October 14 2010
Along with Manolo Blahnik, shoe designer Terry de Havilland was lionised by the 1970s “in crowd”. Bianca Jagger, Bette Midler, Jackie O, Elton John and Rudolph Nureyev all teetered on his funky platforms made of snakeskin dyed in snazzy metallic hues.
Despite a slight career hiatus, de Havilland has recently enjoyed a comeback as glorious as that of contemporaneous groovers and shakers Barbara Hulanicki and Celia Birtwell. It couldn’t be more timely: Marc Jacobs’ spring/summer 2011 collection – wide-brimmed hats, hot pants, flowing, off-the-shoulder dresses – harks back to Jodie Foster in the movie Taxi Driver and late-1970s Yves Saint Laurent.
De Havilland’s two archetypal styles are his Margaux wedge and dagger-heel stilettos. He can create endless permutations of these if you contact him via the website for his couture service, which offers shoes made of suedes, leathers, snakeskins and satins in myriad colours and finishes, priced from £450 to £850. Fans include Kate Moss and Cheryl Cole.
But available direct online is a new, more affordable main collection that revisits the classic Margaux, which comes in burnished gold or silver snakeskin (second picture, £370); another, called Emma (first picture), in black and bronze, combines a stiletto heel with a platform sole, though rest assured the latter isn’t excessive (£235).
The son of a shoemaker – whose earliest memory is of “platforms worn by my mother and made by my father” – de Havilland knows his craft inside out: “I know a lot of old techniques gleaned from decades of design and manufacture. I use a ‘spring-o-lator’ in my mules, which enables wearers to walk without having to claw up their toes to keep the mule in place. My ankle straps are elasticated so you can buckle the strap tight without restricting movement in the ankle.” De Havilland says he designs “for show-offs”, but his longevity surely rests on this concern for comfort, too.