The luxury footwear category seems to be exploding on a monthly basis. From emerging new designers to well-shod consumers around the world vying to wear the most prescient in the category, heel detailing continues to dominate the luxury shoe landscape with unusual shapes, materials and inspiration. Here we take a look at a few of these emerging shoe stars designing in this ever-fascinating milieu.
Richard Braqo Ghana-born Richard Braqo landed on the fashion radar after he entered (on a lark) — and consequently won the brand new Cesare Paciotti Accessories Award for his thesis collection at Parson’s. A collaboration with Paciotti soon landed his footwear co-creations in Barneys and Saks, and Brago then moved to London to intern for Helmut Lang and Acne before launching his debut collection in September of 2012. The collection is full of hard edges, vertiginous five and six inch platforms and unexpected embellishments, like a gold spear bedecking the side of an ankle boot, metallic fringe scales, gold ankle bracelets providing the ankle strap to a stiletto and fierce warrior like gold spike stiletto heels, He characterizes the line as “juxtaposing the masculine and feminine” with luxurious suedes and velvets in cobalt, Bordeaux and black, while incorporating masculine details from men’s brogues and gold metallic edges. Alicia Keys, Rihanna and Beyonce have already embraced the collection and retailers such as Wolf and Badger in London and Mahani in Dubai have snatched up the line.
Chelsea Paris Nigerian-born, London-based shoe designer Theresa Ebagua was a former IT executive who had an epiphany on a business trip, enrolled in Ars Sutoria, and promptly launched her line, Chelsea Paris, soon after. Named after her two daughters, Ebagua’s line uses materials from ostrich feathers to snakeskin and suede, while detailed and intricate caging, latticework, a signature heel “collar” shape and scalloped edging create a sumptuous array of silhouettes. For Spring 2013, heel detailing figures prominently with a spike stiletto enrobed in a knot of rose gold and pewter. This “knotted heel” was inspired by a Japaense necklace signifying affection and luck Ebagua had picked up on her world travels. Orange, lavender, python, grey, black, contrast trim details, intricate mesh panels and a caged lattice knee-high Spring boot, make this her most cohesive collection yet. Already sold at Chuckie’s and Fred Segal stateside, Chaloub Scarpe in Dubai and Beams House in Tokyo—and seen on the feet of celebrities as diverse as Ginnifer Goodwin and Kristen Stewart—this global brand is well-positioned to continue storming the shoe shores.
Sophia Webster Also hailing from London, Sophia Webster was first discovered by Nicholas Kirkwood. Although she had the distinction of being Kirkwood’s first-ever design assistant, their relationship was forged under the auspices of him helping her launch her own line after two years at his company. And launch she did. Webster’s debut received so much acclaim that she managed to capture the rapt attention of the British Fashion Council, which promptly awarded her the New Gen award, making Webster the first shoe to ever designer to win it. Her fresh designs belie an attention to craftsmanship and detail—delicate lacings, intricate cutwork and bold graphical elements from multi-colored leopard to tribal zig-zags to bubbles, all in a riot of bold colors like cobalt, peach, orange and citrus yellow, which are strong yet feminine. Heels attract just as much attention as uppers here with what appear to be stacked bead stilettos rendered in metal, painted polka dot heels and collaged wedge platform heels. Influencer retailers from Net-a-Porter to Kirna Zabete and Colette snapped up the collection, with On Pedder, Level Shoe District and Harvey Nichols following suit. And an e-commerce platform is soon set to launch on Webster’s own site for her cult-like fans like actress Chloe Moretz. ,
SD Yohans Rounding out the shoe stars comes up-and-comer Selam D Yohans a British-Eritrean designer based in London. The former banking whiz trained at Cordwainer’s, where she completed both a Bachelors and Masters degree. Her final thesis culminated in an extreme convex heel shape that encompassed hours of theoretical research around women’s concepts of beauty throughout the world. Her current collection takes inspiration from Andre Dubreuil’s iconic, delicately curved furniture designs, producing hourglass shapes like enveloping ankle sleeves and seductive swooping design details that enfold the foot, all of which echo back the shape of the gently swelling stiletto heel that blooms where it meets the upper. An architectural wooden wedge heel with a severe front-cut in the platform over the knee boots, and strong graphic cutwork round out this scientifically sexy collection. Combined with a palette of black, deep jade, vibrant ruby, caramel and gold with dashes of white, rendered in suedes, pony, python, snake and hard metals, the total effect is one of come-hither, statement-making silhouettes. Adored by British pop star Katie Malua and UK actress Jemima Roper, Yohans’ creations are currently available at Independent Boutique in the UK, Carnet De Mode in France and online by special order at the designer’s website.