Hubert Burda Media

If the Shoe Fits…

British Vogue contributing editor and Lane Crawford editor-at-large Harriet Quick tells us about her new coffee table book, Vogue: The Shoe

A must-have for all fashion lovers and footwear aficionados, Vogue: The Shoe is the third in the series of coffee-table books published under the magazine’s aegis. Packed with arresting images personally selected by Quick, the tome features all manner of boots, sandals, pumps, flats, heels, slip-ons and lace-ups that have graced the pages of Vogue during the last 100 years.

Divided into five chapters – Cinderella Heels, Town & Country Classics, Cult Style Inspiration, Summer Dreaming and Fetish & Fantasia – Vogue: The Shoe is available for pre-order at Lane Crawford ifc, where an exhibition of images in the store’s footwear department is open until March 12.

Tell us about your new book Vogue: The Shoe.

I’d worked for Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, for 11 years and she knows my taste quite well. She asked if I’d like to write this book. So I said yes. And it was as simple as that. The Vogue library is kind of fantastic – all the issues and all the material you could ever imagine. So I was delivered boxes and boxes and boxes of imagery, all the imagery of shoes from 100 years of Vogue. So then I began the big process of thinking how this book should be. I wasn’t keen to do anything chronological, because I thought it would be quite boring. I wanted to find some themes that I felt were current and interesting, and I wanted to bring out the magic of the imagery. Some of the anecdotes behind the shoots are incredible.

You had to go through all the Vogue archives from the last century. What was that process like?

Literally, I put all the photocopies [of the images] down on the floor of the office where I worked. It’s a shared office and I was doing it over the weekend and literally the whole room was covered in imagery. It made me really concentrate and have to make decisions, because I knew my colleagues and friends would be back on Monday.

How have footwear styles evolved throughout the years?

Broadly speaking, I would say if we went back 100 years, there were beautiful shoes that might be couture or hand embellished or embroidered. Those were very fine, but there was less variety of shoes. That was also to do with technology and also skirt lengths were a lot longer. The shoe only really became interesting and an object of obsession when the hemline on skirts was raised.

In the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s there were more restricted styles, particularly during wartime when women were wearing lace-ups and heavy work shoes because of rationing. There were some great styles and inventiveness during that era, like Salvatore Ferragamo, who created wedges using cork from wine bottles. So there was huge innovation during times of restriction. The ’60s is when you really see the explosion of youth fashion and youth shoes, because you’ve got the mini skirt and the child-like Mary Jane shoes, patent shoes and the sexy knee-high boots.

The 2000s was really about the statement shoe. It was also the era when shoe designers became rock stars. Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Gianvito Rossi – they were like gods. There was a big boom in their businesses and shoe prices went sky-high. And now, there’s so much choice.

Shoes have played a major role in movies and TV shows, such as Cinderella or in Sex and the City. Why do you think women are so fascinated with shoes?

It’s interesting. So there’s Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella’s slippers. We grow up on fairytales. You put on ballerina shoes when you want to be a ballerina. I think shoes mark a right of passage. There are your first party shoes, the great pair of trainers on the tennis court, your Wellington boots, the shoes that you get married in or fall in love in. They represent moments or chapters in your life. Everyone can wear and love shoes. They can be very expressive.

There’s a saying that goes something like the right pair of shoes can change a woman’s life. What’s your response to that?

I suppose they could do. I certainly had a boyfriend who was attracted by my shoes. That’s how we got talking. I was wearing a pair of Miu Miu heels and it gave him an excuse to come and talk to me. So maybe they can change your life. They can certainly be helpful.

What’s the one pair of shoes that you can’t live without?

Oh my goodness. There’s a Manolo Blahnik stiletto that’s very classic and very plain, that can go anywhere and do everything. You can’t go wrong. It’s just elegant. It’s his absolute best seller and it hasn’t changed for decades.