A Quick Chat with Shoe Designer Aminah Abdul Jillil

Fustany Team
12/21/14, 12:00 AM

Aminah Abdul Jillil, a shoe designer, who kick-started her career in Los Angeles, with a very compelling story behind her. Starting out as a professional dancer, performing with some of the biggest names, including Britney Spears and Janet Jackson, Aminah Abdul Jillil indeed had an encounter with fame before she branched out from the music industry into the fashion world. In fact, the music industry granted her quite the success with her first ever shoe collection, as Rihanna chose to wear one of her designs in "Where Have You Been" music video. We had a quick chat with shoe designer, Aminah Abdul Jillil, to know how her passion to art affects her, and how her most iconic design, the bow pumps have come to life. Read along...

From a professional dancer to a shoe designer... Tell us how did this interesting shift happen.

The art world is quite vast, be it the performing art world, fashion, music, etc. and as a dancer/performer, they all kind of inter-mingle. We're constantly exposed to costumes, makeup, fashion, and the creative process of others. It's sort of our jobs as performers to bring to life the creative vision of the director, choreographer, etc. 

So, I've been exposed to the creative world and process since I was a child. It's a huge part of me and my life.

I loved DIY projects and I guess that's kind of how I got started. While still performing and working as a dancer, in between jobs I enrolled in a fashion course at the local college that included illustration, sewing, color analysis, etc. Years later, I decided to launch my brand while performing on a world tour, it was crazy trying to do both, so last year I dedicated my full life to my brand to see what I could do with it, to see where I could take it, and I love it! It's a dream come true.

Tell us about your first shoe design.

The first shoe that I designed was actually a sandal. It had a huge buckle strap around the ankle. I'd gotten my inspiration from a belt that I saw, and decided to make a pair of sandals out of it. Actually, I bought the belt and cut it up to make that pair of sandals.

How did you get inspired to design the infamous Aminah Abdul Jillil bow pumps?

The Aminah Abdul Jillil bow pumps were actually the bow sandals first. My husband bought me a purse for my birthday one year, which had a huge leather bow detail that I absolutely fell in love with! So I'd mostly gotten my inspiration from that purse and made a pair of sandals with black leather bows around the ankles.

Did being a professional dancer help you in designing shoes that are more comfortable?

I'm not sure if dancing had anything to do with the fit of my shoes. My comfort level of course has a huge part in the process, but unfortunately what works for one does not work for all. However, style, comfort, and quality are all very important to me.

Give us a tip to survive wearing heels all night.

I do not have such a tip, and if it exists please let me know when you find it! I used to have to perform two shows a night in heels...running, jumping doing gymnastics; the whole nine yards!

Is there anyone you’d love to see in your shoes?

Sarah Jessica Parker. Last year I performed on an episode of the television series Glee, that she guest starred in. She came to rehearsals in these crystal embellished Manolo's and everybody died! Shoes look like little candy drops on her feet and I would be SO honored.

A pair of shoes you'd never ever wear...

Shoes that are too small.

What does your winter shopping wish list include?

I have been eyeing the Isabel Marant Royston boot. I just LOVE it!

Share with us the best advice you've ever received.

The best advice I've ever received is to work hard!

What's next for you?

I don't know... I just hope to be able to produce good work no matter what I'm doing. Designing, dancing, etc.


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