Illustration Francois Berthoud
A few years back his $500,000 sandals, the Diamond Dream, hit the headlines. "We wanted the Oscars to be a global showcase for our shoes, and I think we can safely it say it was", Stuart Weitzman rightly congratulates himself. On the feet of actress Anika Noni Rose at the 2007 ceremony, the stiletto heels encrusted with real diamonds were caught on camera by the world's media and passions were unleashed… Suddenly even the youngest fashion bloggers had heard of the brand Stuart Weitzman, who over the years has become the go-to shoe man known for combining two very American values: glamour and functionality. For the first value a cohort of stars compete on Hollywood red carpets shod in the ultra-light Nudist sandal that so sensually reveals the foot - Blake Lively, Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and even Gigi Hadid. For the second this architect of shoe design guarantees optimal comfort even on 12cm stiletto heels: "I want women to smile when they wear my shoes," Stuart Weitzman explains.
The New Yorker, both a seasoned designer and businessman, has relied on solid experience and reflection: more than a simple craft, the shoe and its sinuous curves have always been part of Stuart Weitzman's life; his father owned a factory in Massachusetts. As a young man he chose business studies without ever dreaming of joining the family business…but he did sell shoe designs for pocket money. "The business took me by surprise, because my talent got noticed and rewarded," he says today, "But it took several years of experience to fine hone my objectives." The pioneering Stuart Weitzman launched his brand in 1986 based on a crucial factor: having his own factories. "That allowed me the greatest of freedom and the utmost control, not only when it came to making my designs quickly and according to my own criteria, but also being able to adapt to the needs of the clients." And thus the Alex and Corkswoon platforms, the 5050, Lowland and Highland boots saw the light of day to the delight of so many women.
As for the Nudist sandal, it now shimmers and shines in celebration of the brand's 30th anniversary. Swathed in Swarovski crystal graphic designs - dots, camouflage, chevrons, python scales - it symbolises the sparkling fantasy typical of Stuart Weitzman, owner of the Coach Group. A glamour that its mischievous bespectacled founder doesn't hesitate to describe as "over the top" before changing his mind with that pure American commerciality, "But you can also have just one shade of rhinestone for a block colour sandal. It's that ability to personalise the shoe that gives the client such a special experience."
BY Delphine Roche