Will we ever tire of buying shoes? Judging by the last few years, it would appear our appetites are bigger than ever. Each shiny new footwear department (some big enough to have their own postcode), mall and ecom site just opens up more possibility, choice and downright longing.
Harrods’ Shoe Heaven floor has become a thing of legend and it’s only just opened. With 42,000 square feet of footwear fabulosity, you name it, it’s been bought in vast quantity to satisfy our insatiable fetish for the fancy and functional. Two years in the making, Shoe Heaven has three entrances, seventeen luxury branded boutiques and no end of options. Yes there are plenty of statement heels as you’d expect from a store whose glamorous overseas clientele scoops up Loubs by the dozen. But there are also thousands of flats, from affordable Kurt Geiger utility boots to the jewelled ballerinas adored by the Asian customer who likes her beauty and novelty served with a side of comfort.
Trainers? Of course. In particular, Isabel Marant’s cult sneaker trainers have a prime spot, because even if the fashion press are over them, the paying customer it seems, is not. Clearly, we’re a nation of feet-first dressers, so this shrine to our favourite pastime would be hard pressed to fail. In fact, the only downside is there’s almost too much to take in; be warned, this is not a department to whizz in and out of. But then why would you? If I haven’t made it clear, Shoe Heaven is a one-stop shop for the shoe obsessed. And the most impressive part is undoubtedly the bedazzling boutiques, created in partnership with the world’s biggest luxury houses (Vuitton, Dior, Prada, you know the rest…).
Despite its vast size though, Shoe Heaven feels oddly intimate thanks to the exacting eye of David Collins Studio, whose old school vision of luxury marries the killer combo of spaciousness with tactile velvet sofas and hand-knotted carpets…
Many brands have worked on exclusive product and colourways but really, it’s the sight of shoes and nothing but shoes in their mono-product design temples that impresses. If you get your kicks from wall-to-wall Rockstuds or a mirrored wonderland of Saint Laurent’s disco boots, then you really will be in shoe heaven here. For me though, the real fun comes with our favourite shoe visionaries. So Manolo, Prada, Louboutin and Charlotte Olympia are worthy of a Shoe Heaven trip alone.
You arrive at the Manolo Blahnik store up a flight of stairs (yep, an actual stairway to heaven) to find yourself in Manolo Nirvana. Louboutin is also jaw-slacking in its size and breadth. And Charlotte Olympia’s shelves (top and below) are a brilliant expression of Charlotte Dellal’s creative verve and attention to detail. Marvel at her Chinoiserie wedges inlaid with mother of pearl, cult kitty flats and ornate heels carved with dramatic dragons. And don’t think it’s only about the eccentric statements because Ms Dellal caters very well for those who like a walkable stiletto pump too. (Although admittedly she does win the prize for highest heels in the store – hers top out at 145mm).
What has Harrods got in store for the launch? Well nothing short of 37 specially made shoes under the umbrella of the Silver Lining Collection. There’s an exclusive pale silver version of the Charlotte Olympia Kitty flats, a high top sneaker from Chanel, Prada’s silver space-age studded wedge and Louboutin’s sexy metallic spikes. It all reeks of the extravagance, indulgence and a just-for-you attention to service that Harrods is renowned for. With increasing competition from other retailers and etailers, this idea of shoe heaven in a serious statement of intent to get the shoe obsessed stampeding through its hallowed halls.