It is not a secret that I am shoe obsessed. One of my earliest fashion memories dates back to 1996 when my mother and I lived in Naples, Italy. On warm summer Sundays, we’d walk from our house in Pozzuoli to a small neighborhood trattoria on Via Montenuovo Licola that—to this day—still prepares the best pizza margherita and penne all’arrabiatta that I’ve ever had. It’s called Da Bernardo, in case you’re ever hungry in Napoli. After a healthy serving of bruschetta, pizza and pasta (carbs, carbs, and more delicious carbs) and of course the obligatory serving of coffee drenched lady fingers (tiramisu), we’d continue our promenade down to the flea market.
Italian flea markets are nothing like the weekend bazaars of America. They’re far more adventurous and riddled with treasures and gems of the premium and luxury fashion variety. One Sunday, after dinner at Da Bernardo, we ventured once again to our coveted treasure trove and were greeted by the usual hoard of bustling vendors yelling prices in sing-songy voices “Cinque-mille Lire! Dieci-mille Lire!”— this was before the Euro was the national currency. And that’s when I spotted them: cream Valentino lace-up woven wedge booties, size 37. They were gorgeous and I have to have them. I pleaded with my mom to buy them for me and after lots of bargaining with the vendor, they were mine. My first pair of designer shoes and I loved them recklessly. At six, I wasn’t old enough to wear heeled wedges and at size 37, the shoes were still way too big for me, but I cherished them. They were my prized possession and I couldn’t wait to grow into them.
We moved back to America a year later and our weekend flea market excursions were no more. Side note: were I ever to run for fashion office of America (if that was actually a thing), the first order of business on my campaign agenda would be to increase the number of luxury flea markets. I mean, hey—we’re in a recession and bartering is a necessary skill in every culture and in every corner of the world.
Anyway, upon moving back to America, I was grounded for something and our home, being grounded was always represented by losing some sort of fashion privilege (image has always been a big deal for me. I could have cared less about losing my allowance). I was nearing the point where those gorgeous Valentino boots were beginning to fit so my mom took the boots and a few other choice items from my wardrobe and put them in a black trash bag and “gave them away.” I found out later that she hid them in the garage. After a few months in the garage, I sort of forgot about them. When I went to retrieve them, to my surprise the bag was gone. My mom had forgotten she’d bagged them and mistook them for donation clothing and gave them to the Salvation Army. My shoes were gone forever. I was heartbroken and some lucky shopper was one glorious, life-changing, Earth-shatteringly beautiful pair of Valentino booties richer.
My mom still apologizes about those shoes but the damage has been done. I am forever scared, and twenty years later, I still think about their shoes and shudder at their absence. So, yes— I take shoes very, very seriously. Every year, I lie to plan my life around a theme. Last year was my year of travel— fitting because I turned 25, so I spent five months traveling around Europe and the US alone as a sort of coming-of-age trek. This year I focused on image and appearance and decided to curb my shopping habit by only buying investment pieces. In the shoe category, I committed to only buying shoes that double as art —ordinary shoes have no place in my wardrobe. I like this because it allows me to wear really basic pieces and dress them up with a fabulous shoe, cutting my morning prep time in half now that I don’t obsess over mixing and matching pieces.
In honor of my oath of “shoes as art,” here are 10 seriously stunning shoes that are so gorgeous they could double as room decor.
1. No.21 Mustard Yellow Elaphe Heel Sandal with Pom Pom & Fringe ($456, at forzieri.com)
2. No.21 Satin Wrap High Heel Sandal ($858, at forzieri.com)
3. 3.1 Phillip Lim Kyoto Silver and Malbec Leather Ankle Knotted Sandal ($650, at forzieri.com)
4. Pierre Hardy black and White Leather Lola Sandal ($358, at forzieri.com)
5. Proenza Schouler Black and White Leather Open Toe Sandals w/ Chunky Wooden Heel ($426, at forzieri.com)
6. Tabitha Simmons Flouncy Linen Heel in Red & Ecru ($279 , at fwrd.com)
7. Loeffler Randall Nicolette Multicolor Fox Fur & Suede Ankle-Wrap Sandal ($450, at saks.com)
8. Gucci Embellished Cutout Leather Pumps ($1850, at asos.com)
9. Maison Margiela Mirror Leather Heels ($545, at fwrd.com)
10. Alexander Wang Ellery Studded Leather Block-Heel Pumps ($995, at saks.com)