Fashion brands design and manufacture beautiful shoes, and then there are shoe designers who are dedicated to creating nothing else but beautiful things for women’s feet. There’s always something to be said for a person who decides to charge forth as a cordwainer. Whether it’s a tireless trooper spending decades perfecting his craft or a fashion-savvy maestro who noticed a need in the market to be filled with, shoe designers deserve our salute and admiration.
The most famous shoe designers in the fashion world have blown our minds with their perfect designs, which have stood the test of time. There are top women’s shoe designers, while there are established names in the footwear fashion industry who will never lose popularity:
Manolo Blahnik knows exactly what women want on their feet. The Spanish designer was already famous long before the girls on Sex and the City wore his ultra-luxe collections on the set, but his fame reached a whole new level after his brand was repeatedly name-checked on the popular show. When Carrie Bradshaw got proposed to by Mr. Big, the world made a collective gasp as she was wearing a gorgeous pair of sapphire satin heels. This royal blue pair that most women ogled over is Manolo Blahnik’sHangisi pumps, which became something of a legend.
As a designer, Manolo Blahnik is known for his languid and elegant footwear forms. He was the brains behind the secret of the toe cleavage, which is an important part of the sexuality of the shoe. He brings women a decadent masterpiece with an elegant modernity.
The designer of the shoes in every fashionista’s dream is Christian Louboutin. He creates shoes for women who favor style over practicality. The French fashion designer famously quotes, “I would hate for someone to look at my shoes and say, ‘Oh my god! They look so comfortable.’”
Louboutin is notable for being a red-soled label, with classic, elegant, and curvy shoes, such as the signature stiletto-heeled Pigalle. The idea for the statement red soles came to Louboutin one time in 1993 when he had been tinkering with one of his prototypes and felt it was a bit boring. His assistant then was painting her nails red on the side, so he got the idea to paint the bottom of his shoe cherry red, and the rest is history. Today, the iconic red-lacquered soles have become synonymous with luxury, as it can be found in the closets of the world’s most stylish women.
There are so many things that we owe Coco Chanel for – the LBD, the use of a jersey in clothing, and the two-tone slingback she created in 1957. Coco designed it to be the final touch of elegance with a nude color elongating the leg and the black toe cap abbreviating the foot. This flattering design and elegant colors had the fashion press fawning over it, and it became a natural hit among the style setters of their day. Brigitte Bardot, Jane Fonda, Catherine Deneuve, and Romy Schneider have frequently been strutting in this Chanel shoe.
Today, various iteration of the black-nude two-tone design has popped up in the market, with the hue applied to ballet flats to boots. But Chanel’s slingback is the most iconic and versatile of them, which can be business-like to wear by the day and classy enough to take you during the night.
Roger Vivier is the Faberge of footwear, as he designed extravagant, richly-decorated shoes that he considers sculptures. Vivier was credited for developing the design of the stiletto heel in 1954. Stilettos were discovered around the late 19th century, but it was Vivier who revived and developed this opulent style using a thin rod of steel – which became a modern standard for stiletto heels today.
The French designer is trained as a sculptor, and his stilettos had a dangerous elegance to them. Since he opened his first boutique in Paris in 1937, Vivier’s stylish and elegant creations have been spotted on many Hollywood stars and royalty, including Brigitte Bardot, Queen Elizabeth II, and Catherine Deneuve.
Aldo Gucci, the son of Gucci founder Guccio Gucci, is the designer behind the brand’s classic loafers with the distinctive metal horse bit. It first emerged in 1953. The Italian fashion label, founded in 1921, is one of the oldest in the industry, and it started out as a manufacturer of luggage and equestrian equipment.
Aldo Gucci also recognized the appeal of the equestrienne lifestyle among the wealthy English upper-classes, so the metal horse-bit has been incorporated into the shoe designs. This classic shoe that brings a subtle nod to the genteel life became an instant hit, and it has been worn by the likes of classy and stylish women like Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot. Until today, then it’s the favored off-duty shoe of celebrities, models, and influencers alike.
Salvatore Ferragamo is a trusted luxury brand that offers eyewear, watches, shoes, and leather goods for both men and women. When he created suede platforms for Judy Garland in 1938, the shoe became one of the brand’s most iconic designs. More than 80 years later, the same platform shoe dubbed as the “Rainbow Sandal” was still available for purchase on the brand’s website.
The Italian shoe designer and high-end retailer are credited for being the inventor of the modern platform shoe, and his legacy in fashion is still felt up to this day. The enduring style and designs of Salvatore Ferragamo products make it relevant for every generation to come.
If not in fashion, where on earth do ordinary people supposed to use geometry? Emilio Pucci, an Italian fashion designer, is known for making fashion pieces in geometric prints available in a kaleidoscope of colors. He uses bold geometric shapes on shoes that he uses every now and then, making unique and daring footwear pieces.
If you can’t live without your trusty ballet flats, thank Brigitte Bardot and Rose Repetto for this. In 1956, Bardot asked Rose Repetto for an everyday pair of shoes with the look and feel of a ballet shoe. This request gave birth to the Cendrillon, which started the chic trend of wearing ballet flats outside the theatre and dance halls.
The Cendrillon ballerinas are an iconic product of the brand, which ensures both comfort, class, and elegance. Its design has been popular ever since and is enjoyed by most women worldwide who value style and casual comfort.
London-based Charlotte Dellal is the founder of Charlotte Olympia’s footwear and handbag creations. This British luxury shoe and accessories brand was founded in 2008, and it expanded quickly in the US and internationally. Dellal has built an internationally-recognized brand through her creativity and wit. The Charlotte Olympia shoes are known for their Dolly platforms and kitsch influences, combining Hollywood bombshell aesthetics and British humor.
Charlotte Olympia’s first smash hit is its super-high platform stilettos – worn by celebrities like Sofia Vergara, Hilary Duff, Anne Hathaway, Heidi Klum, Julianne Moore, and more. But it’s the Kitty flats that became a bestseller, and its design was imitated by lots of shoe manufacturers in the world.
Colombian shoe designer Edgardo Osorio first launched his luxury footwear brand Aquazzura in 2011. Launching the brand at just 25-years old, he knows how to market his brand to young women, and Aquazzura exploded in sync with Instagram. Social platforms and good timing aside, Osorio’s success was much due to his fantastic platform sandals. Their shoes proved to be bestsellers, tapping into the demand for practical and elegant footwear.
Besides his platform sandals, Osorio’s signature lace-up, pointed-toe heels, and flats sold really well until today. Those fine, strappy creations – including the signature “Sexy Thing” booties, Christy flats, and Belgravia flats – are still selling well, and the label continues to influence footwear fashion as a whole.
If conversation-starting and super-sassy shoes are your thing, then Sophia Webster shoes are the answer to your footwear problems. Sophia Webster is one of the newbies in the fashion world and one of the world’s most famous shoe designers. She launched her eponymous footwear line in 2012 and has since been renowned for her feminine, bold, yet playful design approach.
This newly sparkling brand offers a pinch of childish and whimsical style and a bunch of nice colors that can create marvels. From pom-poms to diamantes, to stiletto heels with butterfly wings to Dina gem-embellished mules – Sophia Webster has it all.