I have this secret wishlist of shoes that I need to own, because they are iconic, rock and roll and part of fashion history. I am the proud owner of a pair of Vivienne Westwood pirate boots, but now on top of my wish list is a pair of snakeskin Terry de Havilland wedges.
De Havilland was a famous shoe maker in the seventies. His first patchwork snakeskin three tiered wedge sandals were sold in a boutique in Kensington Market. The shoes proved to be a huge hit and made regular customers of the rock n roll set; Bianca Jagger, Anita Pallenberg, Britt Eckland and Angie and David Bowie. In 1972 de Havilland opened the ‘Cobblers to the World’ store on Kings Road in London’s Chelsea – a vision of peach mirror glass walls, a tented ceiling featuring an oversized chandelier and purple velvet banquette seats. Like Biba, it was deliberately theatrical inside and became a mecca for rock stars and celebrities who bought 5 inch wedge shoes with ankle straps in peach, yellow, pistachio and blue snakeskin, and thigh-high, satin-lined black leather boots.
Spurred on by Miu Miu showing a collection of wedge designs almost identical to his originals, and by Cher popping into his studio to order 13 pairs, de Havilland relaunched his own-name brand in 2004 and created a new series of wedge shoes for Frost-French’s lingerie-inspired catwalk collection. The shoes stole the show and de Havilland transfixed a new generation. Now, Sienna Miller and Kate Moss wear his gold and red python skin Bene and Margaux wedges and Amy Winehouse performs in his pop-art painted mules. All are modern versions of his original designs.
The Margaux wedge
Some of his great statements:
“Shoes can change a woman’s life. High heels are empowering. I’ve seen people come into my shops and take off their shoes and put on my shoes and all of a sudden they start strutting their stuff. It changes the way they behave. They put your hips in a different position, push them forward. Men like that.”
“Five-and-a-quarter inches is about the most you can wear comfortably. You can’t wear a six-inch heel, your toes wouldn’t touch the floor.”
“Women’s feet have got bigger, massively so. Also, what they can tolerate has changed. I try not to make women suffer – there’s nothing worse than being miserably uncomfortable in your shoes. You see some trannies – it’s amazing what they do with butter and ice cubes.”
“People are really prepared to suffer for their vanity. They have implants in the balls of their feet and some of them have a toe taken off.”
“We do style, darling. We don’t do fashion.”
“I consider myself the rock-n-roll cobbler. Thats exactly what I am. I always was.”
“There’s nothing like seeing a girl in full-flight down the street ‘clitter-clatter-clitter-clatter’ with high heels. I mean thats just music to my ears!”
“I love girls being taller and taller and taller particularly tall girls wearing platforms. That is heaven for me!”
“The rock ‘n’ roll years have never really gone. My shoes have always appealed to flaunters. They’re not for the faint-hearted.”