Pleasure & pain
Sam Edelman wears loafers - a far cry from the forbidding footwear he creates for women. 'I personally wear classic shoes from brands like J.M. Weston and a few European designers. They're great, they're comfortable, they're timeless,' he says. 'But working with, and working for women is much more fun.'
The American shoe designer was in Hong Kong recently to launch his Spring-Summer 2012 collection at Lane Crawford, where two exclusive styles - 'Lizette' (below) and 'Addy' - are about drawing the fine line between fetish and fashion.
'It's always been that way when you look at the history of fashion for women,' says Edelman. 'From corsets to foot binding, clogs to perilously high heels, women can put up with a lot of pain for the price of beauty. I think that's one of the surprising things I've seen over my 30 years in the business.
'To be beautiful, to have beautiful things, the perception of beauty, there will always be a great demand for it. It's recession proof.'
It may be oft said, but the designer has seen for himself the cyclical nature of fashion. In the early '80s the Edelman flat ballet shoe was the iconic must-have, which helped launch the brand by capturing the zeitgeist of the moment. The stilettos, platforms, boots and wedges have come and gone, and the flat, in its latest, gilded avatar (in silver, gold, metallic shades with sparkling embellishments) is back again.
'It may be back, but of course it's different,' says Edelman. 'You can't pull out the old '70s shoe from the back of your closet and try to work it. Technology and quality has improved by leaps and bounds. Even in a classic shoe, there's innovation there.'
As Edelman expands into the Asian market, he says it's clear to him that women, from any part of the globe, want the same things. 'Whether it's a lady from New York or New Delhi, China or Chicago, they want to be in trend, they want to be noticed. So even if it's a cowboy-range style - which I think will be in for this coming year - it'll be the same. I don't change my designs or ship out any item to a market based on the people in that market. They're the same,' he says. 'A fashionable woman in New York to a fashionable woman in Shanghai, they get the same quality product. It goes without saying, but the fashion world's got smaller. Women are educated about what's in, so you can't fool them.'