The flamboyant world renowned designer was born into an artistic family in Florence, Italy, in 1940. He attended the local Art Institute where he was particularly interested and concentrated on textile print. As a student he produced a series of flower prints on knit which caught the attention of some major Italian hosiery factories. Cavalli invented and patented a revolutionary printing procedure on leather and began creating patchworks of different materials.
His flamboyant style caught on very quickly and is now synonymous with glamour, rock and animal prints. The designer who himself enjoys a lavish over the top lifestyle translates this to his designs. Glitz, gold, colour, wild animal prints and extreme glamour are his hallmarks. Well loved by the rich and famous his designs appear on red carpets thoughout the world and are worn by the likes of Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Lopez and Catherine Zeta Jones and musicians Shakira and Christina Aguilera.
In 1972 in St Tropez, the exclusive French riviera resort and haunt of the rich and glamourous, he opened his first boutique selling his signature patchworks of different materials. The French film star Brigitte Bardot was one of the first celebrities to wear his designs and the jet setters of the time quickly followed. Feathered evening clothes, rhinestone encrusted jeans and python pants were all the rage. Cavalli lost favour in the 1980s when a more minimalist look began to dominate the catwalks and he has been heavily criticised for his use of animal skins and fur.
Cavalli made a comeback in the early 1990s and launched a Jeans line that was extremely successful. He began showing at the Milan Fashion Week and soon his racy dresses and signature animal prints were a hit with a whole new generation of celebrities. His numerous collections now include Just Cavalli, the Angels and Devils childrenswear range, Roberto Cavalli Casa his houseware collection and an extensive collection of accessories ranging from perfume to vodka!.
Married to Eva Duringer a former Miss Universe runner up, they have two children and live in a hillside villa on the outskirts of Florence, Cavalli also has two children from his first marriage. The couples interests outside fashion include a restauraunt in Milan, a chocolate factory and spending the summer entertaining numerous famous friends on their yacht.
The foot and shoe have since Egyptian times (3500 BC) been recognised as powerful symbols of fertility and life. During Egyptian times, the lower classes used to walk around barefoot but the higher classes wore leather sandals that were oft times laced together in an imitation of the Ankh symbol which is the symbol for life.
High heels are thought to have come into existence for butchers who needed to be raised above the blood on the floor, and high heels are known to have existed in ancient Greece and Rome in the form of high cork or wood soles which were worn by actors to indicate their social status and the status of their character whilst on stage. Female prostitutes of the era were readily recognised by their high heels.
In the 1400s platform shoes called ‘chopines’ were popular throughout Europe. Venetian courtesans made them a fashion statement wearing them anywhere from 7 inches to 30 inches high! This of course makes walking sound ridiculously difficult, and they would need canes or even servants to help them mobilise. These shoes were obviously fraught with contradiction, hinting at sexuality, power and sophistication, yet inhibiting movement and making the wearer look as if she was constantly in danger of toppling over. Indeed it has been speculated that high heels were invented by men to prevent their women from running away from them!
High heels were ‘formally’ invented for Catherine de Medici, who was the fiancee of the Duke of Orleans who later became the King of France. She was petite in stature (just under 5 foot) and was insecure in her looks due to competition from the Dukes mistress, who was significantly taller than she. She therefore took to wearing 2 inch heels to give her height and an attractive sway. Heels quickly took off and were soon worn by wealthy, coining the term ‘well-heeled’ to mean someone who is privileged.
In 1791 Napoleon banished high heels as a mark of equality yet Marie Antoinette ignored the rules by deciding to be executed wearing 2 inch heels! They became popular again in the 1860s when Victorians began associating the instep arch of a high heel shoe with the curves of a woman, and aristocracy, whereas feet with no instep, such as the feet of African Americans was thought to be the ‘lowest type of foot.’
Today we don’t hold these kind of racist beliefs, but we do love the high heel just as much, if not more.
Sex and the City seems to have liberated us to an extent, in that we can admit how much we really do love high heels. And there are reasons for this – yes, it has been analysed to death. Freud took the shoe to be a symbol of the vagina, with the heeled shoe effectively becoming a vagina with penis – empowerment indeed! The high heel also tilts the angle of the buttocks, making the body look more youthful, and therefore more fertile – and the height given alters the foot, leg, thigh, pelvis and breasts. It has been concluded that they are the most potent aphrodisiac ever invented!
The legendary shoe designer, made even more famous by Sex and the City, Manolo Blahnik was born and raised on a banana plantation in Santa Cruz de la Palma in the Canary Islands to a Czech father and Spanish mother. You would be right in wondering how one learnt so much about designing shoes in the Canary Islands but it was actually Blahnik’s mother who inspired him – she loved shoes so much so that she taught herself how to make her own designs.
