It's a given these days that fashion designers are struggling - that is, until you enter the world of shoe maestro Nicholas Kirkwood. It's the middle of Paris fashion week and in the designer's small showroom, three upmarket retailers are vying for the exclusive rights to carry his line in their boutiques. It's a rare sight in these trying times, but it's all in a day's work for the young cobbler. 'It's a game: we make a decision who not to sell to and we know who we'd like to sell to, but we don't aggressively attack people,' he says nonchalantly. 'There are some stores that you just want to be in, and others you can't sell to. That's part of the business. In our first season, we had no stores, but last season we were in about 70.' Welcome to the very successful world of Nicholas Kirkwood. Since the British designer launched his eponymous line in 2005, his vertiginous heels have appeared in hip boutiques all over the world, such as Dover Street Market in London, Jeffrey New York, Tsum in Moscow and On Pedder in Hong Kong. Last year, he was named footwear designer of the year by Footwear News, and won the emerging talent for accessories title at the British Fashion Awards. Also under his belt is the role of design director of accessories at Pollini, where he and fellow Brit Jonathan Saunders have been tasked with relaunching the brand. Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham have been photographed wearing his platforms. 'I remember saying that if she ever wore my shoes, I would give up. Then two weeks later there's a photo of her wearing them in US Elle and The Sun. But, hey, I am still here,' he says, laughing. With so many accolades, you'd think Kirkwood has been in the industry forever, but the 28-year-old is a newbie. It was only in the late 90s that he completed a fine arts foundation course at Central St Martin's, after which he secured an internship with milliner Philip Treacy. A career in shoe design only became a reality when he started working at the designer's boutique between 1999 and 2002. 'Women would bring in their outfits and I would try to find a hat for them. I remember the clothes always being amazing but the shoes were so lame. There were loads of kitten heels, pointy toes, mules, that kind of thing. It was all very Jimmy Choo and just unexciting,' he says. 'For me [shoe design] just happened - I always liked architecture and shoes are very similar in the sense that it's about shape, function, and is made up of different components.' After a stint at Cordwainer's where he learned the basics of shoemaking, he started experimenting with men's shoes, making pairs at home for himself during his spare time. 'I did pointy ones with half platforms for men,' he says. 'This type of platform then ended up in the first women's collection and has definitely helped shape the brand's DNA. You can see this reference in almost all my collections. '[For women] I just wanted to create something that wasn't being done, something that was out of the box. I wanted to make statement shoes. I can do basic styles, but for me it's about the construction, the heel, it has to be interesting.' To call them 'statement shoes' is an understatement. Over the years, Kirkwood has probably challenged every factory in Italy with his complicated geometric forms and sculptural shapes. Preferring to steer clear of fussy decoration and traditional leathers, he develops new or unusual fabrics such as shaved stingray, cobra, laser cut mirrored leather, rubberised leather, buffalo horn and a hybrid of suede and alligator. Heels are often 10cm or higher, and that's not including his ever-present platform. For spring, marbled python and lizard are juxtaposed with transparent rubber and alligator on origami inspired shapes, while pearls form the base of a new platform and Swarovski crystals decorate conical heels. With so much going on, it's no wonder that his shoes are favourites with fashion editors looking for something that doesn't resemble anything else out there. 'I don't want to do boring shoes. In the next year, the collection will expand, but I do only one type - high fashion stuff. I think its important to have an identity - this way I can make each piece interesting rather than making something so commercial which is just easy. 'It's not a fashion shoe in the sense that every season is themed or fits with the trend. It's more about trying to push an identity and build that. So even though you have a pair from a few seasons ago, you can recognise it as one of our shoes, whether it's in the colouration or heel. I like women who have a strong personal style. They are fashion conscious but they make it look easy. They are not clich? they just look really cool,' he says. While Kirkwood is busy designing for his own line - he has plans to add a pre-collection this year - other projects have included designing styles for the catwalk for names such as Phillip Lim, Gareth Pugh, Zac Posen and personal favourite, New York-based label Rodarte, for which he did platforms with chains and electrical wire. Also on the cards is a gig designing accessories for an established French house (rumours point towards Lanvin), although nothing has been confirmed officially. 'When I work on other people's show shoes, I don't think about commercialism. I'll often do something that is impractical and just beautiful. In the beginning, I did shoes for everyone but now I'm glad I don't have to do that any more. 'I want to make even more special pieces, more eccentric pieces. The fashion world isn't going to go on forever, so we may as well plan like it isn't. It's about making more interesting things.' For autumn he is experimenting with a new theme - geology, more specifically pangea and the breaking away of ice caps. The prints resemble land masses that have broken apart, while abstract V shapes appear everywhere. The heels are set to be even higher than those of his spring collection. 'I am trying to make some flats but I haven't got around to it. I like flat or super high - I don't want anything in between. Some people love it and others are just like ...', he stops to mimic a scream, 'but they aren't used to wearing high heels,' he says. 'Maybe one day I will make a business out of pumps, but I would much rather do wild shoes and make a name doing this rather than something everyone else does. If you want a basic pump, why buy my ones when you can buy Givenchy or Louboutin?'