FAULT:: How has your background in television shaped your approach to accessories?

Rob:: My job in TV was always a money earner which allowed me to pursue more creative endeavours on the side. It can be a great industry and I feel privileged to have met some amazing people but it was never going to be a fulfilling career in the long run as I knew I needed to work creatively with my hands and mind if I was going to be truly happy – hence shoemaking.

FAULT:: How did you come to specialize in leather?

Rob:: I chose to do shoemaking because it involved primarily working with leather. Leather is the most incredible material that manifests itself in so many forms. Some leather is like silk and others are like wood, bending and warping to whatever shapes your mind can imagine. I can’t see me getting bored of using it in the foreseeable future.

FAULT:: Your studies at LCF culminated in an unusual pairing:: the Venetian carnival and the indigenous tribes of the Congo. How did you settle on this theme?

Rob:: I’ve always enjoyed finding comparisons between seemingly diverse pairings. Before settling on a theme for my MA final collection I’d made a few masks or helmets by transposing footwear techniques from foot to head and had some success with the results. I wanted to create a collection of footwear and headwear that had a historic European regal elegance combined with a more brutal tribal aesthetic. The mask making traditions of both Venice and the Congo Delta seemed a perfect marriage to me.

FAULT:: How would you describe your aesthetic in three words?

Rob:: Regal, Heroic, Rock n’ Roll.

FAULT:: Working by hand certainly plays a pivotal role in your aesthetic. Why is this important to you?

Rob:: You hardly ever see hand skills used in luxury goods anymore besides the very top end bespoke items. If you walk around the V&A or The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris you see incredible objects made by craftspeople that are full of character and clearly made with love and pride. This isn’t as visible in mass produced factory made products. It’s impossible to make things by hand without charging a large price so sales are few and far between but at this stage I’d rather develop these skills and try to imbue my work with personality and care. The money will arrive one day I hope.

FAULT:: You also create leather sculptures. How did this come about?

Rob:: I have always made art and spent many years painting with little success. I finally gave up on art and learned shoemaking instead and all of a sudden art came knocking at my door. I think there is an interest in skill and craft in the art world and it’s audience at present – maybe a reaction to decades of conceptual art filling every gallery. I don’t have any overriding agenda with my sculptures other than beauty for beauty’s sake. I’ve been very lucky to exhibit in group shows alongside some amazing artists and hope to do so again later this year.

FAULT:: How important does the balance between functionality and beauty play in your work?

Rob:: With shoes, functionality is the key element. Some designers are happy to make virtually unwearable shoes in the quest for avant garde design but I see the fact that they exist to be worn as the most fulfilling challenge and spur to creativity. The headwear and other accessories can be outlandish and free but shoes have to look just as beautiful despite being dragged across concrete and danced around in for hours on end. Beautiful but wearable shoes mean that the woman wearing them can carry the rest of the outfit with poise and grace.

FAULT:: What are you up to at the moment?

Rob:: I’m making another collection of shoes and accessories as we speak and I’m hopefully going to be making some shoes for a film in the next few months. Fashion is an incredibly hard business to start out in unless you have wealthy parents or benefactors – I have neither, and the risks are huge and all on the designers shoulders so I will continue to design and make couture items but will also use my skills wherever there is an appreciative market.

FAULT:: What is your FAULT?

Rob:: I’ll admit I broke it but I’ll glue it back together as good as new.