Blahnik’s parents wanted him to grow up to become a diplomat and enrolled him to study politics and law at university in Geneva, but he left after one term and switched to architecture and literature. He left for Paris in 1965 to study art and worked at a vintage clothes store called Go. After a few years there, he moved to London where he got a job as a PR and buyer for Joan Burstein who at the time owned the Feathers boutique – she now owns Browns.
Blahnik decided that his next move would be to become a set designer and he took a portfolio of drawings to New York in 1971 with the aim of achieving this. It was there that he was introduced to Diana Vreeland, the editor of Vogue who told Blahnik to ‘do things. Do accessories. Do shoes.’ Back in London that is exactly what he started to do – he designed an elaborate pair of shoes for Ossie Clark but they were ‘wobbly’ and he resolved to hone his craft and find a skilled manufacturer.
He bought a shoe shop called Zapata (with borrowed money), a boutique on Old Church street in Chelsea for whom he had already been designing shoes and the shop attracted all sorts of glamorous celebrities – Lauren Bacall was even a customer, and British Vogue warned people to ‘employ a sense of humour’ if purchasing his shoes. He broke into the US by designing a collection for Bloomingdales in 1978, which enabled him to open his first US store on Madison Avenue, New York the following year.
In 1974 Blahnik became the first man to appear on the cover of British Vogue, however it wasn’t until the 1980s that his US business really took off – he brought in George Malkemus, a young copywriter to run it, leaving him free to run the European business.
All of Blahniks creations have his signature style and Anna Wintour the editor of Vogue coined the abbreviation ‘Manolos’ of which Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista bought 6 pairs between them in 1991 – for ‘racing between shows’.
In the same year Marge wore a pair in The Simpsons. ‘Luck’ would have it that Princess Diana was wearing Manolos for a party in the Serpentine Gallery on the same night as Prince Charles admitted his affair with Camila Parker Bowles.
All of these events helped catapult Blahnik into the limelight but most people will still admit that it wasn’t until the shoe obsessed Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City came along that we learned about Manolos!
One of the worlds best known contemporary fashion designers, Marc Jacobs was born into a Jewish family in New York, U.S.A. in 1963. He lived with his grandmother for a time as a teenager and credits her with being “the biggest influence in life”.
As a fifteen year old he worked in the stockroom for trendy boutique Charivari and it was here he was allowed to design a range of knitwear for the store. He attended the New York High School of Art and Design and won a host of prestigious awards graduating in 1981. Jacobs continued his studies at Parsons School of Design where he won some of the schools highest honours including Design Student of the Year.
In 1986 backed by Onward Kashiyama USA Inc. Jacobs designed his first collection bearing the Marc Jacobs label, the following year he became the youngest ever designer to be awarded the fashion industries highest accolade, The Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent.
Jacobs famous “Grunge” collection for Perry Ellis in 1993 brought him to the forefront of the fashion industry, loved by the critics, but disliked by the company, it led to Jacobs leaving. The designer has not been afraid of bucking the trend in fashion design, producing contemporary clothes that people want to wear. His ad campaigns have featured the rich and famous such as Victoria Beckham, Winona Ryder and Charlotte Rampling to name just a few. Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista have modelled his clothes for free. In 1994 he produced his first full menswear collection.
Louis Vuitton appointed Jacobs as their Creative Director in 1997 when he created their first ready-to-wear line, he also works on their shoes, handbags and luxury accessories and in 1999 was named Accessory Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
The Marc Jacobs Home Collection was launched in 2003 and began as a limited line of luxury accessories that has since grown to include crystal, silver, and cashmere pillows and is sold exclusively at Jacobs boutique shops. Marc Jacobs now has stores across the world including Paris, London, Madrid, New York, San Francisco, Boston USA and numerous outlets across Japan, China and the Middle East. In recent years he has introduced a range of perfumes and watches which have been extremely successful.
In 2007 Jacobs was named in ‘OUT’ magazines list of the 50 Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America and controversially in 2009 produced a t shirt demanding the legalization of gay marriage. In 2010 he was included in Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
One of the most famous and prestigious shoe designers in the world, Louboutin was born in 1963 and brought up in Paris. His father was a carpenter and somewhat surprisingly he has said his mother and four sisters were not fans of high heels.
Louboutin is credited with re-inventing the stiletto and bringing it back into fashion. In 1992 he started to give his designs the iconic Red Sole, now so well known, after painting red nail polish on a pair of shoes he felt “lacked energy”.
