Copyright Marlene Kranz 2006

Marlene Kranz
Born 1964 in Germany.

Multi-skilled, European trained, always thrilled by the concept of doing and designing things. Love the outback, came to Australia to live in a country with dinosaurs (crocodiles) and to bring glamour to down under.

Trying to keep a good balance between city and outback as needed for recharging my batteries.

Created "subtle "as the umbrella for all my projects.
Still convinced Australia needs more glamour, so won’t stop doing "subtle" things.

Have fun with the maps!
Viel Spass mit den Karten!
Amusez-vous bien avec les cartes!


Not quite so sure about New York, since the only time I ever spent there (one whole week…) quickly made it into the top five of my personal “Travel Horror” list. Didn’t mind the walking (flew back home with better calf muscles, I believe), but the talking…do remember the constant rain of words in various forms and shapes from nice to nasty, which left me exhausted every night. Spent my days looking for some illusion of a QUIET place – maybe wrong country altogether?

Bought various shoes (of course).

Certainly no shortage of medium healthy food and maximum sized people, which left me with a feeling of utter Europeanness.


Early fascination with London - fashion, punk, language.

Worked for Vivienne Westwood. Happened to find 2 of my "house" Jamaican models I dragged over to Germany for my fashion shows.

Paid enormous amounts for not-so-good food. Got reminded of "Oliver Twist" more often than I needed.

Bought way too many shoes. EVERY time I went there.


Love a nicely aged car…this fabulous specimen lives in Groningen and is part of Bastian’s set-up, the proud owner of a house boat (rustic B+B), a nice cat, some other cars and devices and certainly a wild assortment of sculptures.

Forgot how often I’ve been to Amsterdam or Groningen, as it used to be just a little drive from Germany in my faithful beloved Mercedes Benz. With the assistance of my friend Claudia, I’m happy to report that between the both of us we managed to buy quite a lot of …shoes! (Hers always the odd bit too small…) And CHEESE! Make sure to try the Belgian Chips when strolling around the market in Groningen. Avoid Croatian marmalade.

GERMANY (Marburg)

My historical birthplace - full of left-over bits from various knights and other medieval folk. Finished year 13, tried my luck with the study of Egyptology for one term, got overwhelmed with overall dust and ventured out into "The World" leaving very old castle and other tourist attractions behind. Never looked back. Ever.


Loved Barcelona. Doesn't everyone. Shoes 'til the bulls come home, and then some more. Have this romantic notion about the Spanish zest for life, a feature we Germans so sadly lack. Spent some time on Majorca, painting and exhibiting my monsters. Soaked up the sunshine while trying very hard to avoid fellow Germans and other tourist nightmares. Ended up sitting on top of the hill most of the time, accompanied (again) by travel companion Claudia amongst all my cheerful monsters.


Land of lemons, Italians and amazing traffic encounters. Managed to avoid one out of three when being introduced to FORMINE, a little hamlet nestled in the hills overlooking the Lago Maggiore. Access ONLY via little path snaking through the woods. Ah, you could use the gondola provided for groceries and other option for the dare devils/ lazy drunks. Peaceful, beautiful environment including a house ghost ("The White Lady") and stunningly cold waterfalls...used to go there as part of a creative bunch of people consisting of documentary film makers, painters, cinematographers and the occasional nuisance (they come in almost EVERY group).

Try overlooking the Lago on a smooth, midsummer night (illuminated only by the houses on the other side of the lake) and tell me this isn't simply bellissimo...
(Nice shoes, too.)


Inspiring procession of floats meandering through Valletta - loved the dragons (of course). Jumped onto charming old bright yellow buses to get to Marsaxlokk - couldn't POSSIBLY resist any location with a name like that! Found matching place with sleepy dogs, some little cafe and ended up with choice of watching local fishermen or respectively their underwear drying on mildly old fashioned clotheslines on their boats. Fascinating.

Bought most outrageous fake snakeskin platform boots, very handy on Maltese copper stones…wobbelywhopp!


Typical example of "Kranz" camouflage up in Arnhemland, NT.
Apart from the heat, humidity and gazillons of moskitos, another big draw to return to the Territory regularly is the astonishingly high density of assorted bones and shattered skulls.

Hardly anyone wears shoes, though.


Embraced the color of this part of the world wholeheartedly...and dealt with the smells, too. Tried successfully to avoid major tourist places, favouring the backwaters instead, just sitting somewhere and taking in the avalanche of visual impressions.

It's highly unlikely I will forget the light of one particular early evening somewhere near Sukothai. The softest shades of blues and pinks brushing over the feathery outlines of some tallish grass covering a complete field up to the horizon. Simply impossible to capture on film, but forever in my heart.

Shoe sizes just a joke. And I am not size 11.


Exploring the streets of Shanghai accompanied by newly obtained fluffy toy croc, thus completely abandoning any further attempt to melt in with the locals.

My obsession with shoes started very early in childhood (mum’s shoes), didn’t leave me during my adolescence (punk boots), kept me interested throughout my whole costume/theatre/fashion career (high heels) and eventually led me to become a shoe designer.

Taking my pick from the wide range of leathers, fabrics, rubber and other weird and wonderful materials out there, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting resources I can use for my shoes. Cane toads do provide a small but charmingly structured hide, chicken bones certainly will help to create a rather unusual visual impression, and I am still very pleased with what you can do using doorknobs and similar items non-related to the shoe industry.

As with my fashion range, I do believe in “individual style” as opposed to “trend of the moment”.
Based on substantial experience over the last 20 years in a professional career,
my general approach to design is to create a “timeless” high quality
product, thus combining a maximum of comfort
with an inspirational idea.

