Upper Street rule

I went along to the launch of Upper Streets new line of shoes by Nicole Summerwood last night, a sleek event attended by lots of sleek looking girls with immaculate nails. Drinks were flowing and the music was pumping by the time I got there, but I barely noticed all that as I was mesmerised by the shoes. There they were, elegant, sophisticated, and fashionable, perched on their white columns, in all their glory.

There were some real stand outs for me, among them the dark grey, glittery heels, perfect for just about any dressy occasion and certainly the ones I’ve got my eye on for the party season. Also, some black suede ankle boots, very similar to ones you’d find in any high end high street shoe shop, but that is the beauty of it.Up to now, ladies with larger feet couldn’t buy these kind of shoes from any high end high street shop.

With prices starting at £170 they wont be a casual purchase but I actually don’t think they’re particularly over priced.  You get what you pay for when it comes to shoes, much like make up, clothes and other fashion items and these are quality products, well made, using good materials and most importantly engineered for larger sizes, important for insteps and heel sizes.

I thought it was unfortunate that they weren’t displaying the shoes in the larger sizes – I saw a lot of 40’s and no 44’s. There is a difference in feel in a shoe along the sizes and it would have been good to have felt them and seen them in the flesh. Maybe even try them on at the event – I can’t have been the only one wanting to slip those beauties on and give them a test run!

But, all power to Upper Street – they have got in there early on what will be an increasing market and they will hopefully establish themselves as a brand to contend with in the larger sizes category, making other suppliers raise their game to compete. Long live Upper Street!

iPhone September 2013 043

The need for heels

When I was in my early twenties, I bought a pair of shoes from LK Bennet. This was obviously in the days when (a) I fit in to LK Bennet shoes (b) LK Bennet made fabulous & sexy and not just Kings Road-tastic loafers and (c) I didn’t mind being agonisingly uncomfortable with every step I took.

The shoes were red snakeskin pointed stilettos, with a 4 inch heel. They were amazing. They went with everything I owned, from twisted Levis (remember them?) to tiny (tiny tiny) skirts.

They were with me when I met my future husband when I was about 26. In fact, they were a deciding factor in whether he was actually going to be my future husband – although I think it’s fair to say that I didn’t really leave him much of a choice (think tiny tiny skirt, those heels and quite a lot of tequila).

One day, in fact, one birthday, around the same sort of time as meeting my FH, I went to pick them up from the cobblers (where I’d taken them for about the 7th time in a year to be re-heeled). The cobbler told me, with no more of a look on his face than if he were telling me that he’d run out of milk, that they were unfixable. He had no concept of the trauma he’d brought in to my life. On my birthday too.

I was, literally, devastated.

Since then, for reasons well documented in this blog, I haven’t owned a pair of killer heels.

Now, without wishing to be too obvious, the need for a pair of killer heels has diminished (the last pair doing their job very well) and these days I am rarely* staggering out of night clubs at 6 in the morning with a man in tow. But as I reach my late 30’s, I think the time has come for me to own, once again, a pair of killer heels. Just one pair of shoes which when on, I feel like I can tackle the world and bloody well win.

Until very recently, there was no point in wishing for a new pair of killer heels. I couldn’t have them. But now, it may be a reality. I’ve written before about Shoes of Prey and Upper Street, retailers where you design your own shoes via their website. Shoes of Prey have always done larger sizes, and I’ve spent quite a long time designing several pairs of shoes.

But now Upper Street (a home grown company, based in North London) have entered in to the mix and are launching their larger sizes collection on Monday. Nicole Smallwood, stylist to the stars and general fashion big fish with big feet to match, has designed a collection specifically for larger sizes.

A revelation! Those who want them in standard sizes have to pay £20 extra for production costs. I think this is the first time ever I’ve heard of larger footed ladies paying less for shoes! Sorry, shouldn’t gloat. Also in the last month, Upper Street have provided us with the ability to design a pair of shoes up to size 44 (which, happily, is my size).

Upper Street formed as a company through the needs of three, larger footed women, who, like me, were fed up with not being able to buy cool, sexy or merely sophisticated shoes. They clearly had a better business plan and a bit more cash (as well as know-how) than me, hence a business which is expanding rapidly and creating a stir as it does so.

The shoes aren’t cheap – but there has been so much in the press recently about how cheap shoes are so bad for your feet, that there can’t be many women out there who don’t want to spend £250 on a pair of life-long shoes (want and can are two very different things, so I’m definitely not assuming that everyone can spend that kind of cash – but I for one am going to save and scrimp on other things to do so)

But my dilemma is, when designing these shoes, do I try to recreate the red snakeskin stilettos, or would that be a mistake? Would recreating them be like trying to relive my 20’s, which although fun, were fraught with self doubt and anxiety? I’ve moved on in so many ways since then, that there’s a big part of me that thinks I should be wearing some very different heels to those ones.

The only man I’ll be wearing them to go out with is my 6″7 husband (which means I could even go higher on the heel if I wanted – the only bad thing about my last pair was that it meant I had to stay sitting down to speak to most men)

But – they were fabulous. And killer heels are killer heels. So, when I’ve saved some pennies and pounds and the time is right, I will be aiming to design shoes which transport me from mother of two, battling to retain a sense of style, to Hannah, owner of some pretty fabulous, nay, fucking awesome heels.

6am will still be too late though.

*never, although a month or so ago it was 5am and I was dragging my husband in tow as I left

Shoe porn - Christian Louboutin A/W 13. They don't make them in my size, so the picture is simply to drool over

Shoe porn – Christian Louboutin A/W 13. They don’t make them in my size, so the picture is simply to drool over

More shoe porn. Just, fabulous. Christian Louboutin A/W 13

More shoe porn. Just, fabulous. Christian Louboutin A/W 13