Why make paper shoes? 'Well, how many people do you know who own a pair? They're hard to come by,' Fior jests. Actually, she found herself in Lisbon in her father's graphics studio last year 'with a lot of ideas but no shoemaking equipment. Paper was the answer. After all, you don't need to stitch or nail it. It's a question of cut, stick and paste.'
The shoes function a bit like a diary, employing ideas and scraps picked up on her travels. 'The materials I use are from my collection of printed ephemera.' One is made from shiny multi-coloured sweet wrappers and others betray a well-developed taste for Portuguese cakes.
One high-heeled number shows Rita Hayworth posing seductively. Another features 1993's Arsenal team around the heel, a cheeky line-up of football programme cut-outs.
But the real showstopper is a boot made from lottery tickets. 'I befriended an old man in the ticket shop who saved me all his lucky numbers - if you look closely all the numbers on the boot are the same.'
After completing a design course at Cordwainer's in Hackney five years ago, Fior made a pilgrimage around Europe's footwear colleges. In 1993 she went to Portugal to work in leather. No dice. 'But Lisbon is littered with paper. I'm like a hawk with cardboard boxes. As for loo roll tubes - indispensable for heels.
Her efforts haven't gone unrewarded. She was asked to create a shoe exhibition for Moda Lisboa, Portugal's answer to London Fashion Week. Next year she returns to lecture on shoe design alongside Jean-Paul Gaultier.
Back in London, Fior took her treasures to Janet Fitch. Fitch instantly decided on a window display. 'These shoes are dainty and witty. They combine Dadaist elements and surrealism with a contemporary twist because they're made of paper and fragile.'
Fior wants to be more than fragile. Although her creations are not functional, her latest samples are wearable. 'I am keen to develop paper uppers that could be manufactured, but at the moment they are more one-off objects d'art. Each shoe is collaged together which is time consuming. I'm hoping to achieve mass production. . .with a photocopier.'
Patient but bemused workers at Crocket and Jones, traditional shoemakers in Northampton, have helped Fior to develop a loafer with an upper from postage stamps. She laughs: 'It's an open invitation to get your feet stamped on.'
Rosa Fior shoes at Janet Fitch, Neal St WC2 from this Saturday. Rosa Fior (071-225-9792)
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