In 2003, I added the “Certificate IV Assessment/Workplace Training” to my list of degrees/diplomas thus being able to teach at University/Tafe level. In 2004, I started my own Shoe Workshops, introducing interested students to the art of making shoes. These are held all around Australia.

Being a doer myself, teaching "hands-on" comes naturally to me. To my big surprise, I enjoy the workshops immensely. Over a 4/5 day period (depending on weekends/night classes) the students learn how to make a basic shoe like a sandal/slip-on using a variety of tools and materials.

The workshops are limited to 6-8 people to ensure maximum attention.

In 2005 fellow shoemaker David Scanlon and I created Shoetopia
based in Melbourne. We are in the process of introducing several “follow-up” classes - “The Closed Shoe” and “Theatrical Shoes”.

The workshops are limited to 6-8 people to ensure maximum attention.

David Scanlon is a sculptor and shoemaker primarily. It is his love for shape, form and history that led him into shoemaking. His creative journey has been via Theatrical Costume and Sculpture. Self taught in tailoring and pattern making, he has won National and International awards for his work in Fantasy and Historical Costume. His work led him to making accessories and props, exploring sculpted leather masks and flirting with millinery.

You can make the most magnificent costume in the world, but without the right shoes, it just won’t look right. So David had no choice. He went on to earn high distinctions for his Diploma studies, custom shoe design and construction, and is now expanding and refining the shoe making knowledge he has gained.

David makes footwear by appointment in historical and theatrical styles. He works from his studio and also teaches footwear design & construction in association with Marlene Kranz, combining their creative forces to form Shoetopia. With a love of the old crafts, he is continually exploring the multitude of uses leather has and the old techniques for manipulating his chosen medium.

David’s Custom Footwear Company is called Feng Shoei.

A name which lets him explore both the practical and impractical sides of footwear and sculpture, in various mediums and forms. A name which also allows for a touch of philosophy and meaning behind what he creates.

I trained as a fashion designer in Europe/Germany and worked for Vivienne Westwood, London before launching the label “Kranz”, introducing my own exclusive, high quality, small scale woman’s wear range.

Using only first rate materials, I created a look of timeless style to suit an independent, modern woman with a strong sense of individuality. I love to encourage women of all ages to dress according to their individual body feeling rather than following some short-lived fashion.

Every day is a new challenge with expectations, both privately and professionally. A beautifully crafted garment can transform the day, while adding just that bit of glamour needed to make you feel “special” and equipped to face the world!


Currently, I focus exclusively on “one-offs”.

My first memories are still vivid in my head…gazing out of the window of my parents’ car and experiencing the world fly by. These days, the tempo has slowed down, but I still perceive this world mainly as impressions and pictures.

Everything exists in the presence or the absence of color. An explosion of red can make my day, while any dosage of grey might result in lower sprits. Because I am drawn to detail, my work in photography also reflects that.

In this time of digital reality, we have lost every reference to “visual truth”. My aim is to capture moments as time or mood capsules rather than documenting a reality which hardly exists, anyway. These days, I work both with an “old fashioned” as well as with a digital camera.

Trying to find “just the right fabric” for my fashion range proved to be both adventurous and exhausting. The desire to create my own fabrics grew constantly over the last 10 years, especially when deciding to focus on “one offs” with my exclusive designs.

My interest in quirky patterns and odd combinations never ceased, so the natural step has been to acquire screen printing skills to get my ideas out of my head onto the silks and cottons. Using foil printing (metallic effects) and various other techniques, I experiment with all sorts of different materials.

I take my inspiration from everything I see, for example combining the content of Anatomy books with studies of insects and my own drawings. The results are rather detailed, forming strange new patterns, oddly creating their own organic meaning.

The Dancing Queen
(“subtle” fabrics exclusively on offer).

I’ve always been painting, scribbling, drawing…and I always loved dinosaurs (still do!). In 1997 enjoying a sunny day on a terrace in Italy overlooking the Lago Maggiore, I found myself in the company of Clara, a very lively 4 year old. My vision of this day involved soaking up the sun, enjoying the spectacular view and doing some paintings…preferably in silence! Realizing there wouldn’t be any of that unless I kept Clara happy, I drew a very special creature for her that she could talk to…and the “Kranz Monsters” were born!

Using impressions of my own emotions and situations, I developed the “Creatures of Desire”…very personal and enchanting monsters, despite their horns and fangs and spikes - definitely on the friendly side of things!

Soon, I started to exhibit them, and they made friends with lot’s of people, aged 4 to 400. I’m happy to know many of them found new homes all over the world.

I do paint when traveling, so my preferred medium is acrylic on canvas with additional materials I find, such as salt/sand/lentils/foils/wool/hair/wire/cardboard, achieving a 3D look. Sizes vary from very small to almost very big.

My grandmother’s neighbor worked as an opera singer, providing us with free tickets for various shows at the state theatre. Having seen my first “adult” musical when I was around 7, I knew where I was heading:

Glamour, here I come!
This world needs more glitter, and I’ll be the one to provide it!

(Little did I know then that the majority of work waiting for me included “cheerful” Henrik Ibsen, Friedrich Hebbel or Gerhard Hauptmann…European masters more known to chose “gloom” before “glitter”…)

Starting out as a fashion designer, I soon became involved with the theatre world as a set/costume designer. I took on the role of “Head of Costume Department” (Waldau Theatre, Bremen, Germany) only to realize that I have too many interests to be able to focus solely on theatre. Subsequently, from then on I worked as a freelancer before coming to Australia where I started a new path altogether by becoming a shoe designer.

Marlene Kranz

MOB: 0407 351 968