Nicholas Kirkwood is a true global success, with 90 stockists all over the world.
Born in Münster, Germany, Kirkwood enrolled on the Art Foundation course at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in 1998. On completion, he was offered a job at milliner Philip Treacy’s London store, where he worked for five years while lodging with the late Isabella Blow. Inspired by Treacy’s statement hats, Kirkwood recognised a gap in the market for shoes and in 2001 enrolled at Cordwainers at London College of Fashion. After one year he dropped out and resumed work with Philip Treacy.
In 2005, Kirkwood raised money for his first eponymous footwear collection by making catwalk shoes for Ghost and John Rocha. The collection was comprised of architecturally inspired pieces with a blend of genres subverting the relationship between femininity and modernity and was received well, winning the Condé Nast Footwear News Vivan Infantino award in 2006 for emerging talent. Kirkwood took his collection to New York, where his shoes came to the attention of Visionaire's Cecilia Dean, who introduced him to fashion label Rodarte - for whom he has been creating show shoes since spring/summer 2009.
In July 2007, Kirkwood’s designs won him the AltaRoma/Vogue Italia award for accessories design, as well as commendations from American Vogue's editor-at-large André Leon Talley and Vogue Italia's editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani for his spring/summer 2008 collection. In March 2008, he was appointed to the role of accessories designer at Pollini (which was relaunched in September 2008), alongside Jonathan Saunders as creative director. At the end of 2008, Kirkwood was awarded the Footwear Designer of the Year award by Condé Nast's Footwear News and was the winner of the Swarovski Emerging Talent for Accessories prize at the British Fashion Awards. He opened his first standalone concession space at London's Dover Street Market in July 2009.
In late 2009, Kirkwood collaborated with Swarovski to design the Nicholas Kirkwood for Atelier Swarovski jewellery collection. He was nominated for the inaugural BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund Award in 2010, but lost to Erdem, with whom he created a collection of co-designed and co-branded shoes for autumn/winter 2010-11. In February 2012, Kirkwood won the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund and later in the year he scooped up the Accessory Designer Award at the British Fashion Awards.