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Diane Hassall


Di Hassall, shoe designer for Rainbow Club- interview

May 23, 2014

Di Hassall

I met Di a some months ago at the Rainbow Club event – she is the head of design for the brand and we had a little chat. We got along really well and stayed in touch! As you all know, I’m a total shoe nutter and I had to find out more about the person behind the creation of such beautiful objects. Di was very gracious and agreed to do an interview, which I am sure will be a fun read as well as informative for anyone wanting to work in shoe design.

1 – when did you fall in love with shoes, do you remember any particular event?

I can’t remember exactly, I just always loved shoes, but when I was at school, aged around 5 or 6, I remember my whole class making models from cardboard boxes, most kids made houses or cars or boats, but I made a pair of Scholl sandals! the buckles were made from silver foil bottle tops and the rest from cardboard and fabric. I think the teacher was a little surprised, especially when I attempted to wear them in class!
Around the same time I went into Nottingham shopping with my Mum, and she bought me new school shoes, silver dance shoes for my dance class and a pair of little shiny red patent shoes that were in a sale, I couldn’t believe it, 3 pairs in one day! I kept them all in their boxes by my bed, and kept taking them out and looking at them. I never changed and since that time shoes became my big love!

2 – How long have you been designing shoes for?

I did my degree in fashion and textiles and for my final project I chose to make shoes, after doing work placements with Emma Hope and Jimmy Choo. On finishing college I set up my own business and learned the rest of my trade the hard way!

3 – What has been the most interesting project you’ve been involved with?

I’m not sure there’s any one thing, I made some shoes for an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum many years ago and they’re now being used again in the current wedding exhibition  there that’s just opened, ironically the shoes look really dated and certainly aren’t my best, but it feels like a real piece of history and I’m so proud of that. However, I get lots of pleasure from doing things like making the occasional one off pair for a bride when we’ve run a competition, because you know you’ve helped make their day extra special. It’s a really good feeling.

4- Which are your favourite shoes ever?

They have to be my little red patent shoes, I don’t have them any more but I can still picture them in their box as if it were yesterday and they were the start of it all.

PicMonkey Collage

5 – Which is your current favourite pair of shoes?

I have a pair of pale pink nubuck shoes with delicate ankle straps and lovely little camellias on the front, they’re called ‘Sugar Plum’ from the Hassall collection, and look just as great with a pair of jeans, flowery summer dress or even a wedding dress!

6 – Tell our readers a little bit about your career – how did you get into shoe design?

At college I did work placements with Emma Hope and Jimmy Choo and that was it, I knew there was nothing else for me. After that I did a course for graduates starting their own businesses and then set up a studio in London. I had to learn a lot along the way and spent time in shoe factories and with hand shoe makers learning whatever I could along the way. It’s not always been easy, but I’ve never wanted to do anything else, and I still love it just as much today.

7 – What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work in the same area?

Keep learning and get as much practical experience as you can from as many different sources as you can.

8 – what advice would you give to your younger self?

Primarily to have more faith in myself, I always thought everyone else was much more talented than me and as a result I didn’t always make the most of the opportunities that came my way.

I’d also tell myself not to be in such a hurry! I always expected everything to happen overnight, and as a result made my mistakes along the way. If I’d had a little more patience I would probably have done things in a more measured way!


Thank you for your time Diane and I hope to see you again soon!