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Style Extra

The Man of the Million-Dollar Shoes

se.jpgThe “Fever” Is a Must

Stuart Weitzman says his four-inch stiletto pumps project style
for both boardroom and cocktail parties.

When Stuart Weitzman created his first pair of one-of-a-kind, bejeweled, $1 million shoes for the Oscars in 2002, he was making a statement that he was seriously invested in the glamour business. With stars such as Angelina Jolie, Fergie and Beyoncé stepping out in his stilettos, his heart—and sole—are still committed to dressing some of the world’s most famous women. But these days, he’s focusing on more accessible glamour befitting a changing world.

Weitzman’s extensive seasonal collections of more than 400 styles are staples in the wardrobes of sophisticated women such as Ivanka Trump and Katie Couric, who turn to the Long Island native for fashionable, exquisitely designed footwear that feels as good as it looks. (Weitzman offers an almost unheard of variety of four widths and sizes ranging from four to 12.) “I am one of the few designers who is also a pattern-maker,” he says. “So I personally see my products through the entire manufacturing process.”

Weiztman’s passion for fashion drives him to create shoes that make every woman who wears them feel like a star. Before jetting off to Spain to oversee the production of his latest line, the tireless designer took time out to share his style secrets and weigh in on women’s timeless obsession with shoes.

What inspires your eclectic collections?
I believe creativity can be sparked by the simplest details—things I have seen on the sidewalks of New York City, the Spanish countryside, a favorite old movie and the changes in nature within each season. My entire collection is created with wants, desires and needs of women in mind.

Why are most women obsessed with shoes?
The answer is so obvious: What is the first wonderful story that most little girls read about? Cinderella! It’s about something as simple and accessible as a beautiful shoe that makes her feel like a princess. Who wouldn’t want to be Cinderella for a night?

What does “luxury” mean to your brand?
I think of playfully glamorous, quality-made footwear. But a shoe must function, first and foremost, which is why comfort and fit are essential elements of a great shoe design. Of course, without beautiful lines, eye-catching appeal or something fanciful about it that just makes you smile, success will not be the result of just a comfortable shoe.

The Spanish manufacturing methods have taught me how to ensure the best quality and craftsmanship for each product. Ever since a group of shoes made in Elda caught my eye with their exceptional quality and workmanship, it became my home. Our entire team, from sewers to partners, gives their all to the product and treats it as if it’s their own. It’s quite unlikely that I could have established such camaraderie elsewhere.

What key footwear styles should every woman have in her wardrobe?
No. 1 is the stiletto heel because it can make a good pair of legs look great and a great pair look fabulous. Every woman should own a pair of my four-inch classic stiletto pumps called the “Fever.” It is sophisticated yet sexy in that it can take a woman from the boardroom to a cocktail party without sacrificing style. You need chic footwear to make your girlfriends jealous of your fabulous find, yet at the same time have your date spellbound by your legs in them.

The second must-have is a fabulous evening shoe because you never know when that special occasion will arise, and you want to be prepared with the perfect shoes. I have always been mesmerized by Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. The shine and sparkle captivated me the very first time I watched the film. I continue to strive for this feeling when working with unique materials. My favorites are transparent materials like vinyl, mesh and chiffon because they show off a beautiful foot in a sexy way. They are also versatile in their ability to go with anything you wear.

Finally, a great flat boot is important. I recommend a boot with stretch in the back so it can fit almost any calf and still look stylishly comfortable. Add design detailing to the boots like fur, studs, fringe and buckles, and you have a fashionable winner for the fall season.

What is it about Southwest Florida that inspires you?
I love the colorful, cultural atmosphere. My new “Jelly” collection for summer fits perfectly into the Floridian lifestyle. With today’s modern technology and its vivid color palette, I am able to create such functional shoes using the jelly material, which are fashionable and easy to wear.
The “Blingy” and “Beadles” sandals, with crystal and stone embellishments, are my favorite of the group.

What are the key footwear styles for fall?
I believe there won’t be just one main footwear trend but multiple trends for the fall 2010 season, so women can have options. Within my collection, the hottest fashion silhouettes are lace-ups, lady-like pumps, fur boots and wedge ankle booties.

Will suedes and snakeskin be big?
Yes, I always think that suede and snakeskin should be within a collection. But for the fall 2010, it’s all about the fur and shearling boots.

What will be the hot color for fall?
Military greens.

What are the important toe shapes and heel heights?
The lady-like silhouette has returned in full force for the fall season with its pointy toe leading the fashion way. From the highest heel to a more subdued kitten heel, the look is polished and refined for the modern woman.

How did you come up with the $1 million shoes concept for the Oscars? What has that done to your brand?
I got tired of the media always asking about the dress and jewelry on the Oscar red carpet, so I started to create footwear that demanded a spotlight of its own. The red carpet enhances the glamour aspect of my brand. It offers a nice platform to showcase the elegant designs of my latest footwear styles at the major award show ceremonies. I love that women enjoy wearing my shoes, so if that woman happens to be an international star like Angelina Jolie or Beyoncé, it is even more flattering that she chose to wear one of my designs above all those vying for her attention.

Gulfshore Life’s Style Council
Led by Denise Cobb, the members include Penny Anderson, Patty Baker, Mary Susan Clinton, Shirlene Elkins,
Susie McCurry,
Amy Oshier, Connie Rosellini and Cynthia Sherman.

Saks Fifth Avenue
Waterside Shops, 5395 Tamiami Trail N., Naples; 592-5900.
Waterside Shops, 5489 Tamiami Trail N., Naples; 325-6100.
Pratt’s Shoe Salon
The Village on Venetian Bay, 4206 Gulfshore Blvd. N., Naples; 262-6342. 1183 Third St. S., Naples; 261-7127.

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