And the winner is…

Heck with the dresses on the red carpet, the shoe design winner is Jimmie Choo. I wish the starlet would choose gowns that show their shoes, but that is generally not the case. Thank heaven for Footwear News’s big reveal. Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Olivia Munn, Isla Fisher and Heidi Klum all sported various sparkly, stiletto sandals with minimal straps.

This year featured the platform Pearl (a rising red carpet star) that gives height, other popular styles – the Molly and the Minnie

The Minnie
the molly


Sealskin Stilettos Oh My!

sealskin pumps
Nicole Camphaug pumps

In keeping with the Inuit tradition of using all of an animal, Nicole Camphaug, an Iqaluit designer, uses sealskin to create shoes with lots of panache and style. Considering a pair of her own worn out boots that she was going to sell, she suddenly got the idea to dress them up with scraps of sealskin. 5 hours later a trend was born. Family and friends asked for their own pair and pretty soon Camphaug was buying pelts.

Sealskin mens shoe
Nicole Camphaug men’s dress shoes


Made by Inuit in Nunavut these babies are popular. Offering Women’s and Men’s styles, Camphaug has had to recruit her husband to help and has even added in some jewelry with Inuit designs.


sealskin bootie
My fave – Camphaug bootie – Fantastic



Even so, at 5 hours of labor per pair, she is still looking for a business model that will lead her to a profitable fashion career. Listen, I’ll help her out. These beauties are to die for. So Anne!

Shoes that Grow

Shoes that Grow is finally taking off. I found this story in one of my favorite  trend reports, Springwise. I receive a weekly email and often find topics for my FashionMatters radio show. This past Sunday they got a great placement on the Today show. This is one that can make all shoe lovers feel good.

Director, Kenton Lee began working on this project while living and working in Kenya in 2007. He observed many children who had shoes that did not fit, or worse, no shoes at all. This lead to contraction of disease and improper foot development. He asked, “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a shoe that would expand as a child grew?”

ShoethatgrowsAnd then he answered. The result is an expandable shoe that will grow 5 sizes and last 5 years. They come in  2 initial sizes, Small for kids 5-9 and Large for kids 10-14. The sole is compressed Rubber. The shoe is made from leather with a series of snaps and a buckle that allow it to grow as the child’s feet grow. It is small and compact, making it easy to pack. 50 pairs of smalls fit in one suitcase and weighs 50 pounds.

There are many ways to get involved. You can buy a pair for $50 and the organization will donate 2 to children in need.  You can fill a duffle, help fundraise, or just donate. This is “practical compassion” at its best. Make a donation in the name of each of your shoe loving friends  this holiday season.

Shoes for Vacation – The rules

I’m taking a hiatus from shoe making journey blog entries and talking about packing shoes for vacation. I’m off for about 2 1/2 weeks shortly and it’s time to make some decisions about which of my lovelies will come with me. It can be hard to make the cut. Here’s my process:

First, I determine how I will likely get around. This trip – lot’s of walking and public trans. Next, I check the weather where I am going. This trip possible showers, every day. Last, what mode of travel I’m taking. This trip is plane and public transport and I will be moving about a bit, so I want to keep my bag relatively light.

All this in mind, I will limit myself to a total of 3 pairs-one I will wear and two I will pack. The two I pack must be light. The one I wear must be easy on/off for the plane and these can be heavier. I will need to walk in all my shoes and they need to be okay in the rain. They also need to be fashionable – my destinations are fashion cities – and they need to work with pants, skirts and dresses, casual and semi-dressy.

flip flops
a MUST for your daily carryall

I should also note that I ALWAYS take a pair of inexpensive flip flops with me and carry them daily in my tote. These are emergency shoes. I use them if I get caught in a torrential downpour, develop blisters, have a shoe break or some other un-forseen problem. I don’t count these it the number of shoes I will take as the weight is negligible. I also make sure they are comfortable before I go. These are my faves this year, Donica from Shoedazzle, $29.90 VIP. I like the look – Grecian, fashionable and metallic. They are all man-made so they won’t be ruined by rain. I’ve worn them alot and had many compliments.

