Walking A Mile In Brian Atwood's Heels

Long before he was an internationally recognized shoe designer, Brian Atwood was destined for a prosperous career in fashion. Now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he reflects on the deeply personal and multi-dimensional facets of the industry that shot him to fame – and how he believes fashion should adapt to modern standards.

Growing up in Chicago, Atwood taught himself how to sew as a teenager and hosted fashion shows on his family’s front lawn. “I loved seeing the whole process of women getting dressed up in beautiful clothes. I was mesmerized by it,” Atwood said. “My destiny was already set.” 

When he graduated high school, Atwood did a stint at Southern Illinois University before moving to New York City to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology. While he loved his time in New York, Europe always fascinated him. 

“I felt that Europe was still somewhere that was so much more open to creativity and experimentation I wanted to try that out,” Atwood said. 

Upon graduation from FIT, he picked up and moved to Milan where he became a sought-after runway model. “I used modeling as a vehicle to get to Europe and meet the designers that I wanted to work for.” 

After modeling for seven years and making contacts within major fashion houses, his bulked up resume was ready to be delivered at a few fashion offices. Modeling wasn’t Atwood’s end game – and it was time to let the world know. His resumes worked. Versace called him back that day. 

Atwood’s talents engaged everyone at Versace immediately. He worked with Donatella herself on her Versus line and was asked to design a shoe for couture. “I had never designed a shoe or been inside a shoe factory,” Atwood said. The team was thrilled with his work and he soon became the designer for women’s shoes. “That is how I got my start in the shoe industry… it was written in the stars, I’d say.”