Kate Moss, Sarah Jessica Parker and Victoria Beckham have all worn his designs in fact there are very few celebs or well known ladies who don’t own a pair of his glamourous shoes and they have even featured in the first ‘Sex @ The City’ film, being the object of desire for the shoe obsessed heroine Carrie Bradshaw. Oprah Winfrey devoted a whole show to her love affair with his designs, however the designer himself said he was ill and could not appear.
Louboutin’s shoes have appeared on the catwalk for fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen, John Paul Gaultier and Lanvin. In a partnership with toy manufacturers Mattel he has designed shoes for ‘Barbie’ after redesigning her ankle which he thought was not ‘shapely’ enough.
His luxury shoes range from a simple court shoe at around the 500 dollar mark to designs costing thousands of dollars. He has said he is not really interested in ‘comfortable’ shoes and his designs are more for men than women!
Away from the fashion industry Louboutin’s interests include landscaping, trapeze [he keeps one at home] and occasionally dancing and he has appeared in a tap dancing sequence in a video for an internet fashion company.
Recently Louboutin has sued two rival shoe designers, Yves Saint Laurent for alleged trademark infringement of his Red Sole which has been trademarked since 2008. Y.S.L. have been selling their shoes in Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman alongside Louboutin’s designs and he is claiming damages of at least $1 million and also the Brazilian label Carmen Steffens who produce a number of coloured sole designs and claim they were selling them long before Louboutin’s trademark was in place.
The exclusive shoe maker and fashion designer was born in Penang, Malaysia. He came from a family of shoemakers and Jimmy made his first pair of shoes at the tender age of eleven. Choo graduated from Cordwainers Technical College [now part of London College of Fashion] in Hackney, London in 1983. During this time he has said he worked part time in restaurants and as a cleaner in a shoe factory to finance his education.
In 1986 he rented a unit in an old ex hospital building in Hackney as a workshop and began producing his hand made shoes, selling to ultra fasionable women who could afford his designs. His craftmanship and design soon attracted the attention of the fashion world and in 1988 his shoes were featured in a record eight pages of Vogue magazine giving him international exposure and his client list exploded to epic proportions. The late Diana, Princess of Wales was extremely fond of his designs as were numerous celebs including Beyonce, which certainly helped to boost their popularity.
Choo co-founded Jimmy Choo Ltd. in 1996 with Tamara Mellon who was an accessories editor with British Vogue. The new range was manufactured in Italy and sold in high end department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. Having sold his 50% stake of the company in 2001 he has since developed the Jimmy Choo Couture line and the Jimmy Choo Ready To Wear collection and now includes accessories such as handbags, scarves and perfume.
Jimmy Choo has been recognised with a number of awards from his home country of Malaysia and has been awarded an O.B.E. in the U.K. for Services to the Shoe and Fashion industry, an Honorary Doctorate in Art, by De Montfort University Leicester for his contribution to their Footwear Design degree and a fellowship from the University of Arts, London, conferring him with the title Professor.
More recently Choo has founded a shoe making institute in Malaysia and hopes to inspire a new generation of shoe and fashion designers.
What everybody thought would just be a one-season-wonder, has turned out to be a never ending epidemic of Gladiator styled shoes, sandals, boots etc… You name the footwear, someone somewhere has turned it into a gladiator shoe!
Of course, that’s not to say that I don’t love them, but mostly in summer which is why I’ve decided to go trawling through the shops again to find out who’s got a whole new range in stock…
For as little as £12 you could be stepping out in a pretty white pair from Dorothy Perkins, right the way through to the high end designers who are still incorporating the style in their latest collections.
If boots are your thing then rejoice because they’re everywhere this season!! Over-the-knee, lace-up, fringe effect, knee high, name it and it’s on point so what better way to highlight the best the high street and designers have to offer than be giving you a little taster of what’s out there…
Or how about these, pricier offerings…
Don’t forgot that if there’s a specific colour that you’re looking for just put it in our search box!
Some women have an amazing capacity to trot around all day every day in heels that would break the ankles on the rest of us mere mortals. But, occasionally, we do need to grin and bear the pain and suffer for fashion especially if we’ve managed to get our hands on a really fabulous pair of killer heels.
The words comfort and shoe used to mean ugly and boring and most of us wouldn’t usually be caught dead in some of the more “comfortable” ranges available on the high street. Thankfully that has all changed as designers realised that not all of us are capable of tottering around on break neck heels twenty four hours a day and that, because of this, we want to wear fashionable yet comfortable shoes! So if you want to be comfy and fashionably on-point this Winter why not try out some of these bargains for under £20…
If you can stretch your budget a little more then these summery sandals are a big hit…