After careful consideration of the many choices in my shoe closet, I have decided on these three:

flatform sneaker
height with comfort

Choice #1: The Flatform Sneaker. I fell in love with this last year in London. I had a very cheap pair from Primark. They got me through a very cold and rainy spell and finally fell apart shortly after I returned home. This year, I got a slightly better pair from Forever21, also  $29.90. They are comfortable to walk in, have a closed toe and just the right amount of edge with the studs. They are also man-made and will not ruin in rain. I tested them on my last trip to Ashland and wear them frequently at home, so I know they will fit the bill.

open-toed bootie wedge
open-toed bootie wedge

Choice #2: The Open-toe Bootie. Next on my list is this Fly of London sandal bootie in Lead. This is a more expensive shoe, somewhere around $129.00. Fly of London is a comfort brand with well made shoes that last forever. I like the open-toed bootie style-just enough sandal while being rugged enough for a lot of walking. They are edgy and stylish and the lead metallic goes with anything. The wedge gives some height and shape to the leg. They are just enough to go a bit on the dressy side. These will not do well in lots of rain, so the flip flops are essential.

flat sandal
flat sandal

Choice #3: The flat sandal. My final choice is this Atelje 71 flat sandal with a sneaker bottom. These too are a bit pricey, over $100, but again they are a well made, stylish and comfortable sandal. I have not had a lot of time to test these and I am a bit worried about the thong, but I am taking them anyway and will bring a small pot of vaseline in my daily tote to put in between my toes if necessary. Again, these will not do well in rain, hence the flip flops.

My last packing rule is to put everything out about 24 hours before I pack and then to go back and remove about a 1/3 of what I have collected. That may mean the Atelje’s stay home. Not because I may not wear them, but rather because I may like to keep the room in the suitcase for a new pair to join the collection;)




My First Pair: 1-Day Sandal Workshop

ankle tie sandals
6 hour sandals!

Last August I was thrilled to take my first shoe-making workshop, a one-day sandal making class offered by Prescott & Mackay in London. I arrived bright and early to the shop and joined 3 other women for the workshop. In 6 hours, I’d have a pair of sandals!

We started with a bit of an overview of the day and the process. We were shown some completed sandals that all in all were a bit disappointing, but I was not going to let that stop me. If making a boring sandal was what I had to do, that is what I would do. After all, I was there to learn how to MAKE the sandal, not DESIGN the sandal.

All components
All the parts about to come together.

We were shown our shoe components and then headed downstairs to the workshop. There we saw some pre-made straps and cords we could use. The straps require some preparation, so that part was completed for us. It would have been too much to do in the 6 hour time frame. There were straps of various widths that could go over the foot, around the heel and up the back. Colors were right up my alley, red, pewter metallic and black.

covered wedges
Half all black and half pewter and black with a zig-zag join. The pewter and black is the surprise inside.

Our first task was to find materials to cover our wedges. There was a big bin of left over leathers and the 4 of us dug through. This was a very interesting part of the process. Three of us took a bit of time and gave each other feedback as we made our choices. I really enjoyed this back and forth as it added a design element to the experience.

Shocking, I know – I settled for a black leather with pewter print. Of course I didn’t need another pair of black sandals, but I knew I’d wear black and pewter sandals and not the brown and ivory that I had also selected. We worked through the process step by step, cutting leather with a scalpel, gluing components, pressing the shoes. There were more design decisions to make along the way.

tack mistake
OOPS – I left the tacks in! My instructor got them out and says I should use it for my lable.

It was a great day and while the shoes are a bit large and I did make a few mistakes. I left the tacks in one of my sandals before pressing them. Luckily Melissa, my instructor, was able to pull them out through the insole. She says I should use the 2 dots as part of my brand.

three sandals
3 Women, 3 Sandals

I am proud of what I made and I wear them. It was also wonderful to see the breadth of shoes from three of the four of us. Each has a different aesthetic and every pair would work in a high end retailer.