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LCF Short Courses: Mo Helmi tells us about his experience on Introduction to Footwear Design

ANDERS BIRGER, Shoes and bag from Mo Helmi’s latest collection
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Published date
03 February 2016

At LCF we offer the largest and most in-depth range of fashion short courses in the world – over 165 in fact. They cater for students of all ages and abilities with a passion for the subject and a desire to learn. From introductory courses giving students a taster of the industry, to more in-depth and intense vocational studying, we’ve got it covered.

We recently caught up with Mo Helmi who told us about his experience on the Introduction to Footwear Design short course. Mo, who now runs his own business tells us why he chose LCF, what he enjoyed most about the course, and how it helped him in his career.

Mo Helmi

Footwear designer Mo Helmi. Photo by Anders Birger

Why did you choose LCF’s Introduction to Footwear Design?
I studied fashion design originally before doing a degree in graphic design at LCC, so I was aware of the different colleges of UAL. I didn’t want to commit to a full time degree but wanted to learn the technical aspects of shoe design, so the short courses were a perfect option.

Tell us a bit about your background…
After my degree, I stumbled across an internship at Condé Nast in London and then moved temporarily to Milan, where I worked as a stylist. After 10 years as a stylist I was approached by someone who noticed my flair for styling and asked if I designed too, so I began to sketch shoes and bags. I knew friends in the industry working as buyers for luxury department stores who loved my designs and encouraged me to pursue it.

What did you enjoy most about the Introduction to Footwear Design short course and what did you find most challenging?
I really enjoyed the tutor Fiona Campbell’s teaching style – she was charming, kept us incredibly interested and engaged, and she made sure we had a good understanding of the industry as a whole. It was such a help when it came to the process of creating a collection. I remember we were also shown a behind the scenes video of Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton designing their collections from start to finish – it was so inspiring that I’m still trying to find that video to this day. In terms of challenges I would have to say that time was a little challenge, but only because we wanted to learn more from such a great tutor and before we knew it a week had passed and the course had ended.

What advice or tips would you give to prospective students of our Footwear short courses?
Research – know what part of the industry you want to be in and which you feel most passionately for. The beauty of short courses is learning about the industry, without committing to a full time degree and being able to find out whether the industry is actually right for you.

Shoes and bag from Mo Helmi's latest collection

Shoes and bag from Mo Helmi’s latest collection. Photo by Anders Birger.

Tell us a bit about your brands ethos and what are you working on at the moment and plans for the future?
I’ve always loved designing things with a unique element but that remain completely timeless. I have an obsession with luxury and perfection as well as comfort, so I design my shoes with these qualities in mind. I even ask models in Italy to run across the factory floor to test how my shoes feel on.

At the moment my shoes are stocked on my website, several boutiques in Italy, as well as being sold at Level Shoe District in Dubai and Super-In, in China. I have recently received investments to launch and expand to the USA and within the UK. The investments I have received will allow me to hire a team of people so I can work solely on the design aspect.

What inspires you as a designer today?
I’ve always been inspired by graphic art and nature and combining these elements together. I love watching David Attenborough’s nature programmes, and I also love to travel – I gain a lot of inspiration from new places I visit. My creative process always involves me combining my inspiration on a mood board and designing from there.

What designers do you look up to in the Fashion Industry?
Without a doubt Alexander McQueen – he changed the industry a great deal and I was inspired by how he strived to make women feel powerful in his clothes. You can appreciate and tell how he poured his inspirations and feelings into designing, which came from a lot of thought and meaning. I have always been in awe of his work and process of working.

MoHelmi_shoes Photo by Anders Birger.

What qualities do you think a shoe designer needs in today’s market to be successful and stand out?
Patience and perseverance – the shoe market is very competitive and cut throat so you need to be able to handle criticism gracefully. You also need to make sure there is something unique about your brand that clients are buying into – your identity as a brand is very important.

How did the Introduction to Footwear Design short course help your career?
The short course programme helped me to prepare for take off. It helped me to become mentally ready to design, as well as other aspects of the industry. It also helped me to know what real life situations I would come across at the beginning of my journey.