front of the camera, some models open up night clubs and restaurants, others launch their own fragrances and skincare lines and many of them work in collaboration with large brands to launch fashion collections with their names attached to it. When it comes to Inga Savits however, it goes the other way around.
At the age of 19, Inga was attending fashion school in Estonia, her home country, when she was approached by a model scout while shopping. Puzzled by the idea of having an opportunity to see how fashion was done from behind the scenes, the student took that chance and went to Paris. Inga’s first job was with Mr. Yves Saint Laurent, in 1998. Inga spent a few days with Mr. Saint Laurent in his atelier, hair coiffed and red lipstick on, while he worked on his collection. “My eyes were open to see how he was making his dresses, what kind of accessories he was pairing with them, pretty much everything!”. After walking YSL’s famous catwalk, Inga was thrown into the arms of the fashion industry, which embraced and still holds her dearly.
During the time spent as a model in Milan, Inga met the shoe designer Brian Atwood, who then lived there. In observing his passion for shoes, Inga realized that shoe making was what she wanted to pursue in fashion. With more than a decade of experience as a model, it was time to dive into her long time passion and for that, she moved permanently to the Italian city. She was delighted to be closer to the shoe factories she worked closely with as well as old friends who constantly inspire her to create her own namesake line, Inga Savits.
Still unsure of whether she should go back to school to study the craft of shoemaking or not, Inga took some time to research the industry. “I went to a friend of mine who works at Versace and asked his opinion. He said I had the best teachers in the world, from Mr. Yves Saint Laurent to Galliano and Donatella Versace, teachers that most students would never have a chance to meet in their lives. In his opinion I was better off with the experience I had gathered as a model. He said if I went to school for shoe design I would not allow my creativity to take flight and could be restrained by the practicalities.”
Inga’s designs are a reflection of her years on and off of the catwalk, and are inspired by her life. The main goal is to create designs that are stylish and feminine without having to compromise in comfort and versatility. “Unfortunately in fashion when you say comfortable people think about medical shoes, or ugly shoes, and my goal is to show that it is possible to create very feminine shoes that can be comfortable at the same time. I had to learn to walk in very uncomfortable shoes, so now I want to make the type of shoe you can feel good about and wear anywhere at any time of day, I don’t want women to be fashion victims when I can combine both things.” explains the designer.
Production costs may be a little steep, but Italy is where she brings her designs to life; her goal is to really establish her brand at the top, so she only works with the best factories. Entirely self-funded, Savits explains that her business is the size it was meant to be, her goal with her brand from the start was to begin small and build up from there.
Already in her third season, scheduled to debut during the September shows in Paris, the designer has gathered great compliments from her peers and has even managed to secure a collaboration between her brand and the emerging French designer Alexis Mabille for whom she is also developing a second collection for his show.
Knowing exactly what she wants for her brand, and when asked if she would ever consider going into clothing, the answer is immediate and firm: “No! I could maybe do some bags, but not clothes. I recently started looking at some bags and was really interested in them, it would be a good complement to my collection, but at the moment I am really focused in expanding my shoe collections and establishing my brand in the market.”
Inga Savits is available for sale in New York at Patron of the New
in Tribeca and on line at Feminin Rascal
You can follow the designer on twitter at @IngaSavits
and check out her website at www.ingasavits.com