AriZona 20 Years: Brian Atwood

Published July 10, 2012

MIGUEL ENAMORADO: How did you get in to shoe design?   BRIAN ATWOOD: Some of my first sketches as a kid were of shoes . When I was designing ready to wear for Versace,  one day I was asked to do some accessories and shoes and it was a good first go and from there on. My passion has remained creating glamorous sexy shoes.  ENAMORADO: You opened Brian Atwood after spending nine years at Versace. What did you learn from that brand? Anything about prints?   ATWOOD: I learned never to hold back and to be true to your design aesthetic. Gianni would never compromise and his “more is more” mentality has carried on with my own company and designs. Bold prints and mixing them doesn’t scare me—clients often tell me they like that element of my designs.  ENAMORADO: Can you describe your mood board this season?   ATWOOD: Disco; lots of sexy silhouettes that you might seen in studio 54. There is something so indulgent about that time and how everyone appreciated dressing up, being sexy, and being noticed.

ENAMORADO: What do you look for in the material you use? Have you gone anywhere crazy to source them? What’s the weirdest material you’ve ever used?

ATWOOD: The materials must always be luxurious. Slipping into a shoe, a woman should immediately go to a state of mind that conjures glamour the moment they see and feel the crocodile, stingray or snakeskins, which I often use. Craziest? Raffia that was brightly covered and frayed on a sandal called Mojito.  ENAMORADO: What’s the difference between your Brian Atwood line and your contemporary line, B Brian Atwood? Are they for they same person?   ATWOOD: Lots of women wear both BA and B. They are like half sisters who are best of friends; they share the same inherent DNA. Brian Atwood is more red carpet ,and B BA is more downtown.  ENAMORADO: How did winning the CFDA award change things for you?   ATWOOD: It validated among my contemporaries that I was making a mark in the design industry. It was nice to have those who I respect the most give me that acknowledgement.  ENAMORADO: You were a model—how has this impacted your design career? Did you ever have to wear uncomfortable shoes?  ATWOOD: Modeling is what brought me to Milan, where I ultimately began working for Versace. Of course I was put in some uncomfortable shoes, but I also had to wear some hideous clothes. Its part of the job.

ENAMORADO:  What is one thing that you wish you had known before you embarked on your career?   ATWOOD: Owning your own company is really hard work, but I have no regrets.  ENAMORADO: What’s the best advice you ever got?  ATWOOD: To spend as much time as possible with those you love.  ENAMORADO: One adjective frequently used to describe your shoes is “sexy”­—what is sexy to you?  ATWOOD: People who are sexy have confidence. You can be gorgeous and lack confidence, and therefore not be sexy. It’s all in an attitude.

ENAMORADO: Where are you based and how does the city you live in inspire you?

ATWOOD: Milan and NYC. Milan breeds fashion; I could not ever be with out my time in Italy. NYC speaks for itself…

ENAMORADO: Where were you 20 years ago? Where would you like to be 20 years from now?   ATWOOD: In 1992, I was in NYC, studying at FIT and working as a bartender. In 20 years I will still be working, and intend to grow Brian Atwood into a global brand. We are planning to launch many new categories like designer, ready to wear, and men’s. My first store is opening on Madison Ave this upcoming NY fashion week, and it’s planned to have boutiques around the world. Hopefully In 2032, I will be able to spend more time in Capri.

ENAMORADO: Why did you choose this particular can as your favorite? Tell us about its color, images, texture, and techniques?   ATWOOD: The Burrito Machine—it has the most original, detailed design that exudes shelf appeal. The overall design is bright and graphic; there is great balance of color and proportion that is pleasing to the eye. The fruit have serious attitude! The lime and cherry are cool and seem like they would be fun to invite to a party.

ENAMORADO:  How did this can respond to your interpretation of the AriZona brand?   ATWOOD: The design is true to the core design esthetic of the brand, and it incorporates the AriZona colors and overall vibe. The imagery is unique and makes you want to pick it up and try it.

ENAMORADO:  Did you evaluate the design submissions in the same way as you would a shoe or item of clothing?   ATWOOD: Yes; it’s about the reaction I had when I saw it—it has attitude and shelf appeal. I think people will be proud to sport a drink with such an eye-catching packaging.

ENAMORADO: Do you think there are fundamental design principles that can be applied to any item?   ATWOOD: Yes. Color, proportion, and originality.

ENAMORADO:  What is your favorite AriZona drink?   ATWOOD: Arnold Palmer.

ENAMORADO: Is there an AriZona packaging (besides the new Cherry Lime Rickey) that inspires you most?   ATWOOD: The graffiti art is very cool. I have a piece of original NYC graffiti art that I love.

ENAMORADO: Do you ever use AriZona as a mixer?   ATWOOD: Yes, the Jack Nicklaus Lemonade is always good with a splash of tequila and soda.

ENAMORADO: If you were to design an AriZona inspired shoe what would it look like and what colors, patterns would you incorporate?  ATWOOD: I love the tribal Aztec motif. I could see that being incorporated in a bright heal with suede color blocking and stingray.

For more from AriZona’s design panel, click here.