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Works of Art in Leather

Moreschi The Italian Art of Shoemaking Works of Art in Leather book coverEye candy – works of art in leather. It’s arrived. Thank you Amazon Prime. Welcome to my bookshelf – Moreschi The Italian Art of Shoemaking: Works of Art in Leather, edited by Cristina Morrozi, photographed by Giò Martorana and produced by Rizzoli.  This book traces the heritage of artisan culture & craft in Italian shoe production using the premiere brand, Moreschi as a model. Known for exacting standards and unique style, Moreschi produces every pair of shoes from design stage to retailer on-site. Breathtakingly beautiful for your coffee table. Instructive for the shoe purist.


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Black Patent Crazy

Black Patent go go
Black Patent go go

I am black patent crazy. Over the past year I’ve purchased 4 pairs of black patent boots to add to my collection bringing my total to 5. Why you ask? Black patent is one of the most versatile shoe materials ever. It adds a bit of shine to any daytime outfit and glamor to any evening or special occasion attire. It works well in all weather needing just a quick wipe down with a damp cloth and mild soap if necessary.  Scuffs and scratches can be removed with special purpose cleaners on the market. Over time, it may loose the high shine, but it will maintain an interesting rubbery look. This black patent go go, Cynira at ShoeDazzle is on point at about $39 for VIPs.

True patent leather starts with a fine grain leather that is coated to create a glossy finish. Imitations are poromeric imitation leathers like Dupont’s Corfam. Whether you choose real or imitation you can’t go wrong with this addition to your wardrobe.

Here is an excellent choice for Men:

Converse Men's Black Patent
Converse Men’s Black Patent

As my friend Phil Silverstone says, “Just bought these amazing Converse high top black patent sneaks for an upcoming tux event and then to wear with my white Levi’s in the summer…”



And some for Women:

Black Patent Chelsea
Black Patent Chelsea Vince Camuto $180ish on sale Worn at the Breeder’s Cup
Punk Patent
Punk Patent Penny Loves Kenny $40ish
Black Patent & Perspex Chelsea boot
Black Patent & Perspex Chelsea boot Rachel Zoe $150ish on sale
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Shoe Making 101-the Pump insole

The insole is an extremely important part for the fit of the shoe. Most shoe makers buy the pre-made insole that goes with their chosen last, not Bill. A pump traditionally includes a structural support spanning from the heel through the arch. Most often that structure is provided with a metal insert, but we learned how to do this with fiberglass.


The process begins with an insole component that runs the full length of the shoe with an insole board that spans from the heel to the curve of the sole. These components will eventually be covered. You are viewing the side that will be inside the shoe.




cutting fiberglass
Cutting the fiberglass
prepping for heat
Prepping for heat

Next we cut the fiberglass and prepared it. With our insole tacked to our lasts. This consisted of cutting the fiberglass, connecting it to the insoles with epoxy and adding foil to protect the insole from the heat gun. Restaurant grade foil was stapled onto the insole from the edge of the fiberglass out.




shoe at ther ready
Shoe at the ready
heating fiberglass
Heat applied to activate fiberglass

Our last step was to heat activate the fiberglass to bend it to the insole shape. This took several minutes. When done the insole and lasts were wrapped with elastic and left to cure to hold the shape. Note-several of our fiberglass pieces didn’t take, most likely from a faulty mix of epoxy. In these cases (mine was one) a metal shaft was used for the sake of time. So I have on shoe with the fiberglass shaft and one with the metal.

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The Slingback for Spring

One of my most favorite shoes for spring is the slingback. It’s sexy and ladylike all at the same time. It’s a fabulous transition to sandals. You can get your feet into sandal shape gradually. Heels are so much easier  than toes to present after a long hard winter.

M&S slingback retro inspiration with square toe, buckle and kitten heel
M&S slingback retro inspiration with square toe, buckle and kitten heel
M&S slingback from the early 2000's still going strong
M&S slingback from the early 2000’s still going strong

These are on of my most favorite and versatile pairs of slingbacks. I purchased them from M&S in London in the early noughties and have had the lifts replaced several times. They are retro and ladylike with the square-toe and buckle, as well as practical with the kitten heel. They work with slacks and a skirt or dress. They are a fantastic show for travel.

Fluevog slingback with max coverage
Fluevog slingback with max coverage
Fluevog distressed suede slingback
Fluevog distressed suede slingback

Next up a wonderful pair of Fluevogs – I got these in Boston several years ago and they do not disappoint. I love the color and texture (soft suede). They are pre-distressed so not to worry if they get kicked about a bit. They are wonderful transitional shoes with maximum coverage while working on your spring reveal. Again a good pairing with trousers and dresses. One of my favorite outfits is these shoes with a turquoise dress. The orange and blue are complementary colors and when combined they make quite a statement. These are a bit less practical with the heel height, but the heel is sturdy and there is a bit of a platform so they are not as high as one might expect.

fluevog slingbacks
Oxford & slingback all in one.

You’ve seen these before, but I couldn’t resist showing them again. They are an excellent 3rd pair to round out my slingback collection. They are still going strong on trend at 3 or 4 years old. Oxford, slingback and metallic all in one and quite practical too with the Fluevog take on the kitten heel. As you can see, dress them up or down, slacks or skirts and dresses. Another great investment.

So treat your heels to some foot cream each night and a pumice in your bath or shower each day and enjoy Slingback Season.


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The Oxford, Shoes of Prey and Mass Customization

April showers bring May flowers and in my part of the world the weather can fluctuate from Summer hot to Winter cool with all weathers in between. I plan my outfits around my shoes and most often I start with boots or sandals, but this time of year is one of two brief moments (spring and fall) when I consider the “pump”.

For my purposes, I’ll define the pump as a closed-toe, heeled shoe. This year one of the hottest trends for women is the Oxford, an integral part of any complete shoe wardrobe. Incredibly versatile, they work well with dress, work or casual wear.

My design Oxford – Shoes of Prey

Last year I designed my own version of an Oxford using the online  site, Shoes of Prey. I combined a deep charcoal grey and silver leather with a light blue and silver fishskin option to create these beauties. They are so me- all about texture and shine, a neutral with a kick. These are real conversation starters!

Shoes of Prey offers an online option and they have recently launched a “Design Lab” program in select Nordstrom stores in the US and David Jones and Westfield in Australia. The online process is easy. You choose your style and off you go. You can choose from designs others have made, or go through a selection process to make your very own, personalized style. Options included styles, leathers and heel heights. Shoes are made to your size, half sizes included. They are guaranteed in your hot little hands within 5 weeks AND you can return or re-make until you are satisfied! This shoe cost me $199. Quite reasonable for a personalized design with a guaranteed fit. Oh and by the way, they are comfortable.

Shoes of Prey is a mass customization model out of Sydney Australia. They launched in 2009 and with the recent partnership with Nordstrom, I see a bright future.  I’m glad to see it working. The RoxAnneLava label is based on a similar model. I look forward to a similar success, albeit on a smaller scale.