Cult Shoes: Classic and Contemporary Designs

Image of Cult Shoes: Classic and Contemporary Designs
Release Date: 
November 6, 2012
Merrell Publishers
Reviewed by: 

“. . . lush and extravagant . . . informative and entertaining . . .”

“If the 20th century altered sartorial codes irrevocably . . . then it shifted the focus of an outfit away from merely clothes to include accessories.”
—Harriet Walker,
Cult Shoes

This simple declarative statement implies that chief among those accessories is shoes—the one item you can collect in and for any season, that always fits regardless of your weight, and that can change an outfit from merely suitable to hot hot hot.

Shoes have been elevated, quite literally, to stratospheric heights as objects of desire. Did you happen to know that the average number of shoes closet designers plan space for in women’s closets is 60 pairs? And did you know that to a shoe addict 60 pairs is a paltry, somewhat sad number?

Harriet Walker does. In Cult Shoes: Classic and Contemporary Designs she offers up a complete menu of shoemakers and designers starting with everyday breakfast staples and ending with rarefied aperitifs.

Ms. Walker takes us from the simplest of rubber flip flops (Havaianas) and jellies (Melissa) to Birkenstocks, Clergerie, Jourdan, Ferragamo, Vivier, Blahnik, Choo, Louboutin, and Zanotti to the rarefied Terry de Havilland, Gina, Rupert Sanderson, and Natacha Marro—only a partial listing in this grand compendium. Suffice it to say that all styles, looks, and usage purposes are covered.

It is obvious that if you are not a shoe freak or aficionado, not many of the above names will carry much meaning, but even if you are already a shoe junkie Cult Shoes serves up an extremely thorough education. This book cooks up an amazing tour of the history, art, and craftsmanship of shoemaking as well as an unbelievable visual feast of tantalizing possibilities to add to your collection.

Even a jaded fashion person like I am was delighted to encounter names I had never heard of. (I was also secretly even more satisfied that Prada was only given a passing nod in the onward and upward trajectory of the truly inventive in the shoe business.)

The lush and extravagant color photographs in this book are at once informative and entertaining from a design point of view.

Cult Shoes will make a fabulous gift for women of any age who are addicted to the accessory that rarely goes out of style and always cycles back around. A great present for “shoe bugs” and “shoe dogs” alike. Basically, you will take on hero status when you bestow this book upon any fashionista.