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Emily Kroll ~ Shoe designer, mother, musician and muse of our summer c


First of all, congratulations on becoming a mom! Can you talk about how you have changed even though this is all brand new?

I know it sounds cliché but I didn’t know the immensity of my heart. All I wanna do is look at Maddalena and make her laugh. But there is also an intense desire to do all in my power to make the world a better place for her.

You photographed our summer collection with your husband / photographer Gabriel Hernandez. How was it ?

We started filming three weeks after Maddalena was born and continued intermittently between feedings and crying until she was three months old. It was wonderfully intimate as my husband documents my changing postpartum body in the radiant colors and fabrics of Araks. I think we tend to pay attention to the body of pregnant women, but we often forget to celebrate the beauty of the body right after giving birth.

Can you tell us about your education and your background? What was your childhood like and how was creativity and self-expression cultivated as a teenager?

I grew up in Austin, Texas, and had super thick bifocal lenses from the age of one. Everything was either completely blurry or super enlarged, so I still saw the world in its shape and color. I was still squatting on the ground watching something closely.

Three-quarter view of a woman in a brown bra and pink shirt that goes up to her hips.

Can you share a memory from your childhood, something that had a creative impact?

My older sister took me to Donald Judd’s Chinati Foundation in Marfa when I was nine and it opened to the public for the first time. I had never seen anything like it and I was changed. Subsequently, I began to collect industrial waste from construction sites in the neighborhood and to make collages. I knew I wanted to be a designer.

Woman in a brown bra and underwear staring with closed eyes surrounded by shoes.

How did your goal of designing shoes become?

When I was a fiber student at the Art Institute of Chicago school, artist Nick Cave was the chair of the fashion department and he convinced me to move. There I made shoes from scratch and fell in love with the shoe’s scale and its ability to be sculptural while having to be very functional.

What has been your favorite design job, and can you tell us a little more about it?

I really enjoyed designing shoes for Sies Marjan. It took me out of my minimalist comfort zone to immerse myself in color schemes and irreverent psychedelic curves. Now at ECCO, I love to learn and incorporate innovative comfort technology.

Can you share a sketch or photograph (or two, or three) of your favorite creations?

Images of pink, green and brown shoes with sketches next to them.

What shoes did you like to wear as a child?

It was frost all the time. Then dragon-embroidered mary janes and cream Converse with scribbles of orchestral friends all over the place.

You are a classically trained cellist. What was your introduction to music?

My father played the double bass in Oberlin in the 60s and my older brother followed suit. Every morning we would load up my brother’s bass in the middle of our tiny VW bug and all crash sideways on our way to school.

Three-quarter view of a woman in a blue bra holding a large cello.
Why the cello? Do you play other instruments?

My older sister played the cello and I admired her and got a mini three-quarter size. No, but my friend Michael bought me a mic for my cello when I was in college and I started playing in bands and recording a bit, so the cello kinda turned into something. ‘a classic analog instrument in something electric and rawer.

What attracted you about music and / or sound?

I have the same feeling when I pick up my cello that I do it with whatever is really creative for myself – the outside world is fading a bit and I feel present and calm.

You’ve created a Spotify playlist for us. Can you present the mixture?

Just a few cool tunes for the summer, from dub to folk.

How do you stay creative and / or express your creativity during this time?

In my garden! I try my hand at urban gardening, playing with colors and textures through the plants and pots and the crushed blackberries of our neighbor’s tree.

What silver liners do you see, if any, right now?

It was a super baby bubble.

Photo of a woman in green underwear and rear view of a baby next to her.

What have you been wearing since March?

While everyone lived in pajama pants, I was obsessed with denim because my pregnancy starved me for a while. At the top, a tank shape and at the bottom of the Adidas pool slides.

Describe your style in three words?

Lounge, sober, 90s

Can you tell us about some of your muses over the years?

In high school, it started with the actresses of the French new wave, then Jane Fonda in Klute, the friends of the Rolling Stones and Sissy Spacek. And Willie Nelson, always Willie Nelson.

Can you describe the outfit in which you feel best? Can you tell us why it makes you feel so good?

I have a ’90s floral tunic and pants set that I bought at the Rose Bowl around the time I met Gabriel. It’s light and fluid and I feel free. I can feel the Californian sun and the thrill of new love when I wear it.

What’s the last thing you bought that gave you real pleasure? Freshly landed oysters from the boat.

Favorite decade? 1970s

Hidden talent ? Impossibility of closing things: cupboards, jars, toothpaste etc.

What have you liked for a long time? My mother

What is something you would like to learn? All the constellations.

Can you share a favorite quote, lyrics or line from a book or song that has left its mark on you?
Forget about your perfect offer
There is a crack in everything
This is how the light enters
-Leonard Cohen

What do you think is overrated? Underestimated?
Surfait: Pancakes
Underrated: waffles

Can you tell us a joke?
Q: How does a farmer mend his pants?
A: Cabbage patches!

Please fill in the blank? – Beauty is … wandering

Thanks Emilie!

Follow Emily @emilymadd

Listen to his playlist.

All photographs by Gabriel Hernandez @islandneartahiti

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