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It’s no secret that we are complete shoe girls, and rarely come across a shoe we don’t like. So when we found out that shoe designer Tess Harriss had relocated from the U.K. to Houston we had to get some time with her to talk what else…SHOES!

If you are not familiar with Tess Harriss Designs here’s a little tidbit…

  • Internationally acclaimed custom-made shoes and accessories.
  • The shoes are made with fun textiles like the highest quality vintage and antique lace, exquisite trims and Swarovski crystal embellishments.
  • Harriss loves to add special touches to her client’s shoes for their big day.

Here are 5 questions for Tess Harriss…

1) So Tess, what brings you to the Lone Star state?

A) When we began our business in 2012, we were located in the United Kingdom and noticed almost immediately that our largest customer base was in the U.S. It was also very noticeable that there was an unusually large number of women in the state of Texas placing orders with us.  After a year or so we started telling ourselves that it might be smart to relocate to Texas.  We used to tell our friends and family in England “For some reason they really seem to like us in Texas.”

Houston was the first city in Texas we looked at because I have a sister who has lived here for several years and she was already loving it here. When we came over to have a look at Houston, we couldn’t believe how beautiful, bright, spacious and warm it was. There is an exciting vibe in this city and a love of fashion and the arts. It just felt like a perfect fit for us.

2) Tell our readers a little bit about you as a shoe designer and your design aesthetic?

A) My business developed from a love of textiles and fashion history.  I started out designing clothing and accessories using repurposed vintage linens, embroidered tea towels and table linens from the 1950’s along with men’s dress shirts, antique lace wedding veils, etc. While living in England, I had an opportunity to source wonderful antique and vintage lace and trims from flea markets in Paris and Nottingham. I also acquired quite a nice collection of handmade Victorian Belgium lace while living in Europe. This treasured collection of materials is the foundation of the designs in my wedding shoe collection.

The one thing that we are most proud of is our ability to offer a completely customized and personalized design. We invite our client to send us something personal and meaningful to them to incorporate into the design.  We also have a unique digital imaging process that enables us to print images and messages onto shoes, which makes them even more special.

3) Can you walk us through your process of designing a custom shoe for a client?

A) When someone contacts us for a custom design, we tell them to have a look at our website and think of the designs there as a starting point. They may see several items that appeal to them and they can tell us exactly how they would like to alter the design to suit their taste and needs. For example, they might say, “I love this design, but would prefer a lower heel.  I wish it had a closed toe instead of peep toes.  If it were pale blue instead of ivory, I’d like it better.  If you would print my daughter’s name and birthdate on the back of the heel in a romantic font, it would be perfect and I’d love to send you a piece of lace from my grandmother’s wedding veil to be used in the design somewhere.” This is the sort of thing we love because we feel there is no other designer who is offering all of these possibilities.  Also we really get to know and love our clients through this process and bonding with them on a personal level makes us all the more determined to create the perfect, one-of-a-kind design they will treasure forever. 

4) What are some of your favorite fashions trends for 2015 and how will we see them reflected in your designs this year?

A) At the moment we are heavily into the bridal season, so we are very focused on bridal trends.  There seems to be more and more brides leaning towards adding color to their wedding ensemble.  We are seeing so many more requests for blush, champagne and baby blue designs. You might also be surprised by the number of brides who are wearing our brightly colored digital imaging designs in themes like Alice in Wonderland, Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz. We love seeing brides feel comfortable about bringing in that bit of whimsicalness and fun to their wedding day. In many cases, they are pairing these shoes and bags with traditional ivory or white gowns.

5) Who are your favorite shoe designers and why?

A) I consistently like what Christian Louboutin comes up with season after season. He is fearless in his combinations of materials, colors and silhouettes.  

For more information or to place and order for your own Tess Harriss designer shoes visit the website: www.tessharrissdesigns.com.

Felice "Swanky Girl" Sloan

Felice is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food, beauty, and fashion.

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