My List | 24 Hours With Brian Atwood

BY Harper's Bazaar Arabia / May 30 2016 / 21:42 PM

Fresh from his visit to Dubai, here's the American shoe designer's life by the numbers

My List | 24 Hours With Brian Atwood



7:00 A.M. I only need about five hours’ sleep a night. I have an in-built alarm clock and usually wake up when the sun is up. I always keep my windows open. It’s good for your skin to sleep in a cold room. And I love cold bed sheets; mine are by Loretta Caponi. I also drink a lot of water before bed and take magnesium capsules which help your body, especially if you’ve been out the night before. I take a lot of supplements – probably about 15 a day. The first thing I do is check Instagram and Snapchat. Because I don’t drink coffee it’s like my caffeine hit. I probably post about five times a day, but when you start adding faces and things to your Snapchat videos, it’s easy to become obsessed. I’ll put on Hotline Bling by Drake to help get me up. Sunday is my lie-in day, when I sit back and watch TV. 8:00 A.M. I usually see my trainer for an hour and a half six days a week – cycling, weightlifting, calisthenics and boxing. I have a gym in my house in Milan and find the sessions release stress and I love how I feel afterwards. It only takes me 15 minutes to get ready. I use Oribe shampoo, Kiehl’s body scrub and its in-flight mist spray for that refreshed, beautiful dewy skin everybody loves. I’m big on hair products. I use mousse from R+Co because it makes two-day hair look like freshly blown out hair. And I’m a big flosser, every morning. It’s very important. I’m also a sucker for treatments. In fact, I’m going for a hand and feet one today. Bahama Mama nail bar has a funny name but she is one of the best in Milan. In New York, I go to Pastels. I get dressed in five minutes. I have my go-to outfit, usually Frame jeans and James Perse T-shirts. Pharrell and David Beckham always dress well and Tom Ford is inspirational, very well thought out and beautiful. I collect watches and sunglasses, but as a shoe designer I obviously love shoes. I probably have about 70 pairs, from Gucci printed loafers to sneakers by Common Projects or classic Adidas Stan Smiths to these crocodile shoes in crazy colours by Tom Ford. I made my own turquoise pair last year. I also have an archive of women’s vintage clothing that I started over 15 years ago, from 1950s Dior to 1980s Alaïa. It’s quite the collection and growing. I probably have about 100 pieces of vintage clothing and over 2,000 shoes. I hope to show it all one day. 9:30 A.M. For breakfast, I have fresh orange or grapefruit juice and scrambled egg whites. I have a governess in Italy, Mary, who takes care of me and cooks; but yes, I can make my own scrambled eggs, she just does it better. I’m not a big coffee drinker, but when I do it’s always from Bastianello in Milan, b e c a u s e they don’t burn the coffee. I’ll click on CNN to see what’s going on, as it’s important to be informed, or on a Thursday, I go to to look at what vintage fashion pieces they’ve put up.

Brian Atwood's 'Oriana' pump, Dhs4,170, available exclusively at Level Shoes

11:00 A.M. My commute is really easy; in Milan my office is one step outside my apartment in Città Studi! It’s controlled chaos. I love books so my office is like my personal library and I’m surrounded by about 1,000, as well as little sketch books from Muji. People are overwhelmed by it but I know where everything is. I don’t think there’s a creative person that has a clean space. Late at night, when I’ve sent everyone home, I’ll have a good browse. I look through books, photocopy images, put idea books together with fabrics that aren’t being used this season but I’ll revisit three seasons later. It’s a cycle of inspiration. I always have candles burning and flowers, like peonies when they’re in season from Holland. I love dramatic flowers and I love anything purple. I just got back to Milan today so my house doesn’t have any flowers – I need to get flowers. If it’s a chilled day, we’ll listen to Brazilian music or it’s Rihanna, Justin Bieber or hip hop if I’m in the mood. I get around 200 emails a day and try to respond as soon as I get them. I’m always checking my phone; we’re so addicted now that it’s crazy to think we ever lived without them. I travel a lot, always with my Goyard luggage. It seems I collect it – I didn’t realise I had so many pieces, until I just looked! I’m in Milan now, and just back from Dubai for an event with Level Shoe District. I take about six flights a month. My air miles are looking really good. I love my Skyward points as Emirates is my favourite airline. 12:00 P.M. We do most of our design meetings before lunch. Since I started in 2001, I’ve probably designed about 3,000 pairs of shoes. What’s the secret to women looking good in heels? It’s about knowing what heel height you can walk in. There’s nothing worse than seeing a woman in pain. Practice makes perfect. A lot of celebrities wear my shoes, like Jennifer Lopez and Rihanna. It’s always fun to see what they choose. I think my favourite moment was when Cameron Diaz wore a pair of my silver shoes to the Oscars in 2007. She was in a Valentino dress that was cocktail length – long at the back and short at the front, so it really showcased the shoes, and I was like ‘Finally!’ because most women wear full-length gowns. I just want to cut everything to mini. It’s nice when someone mixes it up, because shoes do make the outfit.

Devoted followers of Brian Atwood's designs, from left: Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Emily Ratajkowski, Nicole Kidman, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner, Cameron Diaz

2:00 P.M. I usually eat lunch at home when I’m in Milan. Mary will cook a wonderful, healthy lunch. Today I had salmon with Basmati rice with asparagus and salad. I like to eat about five times a day, so I’ll snack on an apple, almonds or crisps – I love them. I’ll eat anything but I’m a big chocolate lover... There’s nothing quite like a good chocolate chip cookie. If it’s something sweet, get it away from me or I’ll eat the whole thing. I like the idea of a siesta at lunch, but they make me groggy, though if I have time, I might run out for some kind of crazy facial. 8:00 P.M. Sometimes I’ll go for an aperitivo if I’m in Milan, otherwise I like to go to a museum after work in New York, something like the Frick or MoMA. Nothing can beat the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the Met. But usually it’s dinner with friends at somewhere like Da Giacomo in Milan, which does amazing fish, or just home to decompress. I get burnt out if I go to too many events, so I’m selective; I’d rather be with friends or loved ones. It sounds lame, but my partner and I will usually just take a stroll around the neighbourhood with Chance, our 15-year-old golden labrador, and sit in a cafe or order in sushi. We love Netflix. You could fill your day with how many TV shows there are, it’s insane. We watch Homeland, Empire or Shark Tank, because it’s about entrepreneurs finding new business opportunities, which is quite fun. 1:00 A.M. I go to bed pretty late. I usually read on my phone or do something mindless that slowly puts me to sleep, like looking on Before bed, I always put on a night-time serum for extra hydration and use my Yoga Toes toe stretchers for about 45 minutes. They’re the best gift you could give someone! - As told to Emily Baxter