Design

A short conversation with Liz and Terry de Havilland



Shoemaker Terry de Havilland surely needs no introduction. From helping his father with the family cobbler business in the 1950s, to shodding London’s counter culture in the ’60s and Primrose Hill’s finest in the noughties, he’s still doing a roaring trade in sky-high wedges. Now he’s on a mission with his wife and sidekick Liz, to get his teeth into the men’s footwear market.

DRG: How did we get to the point of 6 and 7 inch skyscraper heels?
TERRY: I think this has come about because fashion has declared that women are allowed to wear really high heels without being accused of looking like hookers. The fuss Gwyneth Paltrow caused when she uncharacteristically stepped out in all those high heels a couple of months back was pure genius in terms of publicity.

DRG: What’s the appeal of heels?
TERRY: Once you get used to wearing heels it’s very difficult to give up the height that comes with them. Being taller is very empowering. The Venetian courtesans back in the day used to wear chopines that were up to 24″ tall. They were a sign of wealth because the women couldn’t venture out in them unless they had two footmen to support them.

DRG: What’s your take on all these revivals – wedges, platforms, etc?
TERRY: I’ve been designing shoes for almost 50 years now and I’ve seen heel height fashions come and go. This era is very reminiscent of the 70s. I made some ridiculously high wedges back then which were about 9″ high with a 6″ platform. I put a government health warning label in them. I made them just because I could. I never expected anyone to buy them, but they did! At the moment the most popular shoes from my bespoke range have a 7″ heel with a 2″ platform. Now I’m on a mission to get the boys back into cuban heels.

DRG: Ah, the Archie Eyebrows line. That’s the mens boots I saw that you’re also scaling down to women’s sizes…?
LIZ: Yes, we’ve got two heel heights in them now. The ladies ones are nearly ready, I just wanted to make sure that the last was nice and comfortable before I made them.

DRG: Are you still doing my Alison Mosshart gold look-alikes then?
LIZ: Of course we’ll be doing the ladies cubans in gold. The beauty of it is that we’ll be getting the components in so that we can make the specials here in London. In other words, you’ll be able to come down to the studio and pick your style and your fabrics in much the same way as we make our custom made Terrys at the moment.

DRG: Where are you selling the Archies?
Liz: Archie Eyebrows is much more backstreet than high street. We’ve just set up a shop within a shop selling the line at Sir Tom Baker, 4 D’Arblay St, Soho . You’ll love the shop, Sir Tom Baker is a total nutter and a brilliant tailor. Check out his website. We also stock Stephen Jones hats. It’s a modern slant on a classic gentleman’s outfitters, or as our lawyer calls it “an out man’s gentle fitters”…
Terry de Havilland shoes



Ferragamo Fever




When I was working in India on the launch of a new magazine, Salvatore Ferragamo was one of the international brands that kept pinging up on my radar – their spring-summer shoes were breathtaking and Ferragamo is quite big in India. On my return I proceeded to forget about them, until today. While on my round of appointments calling in for a forthcoming shoot, I came across these purple patent hotties and once home I (naturally) tried them on. Heaven! They have a slightly curved cone heel and a demi platform, yet don’t come under the ‘statement shoe’ umbrella because somehow they retain all their elegance and wearability, maybe because the uppers and ankle straps make them quite delicate. Ferragamo’s Vara bow pumps are already in the thick of a revival, with the baby sister version Varina (the flat one) now a cult hit with New York Gossip Girl wannabes and Japanese O-nee-kei girls alike.

My interest piqued, I decided to have a pootle and see what Ebay has to offer. Sadly, the beauties I’d lusted after on a weekly basis while in India were nowhere to be seen (but you can see a few here), however there were lots of affordable Varas including these AAAA ones (Ferragamos are known for being ultra-comfortable, due to their varied width fittings and going up to a more generous-than-average UK size 9), plus some sweet lace-ups from the quaintly-named Grecia’s Graciously Used Shoes.






Of course, back in the day, Salvatore Ferragamo was as hot a name as Louboutin is now, after all he did invent the wedge…

And in the ’30s and ’40s when the war made it difficult to obtain leather for shoes, he stitched together corks from wine bottles to make cork wedges. An eco early-adopter – who knew! This year is the 80th anniversary of Ferragamo and it’s all change at the house. Cristina Ortiz has taken up the baton as head designer following Graeme Black’s departure so I’m keeping a close eye on proceedings. In the meantime, I’m also keeping a close eye on these lovelies. All in the name of research you understand.



Levi’s: One for the What Took Them So Long file…



I’ve never understood how Levi’s 501s came in different cuts and fits – surely 501 is the style so shouldn’t have variations went my logic. Well, now Levi’s have decided to do a standard cut worldwide which makes perfect sense. The reason cited, according to Levi Strauss CEO John Anderson is that they believe straight-leg jeans are a global fashion trend and now is the right time to establish the 501 as an obvious choice for global consumers. I say, duh, isn’t that a bit obvious? But never mind, at least they’re doing it now. Let’s hope the fit is the same across mens and womens 501s. Please understand Mr Levi’s that some of us girls want what the boys have – a nice lazy-Sunday loose-but-not-falling-down fit.

UPDATE:
To answer my ‘why are there different fits’ question, D has kindly weighed in with the following:
Okay, so the 501 is the model of the brand. The model was then adapted as trends changed, hence the different varieties of 501 over the years, with slight changes in cut: the 1947, ’55, ’63, ’67 etc. It’s similar to the way that Ford have the Fiesta model and give it facelifts to make it more appealing to changing tastes as time passes. The ’47s are quite slim, the ’55s a wider cut, the ’63s have a higher waist and the cut is somewhere between a ’47 and ’55 and the ’67s are very slim, and have a zip fly.

That told me then.



Much ado about M&S



Being something of an outsider, I have a tendency to defend the underdog in most situations and when it comes to fashion, M&S is the underdog du jour. While recent figures show they have suffered their worst sales for three years with shares dropping by almost 25%, I say, give them another chance. (more…)