Zack Lo Designs Seriously Sexy Shoes

Shoe designer Zack Lo says his creations are for the "strong and confident modern woman."
-Diana Denza,

Zack Lo first made waves in the fashion world with his debut shoe collection, "Voodoo Circus." The perfect mix of elegant and daring, you can expect classic black stilettos adorned with zesty yellow pompoms or blooming floral designs. We chatted with Lo about his background, design inspirations, and "Virgo", his sure-to-be fabulous 2013 line. These shoes were made for strutting - be sure to grab a pair or two in BettyConfidential Shop's exclusive flash sale!

Betty Confidential: When did you first know you wanted to become a designer? What was the spark?

Zack Lo: I was always attracted to fashion and design, even as young boy. I come from a somewhat conservative family and was encouraged to pursue a practical career path. My compromise with my parents for going to art school was that I would study graphic design. But in art school, I was friends with the fashion folks and got involved with their projects and shows as much as possible. When I traveled to the United Kingdom for graduate studies, I was far enough away from home and from expectations, that I began to look more deeply at fashion as a career. I think I needed that distance from my family and from my home to really get more in touch with my true feelings.

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BC: What was the first thing you ever made? Do you still have it?

ZL: In Taiwan, if you make a particularly nice painting or drawing, the teacher takes it and puts it up on the black board at the back of the classroom as an example for the other students. I can't remember what I made the first time my teacher put me up on the black board, but every time afterward, whenever I made something it was with the silent hope of being recognized. It was a really great lesson for me, that part of being successful is pleasing as many people as possible while at the same time pleasing yourself. I think the teacher kept most of my artwork!

BC: What was your first fashion memory?

ZL: I remember seeing the work of Jean Paul Gaultier in a magazine my older brother had and being really excited by it. Shoes especially always interested me because I sort of thought them as a kind of pedestal. You know, in traditional Asian art, everything of great value is put on a pedestal. When I see a woman in high heels she seems all the more beautiful to me because she is elevated.

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BC: What is your background? Did you go to school or are you self-taught?

ZL: I was born in Taiwan and come from a traditional family, but many of us are also very creative. My older brother, for example is an artist and illustrator. I too went on to study the fine arts of painting and drawing, and then pursued graphic arts and communications design in London. It was there that I met someone from Taiwan who was in the UK to study shoe design, and whose family has a shoe manufacturing business. I started to work with him, initially on creating renderings and color selection, but then later we began to design together.

Soon I had built up my courage to design on my own, while at the same time seeking out an internship with someone who made hand crafted shoes for women. I really wanted to learn the technical aspects of construction too--so I immersed myself in as much of footwear industry as possible, making a special effort to learn by "doing."

BC: What are your personal inspirations?

ZL: I design from a place of intuition, being greatly attracted to things I consider to be "beautiful." This could be anything from old Hollywood movies to Japanese animation; from an elegant shop window in Soho London to old art books I find in a thrift store. My first collection, for example, was inspired by night life in the West End London, by the experience of shopping Carnaby Street and Oxford Circus, by observing beautiful women in cafes and restaurants and such, and then imagining what type of shoes I would have them wear.

BC: How did you feel when you decided to do this for a living: Were you excited, scared, elated or all of the above?

ZL: As a creative but shy person, I try to allow myself to have every true feeling possible, both good and bad. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career as a designer, and at the same time I also wanted to follow my entrepreneurial interests in how to build a brand as business--sort of art and commerce together. For me designing is very joyful because it is a creative act. Figuring out the production, promotion and sales is far more scary because it pushes me further and further into the world. And being responsible for all the folks close to me who work with and for me--that is the scariest of all, because I have a reason to be successful above and beyond myself. And this way my brand also belongs to them, too.

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BC: How did you react the first time someone told you "No"?

ZL: Most young designers sooner or later encounter unscrupulous people who discourage and put you down. All the while they are looking to use your talents or fresh vision for their own gain. It's hard not fall victim to these people, because most sincere designers also have doubts about what they do. It is natural, and it's part of what makes them true to their art--the doubting. My first reaction to that type of "vampire," was to surround myself with the right people. I am lucky that I have supportive people I can trust. When challenges come up, we face them together like a family.

BC: When people look at your shoes, what you want them to take away from viewing them?

ZL: I design for the strong and confident modern woman who is not afraid to express who she is in her fashion choices. One day she may feel like a princess, and then the next day she may feel like a president. I think there should be a shoe for each of these feelings. This is what I have tried to offer in my collections.

BC: Do you have a personal motto?

ZL: "Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old."

BC: If you had to describe your designs in 3 words, what would they be?

ZL: Bold. Assertive. Feminine.

BC: What's next for your line?

ZL: My new collection for 2013 is called "Virago." And like my previous collections, it is for the strong and confident woman not afraid to express who she is. I have expanded into more accessories this time, with handbags, jewelry and scarves.

BC: Is it easy for women to incorporate your shoes into their everyday wardrobes?

ZL: I do think that many of my shoes have a definite "party" vibe. But they are also inspired by classic silhouettes that I see as having stood the test of time. I think they can also work to infuse an edgy sense of style into day or career looks. Hopefully, I am encouraging women to think about dressing in a new way. Women should ask themselves not "What shoes am I going wear with THIS dress," but instead "What dress am I going to wear with THESE shoes?"

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Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.

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