Very pleased and excited to announce Heidi Goran and Susanna Horal of “Goran Horal” as The Featured Designer. I am truly so honoured to have had the opportunity to speak with Heidi and Susanna about their unique and majestic shoe designs, and to discover the many questions I have developed over the years.
I first discovered the Instagram account @goranhoral about two years ago. Since then, I have been eager to add this particular designer to my archived collection. Last March, I was interviewed by Fashion Moves Forward and was asked what other designers I like to mix with my Rick Owens collection? My answer consisted of a pair of Goran Horal shoes.
Today, I am now the owner of two pairs of Goran Horal shoes, and couldn't be happier. I am thrilled to share with you The Featured Designer exclusive with Goran Horal.
As graduates of Esmod, Paris and Central Saint Martins, London, the Paris based designers Heidi Göran and Susanna Horal have come together to reinvent their foundations and push the boundaries between art, craft and design.
After years of collecting influences from various countries and fields, the duo that comes from a mixed heritage of Swedish, Czech and Chilean cultures, reunited in Paris where they had first met at age 18.
It was their wish to redefine the conventional perception of elegance, taking their research further than trends, away from mass consumption and a will to form a product of artisan qualities, that lead them to launch their own label in 2012.
Honouring the traditions of the trade, they create handmade sculptural pieces with constructions that requires truly skillful craftsmanship.
In the interview with Antonioli, it was stated that your collections are based on feelings and are inspired by your cultural backgrounds, nature, deep forests and the peacefulness that exists there.
1) For the shoe I have N°7 (shown in the photos above), what is the story behind this particular piece?
“The model n°7 was actually one of the first shoes we designed and from that shoe together with one other high-heeled model and a flat, we have built our collections to this day”.
I absolutely love this style of shoe, concept, material and silhouette. I remember seeing your creations on Instagram a few years ago and being captivated to know more about them.
2) Watching your creations grow, and now understanding more of the history behind your designs, how was the model N°7’s story created?
“The n°7 for us represents the basic of our aesthetic and the story we want to tell. It is a story which is empowering, grounding and poetic, just like the deep Swedish forests”.
3) Now that I know more about the beginning of your creations, what about the collection as a whole? How does the N°7 fit within the collection now?
“We let our collection expand in a quite organic way, and so it's essence is our intuition and our emotions which are partially shaped by our cultural backgrounds. One finds the Swedish sense of minimalism and functionality in our designs, plus we draw a lot of our inspiration from artists like John Bauer and from Swedish folklore. But then there is also the bold and nonconforming silhouettes which in a way, stem from our mixed cultural heritage. Susanna is half cheque and I am half chilean. We grew up with a different outlook on things in a very conform Swedish society, always torn between the pride of being different and the feeling of having to fit in.”
The pride of being different, and the feeling of having to fit in. This is so true, genuine and relatable (for me at least).
4) Going back to one of my first questions, I am so curious to know which flat shoe was paired with model N°7 that built your collections to this day.
“The two models are N°2 and N°7, and it is on those shapes that we have based the rest of our designs”.
5) How did this process of your creations begin and how do they all relate?
“We wanted to make something grounding and stable, a base for women to rest on, not to expose them but to cradle them. Giving them a silhouette of a pagan androgynous creature, fascinating and unfathomable.”
The handmade creations you have designed are absolutely stunning. You are stock listed in a variety of places on a global scale including Patron of The New in New York City (where I purchased my model N°7), Antonioli in Milan, Eizenstein London in the UK, the list goes on.
6) With that being said, do you have a team of cobblers producing the work, or do you finalize each pair by hand yourselves?
“Thank you, it's always nice to hear :). We work very closely with a team of cobblers and are very much a part of the process. It always starts by creating the spine of the shoe which is the last and this is always done by us alone. Bold shapes and comfort are at the core of our design work, making this part of the process very important and so the original forms used to make anyone of our lasts, are always first sculpted by us. We also sculpt the original shapes for the heels and platforms. During the production we work together with our cobblers to make sure all the cutting, sewing and lasting is done just the way we want it. In the final stages we always take care of finishing touches like for example hand painting. Hand painting means that we put the finishing coating or we dye the leather our selves. This is to make the shoes and material that we used look and feel a certain way.
We do everything from shaping the lasts to sketches and material sourcing and then once thats done we work closely to the cobblers to ensure we get the result we want and as we like to be a part of the process. For both of us the best part of creating is working with our hands so we don´t want to give away to much of the work. This is also our way to try on different techniques to come up with the final result for each model.
For next season we have been working with horn from Swedish elk, all sustainably hunted by family and friends. The horn has then been carved by us into toe pieces for the shoes.”
The choice of materials selected and used for your creations are incredible. Even the packaging is gorgeous! I noticed the packaging was different than the other box I have from the N°7 heel.
7) Is there a meaning or reason for this? If so, please elaborate.
“Well, to be honest making the packaging has not been easy, a real struggle actually. Box makers would never present us with options that we liked. It is a standing joke between us that making a shoe box is more difficult than making a shoe haha. So in the beginning we had the design of the packaging down, but we have since then been wanting to find a more eco-friendly alternative. It has taken us some time but now we have finally managed to find a solution that we are happy with.
This ties up with the beginning of your question where you mention the antelope leather. The antelope leather comes from South African wild animals that have been sustainably hunted by the local tribes. Although we do not market ourselves as an eco-label, we do like to take as much responsibility as possible in making conscious choices.”
That is too funny! For anyone who knows me, I am obsessed with collecting boxes. I have to say after receiving this particular box, I was very impressed.
8) Last but not least, I have to ask, when thinking of a designer in fashion, most people assume clothing. Where and why did the idea of becoming shoe designers come from?
“Our training was in graphics and fashion as well as shoe design so I don't really think that it was the determining factor. We both just prefer working with harder materials, as opposed to working for example with draping or cutting in fabric. Shoes has always been a passion for both of us. Furthermore we felt that the market was quite saturated at the time with clothes and that it lacked of what it was that we wanted to create.”
After speaking with Susanna and Heidi, everything makes complete sense now. If you have not tried on, held, purchased or have even seen a Goran Horal shoe in person, you will understand when that day eventually comes what I am about to say. The shoes are not heavy, but they are stable. The shoes are not feminine, nor masculine. I find it absolutely incredible how the women behind Goran Horal have captured this essence in such a beautiful and poetic form.
The fit of both shoes are extremely comfortable, which means a lot coming from me! I have only a few pairs of shoes that are not in the form of some sort of flat or sneaker. The reason for this is because of comfort. I like to be comfortable. Goran Horal has combined both aesthetic, and comfort.
Thank you Susanna and Heidi for letting us into your world. I can't wait to see and collect more of your creations.