Traveling Shoes

Traveling Shoes

For all of you business travelers who leave extra room in your suitcase for a sexy pair of new shoes, we give you a city-by-city look at the best hot spots.

By Lea Donosky

New York

There’s not time to get all around the town. So this is the East Side guide for great shoe shopping. If you have limited time, take the express elevator to the year-old redesigned eighth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue. There you’ll find 10,000 pairs of shoes from dozens of the world’s finest footwear lines, a café and a mailbox where you can send a postcard to envious stay-at-homes from zip code 10022-SHOE. For a more intimate experience, head up Madison Avenue to Roger Vivier. The late legend is credited with inventing the stiletto and creating jewel-encrusted sandals for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, as well as the famous silver-buckled flats worn by Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour. Designer Bruno Frisoni revived the line in 2004 and recently added jewelry and handbags. Like the boutique on the rue-Faubourg St. Honore, this outpost resembles a gallery with shoes displayed as sculptural art. Admission is free, but exiting might cost a bundle. A custom-made pair can run into five figures. Make like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City at the Manolo Blahnik boutique. Hit the twice-yearly sales and score great bargains on these super-sexy, super-expensive status shoes, but be prepared for some sharp elbows in the frenzy.


Some years ago when I was a Newsweek correspondent, I worked on a cover story about Texas. The New York editors thought I should be photographed in cowboy boots and hat to go with a squib about me. They were stunned when I informed them that I, a native Texan, had never owned cowgirl duds. It took some searching before I found a powder blue combo I was willing to wear. Fashion cowgirls in Texas now have an easier time. At Cowboy Cool, in a trendy section of Dallas, you can pick up fancy Western wear that no real ranch hand would be caught dead in— like boots with hand-tooled butterfly patterns. Exotic skins can easily run into six figures. But think big. This is Texas. By contrast, check out sophisticated footwear in an elegant setting. At Linus Lounge, entrepreneur Kristen Rada Kovich’s offerings are heavy on unique British brands such as Rupert Sanderson and Nicholas Kirkwood. The sleek showroom is in a trendy area near the Dallas arts district. For a bit of historic Texas, try Neiman Marcus. Sure, they’re in lots of cities, but the 100-year-old original in downtown Dallas will show you the glamour that built NM’s reputation.


I was strolling along a side street on my way to visit a friend’s new flat when my life changed forever. I fell in love with my first pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes, an experience that Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw wouldn’t have until years later. In the windows of a tiny house were the most stunning shoes I had ever seen: sharply pointed spiked heels with delicate straps. I won’t go as far as Madonna, who once said Manolos are “as good as sex. And they last longer.” But his footwear certainly does inspire lust … in women and men. Since the early 1970s, Blahnik has worked out of the same mews house in Chelsea, drawing each design and overseeing production. You can see the complete line here. And when you’re done buying or just drooling over the Manolos, turn right as you leave the shop and walk a couple of blocks to the Chelsea Embankment for an unobstructed and tourist-free view of the Thames. Another great shoe find: Cordwainers College, where officials at the famed school for shoemakers in London’s East End keep a list of recent graduates who do custom work. (Perhaps you’ll get the next Jimmy Choo, a Cordwainers alum.) And check out the Victoria & Albert Museum’s vast fashion collection, including a 1660s embroidered silk mule, which hints at current creations by Emma Hope, and Salvatore Ferragamo’s 1940s breakthrough platform sandal.


I don’t ski, but I love ski resorts. This Colorado resort town boasts a lineup of luxury labels that rivals Madison Ave.: Fendi, Christian Dior, Prada, Gucci. But don’t miss these homegrown specialty stores. Bloomingbirds and owner Patty Patterson have been attracting stylish women for nearly three decades to this mixed-brand store. Everything from Manolo Blahnik stilettos to more down-to-earth Cole Haans is available here. Imelda’s (not hard to guess where the name came from) is also locally-owned and ‑operated and features a selection of shoes and handbags from some of the best lines in the world, including Balenciaga, Jimmy Choo and Lanvin. At Kemo Sabe, pick out a perfect pair of cowboy boots while downing a cold beer.

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