Monday, September 8, 2008

Indulgence Without Guilt

Carol De Leon is not shoe obsessed. But as creative director for Devani Showroom in New York City, she is cognizant of the insatiable appetite women have with heels. From working with the top Italian designers to finding inspiration from her father's architectural background, De Leon is securing a well-heeled foot within the footwear industry.

TWHS: What were your first pair of heels?

De Leon: I wasn't able to wear heels, seeing that I attended a private Catholic school. So my memories are of penny loafers and the saddle shoes popular now. But when I began modeling at age 14, I was made to wear my first pair of heels for a fashion show. They were uncomfortable, pointy pumps that had a heel of about 120mm.

TWHS: So your career as creative director for shoes stems from being a reluctant shoe lover?

De Leon: I always loved fashion, so the four years I spent modeling in L.A. was to have a career in that field, not necessarily shoes.

TWHS: How many pairs of shoes do you personally own now?

De Leon: Oh, wow; I have three closets in my home. So I'd say around sixty pairs. But I make a point of purging; when I buy a new pair, I donate an older pair...

TWHS: You have given your father's career as an architect credit for inspiring your shoe designs. If you could interpret one building into a shoe, which would it be, and what would be the distinctive feature?

De Leon: Good question. I would choose the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A., because I have fond memories of riding the elevator as a little girl. The five cylinder-style buildings have four that stand like pillars around the main building, with black and shiny windows look like black sequins.

TWHS: Opening your New York showroom in May must have been a gratifying experience. What is another significant moment within your ten-year journey from working with Italian shoe designers up until now?

De Leon: In my sample room in China, I was the only one with the experience of working in Italy, so I'd have to say building the Devani line. We were designing "shoes for now" by showing them to colleagues who I previously worked with in Europe, so my designs had the same level of Italian influence. I found myself sitting amongst technicians from Gucci and Prada while in China.

TWHS: How would you sum up Devani in three words?

De Leon: Indulgence without guilt! By that, I mean women love to purchase new shoes, but with my prices ranging between $140-$290, they will never have to sacrifice a bill or other necessity to buy a pair of Devani shoes. You'll get the same high-end quality of a pair of $800 shoes, without having to pay that price.

TWHS: What is the one style of shoe every woman needs in her collection?

De Leon: A sexy, strappy sandal, with a heel over 100mm.

TWHS: What should the first-time visitor to Devani expect when she walks in?

De Leon: An emotional reaction to the shoes. She will see something she wants instantly, in the sense of an emotional connection. She may already have her basic black pump, so she won't be shopping here to purchase another. But she will definitely see other pairs of shoes that she wants!

TWHS: What would you like Devani's contribution to the footwear industry be?

De Leon: Empowerment. With prices being reasonable, we give a woman the ability to afford to buy fashionable shoes. And the best part is she still feels great the next day.

Devani is located at 140 W57th Street, Suite 3A in New York City. The phone number is (212) 757-1705.