A few seasons ago, a very beautiful and glamorous friend of mine was assisting me at our show in Paris, wearing a pair of killer stilettos. Needless to say she looked stunning. She always dresses impeccably and, being a shoe man, I thought she looked fantastic.
After six hours on her feet she mentioned that the shoes were starting to become uncomfortable (later at home she said uncomfortable was a euphemism- they were hurting like hell). However, being the best friend that she is, she managed to be on her feet for ten hours, looking fantastic and never showing any outward signs of pain. I was grateful, but I had no idea how grateful I should have actually been.
During last year's Fashion's Night Out in New York, I bought a pair of new shoes and, without ever having worn them, decided to wear them to Henri Bendel where I had an appearance scheduled. They were comfortable at the beginning but after three hours, my feet were hurting so much that I felt I could not concentrate on anything but the numbing pain. After what seemed like the longest night of my life and with no taxis around, I walked to my hotel.
I did what I thought I would never do - I took my shoes off in the middle of New York City and walked barefoot. Any disease, cuts or injuries that I might get from the dirty sidewalk could not have been as bad as the pain I was suffering wearing my shoes.
Two things came out of it:
1. I developed a huge respect for the stiletto-wearing-woman.
2. It made me rethink the principle of comfort and fashion.
I think as a male designer designing for woman it is very easy to forget that wearable does not mean you must be able to put it on and look stunning, you should look and feel beautiful for at least a couple of hours, if not whole evening. When I am creating, it's very difficult to think practically, sometimes you need to add "just one more crystal or stone" to balance out the design, but that same crystal can also make the piece wearable or not.
Another thing to consider is the individuals pain threshold. Some people are so used to wearing heavy earrings that they almost don't notice it, whereas many woman have to take out the earrings after a short while since they hurt too much. I started asking different friends of mine to try out all the earrings to get an idea of a weight limit and I got a general idea that most earring wearers can handle half an ounce without any problems. I manage to stay within these parameters with 90percent of my designs.
The problem is when the trends say bigger and bigger, how do I get away with heavier earrings? I thought about using plastic and other less-precious materials, but it just was not my thing.
After trying everything possible the answer was surprisingly simple- the earring had to be so amazing that you would be willing to suffer the same way you would by wearing a pair of 5-inch Louboutins during a night on the town. Even better is wearing the earrings together with the 5-inch Louboutins so that the pain is more noticeable in your feet and you forget about your ears (I am not promoting drinking a few glasses of champagne, but I have heard that it helps as well).
My painful shoe experience made me rethink the way I design. It managed to change my ways quite a bit. Nevertheless, I cannot help making that pair of earrings that although a bit too heavy will make people stop and turn around to give you that second glance.
I have worn my shoes quite often since then, they still hurt, but they are just so beautiful.
We live not according to reason, but according to fashion.
- Seneca, Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD