In the fourth instalment of Feet First I meet Victoria Magrath, fashion blogger at InTheFrow.com and author of The New Fashion Rules.
Feet First is a series of interviews with like-minded women on the shoes that shaped them and the memories they evoke. Hearing my friends and colleagues talk about footwear, I’m always thrown by the raw emotion shoes can tap into. Voices falter as memories flood back, eyes glint and all the feelings sparked from one conversation spring back to life, triggered by shoes.
If you had to choose five pairs of shoes that defined you, what would they be? The loafers that bagged you your dream job; sparkling sandals to walk up the aisle or fancy flats that gently broke a heart; career-defining public speaking stilettos or the freedom of flip-flops for your first solo travels… Feet First delves into the wardrobes of my trend-setting contemporaries and uncovers those top five shoes, sandals and boots that carry the most meaning, tap into the wildest stories and simply hold the most special place in our closets and hearts.
‘I still have my feet on the ground – I just wear better shoes.’ Oprah Winfrey.
Victoria Magrath, fashion blogger and author
Photography: Rekha Damhar
We’d been trying to arrange a date for months, but when you’re one of Britain’s biggest fashion bloggers (860k Instagram followers and counting) and have to fit in trips to Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks, a new job as columnist for glamourmagazine.co.uk, prep for the launch of your debut book and celebrate your engagement to your photographer boyfriend, time is tight. Victoria and I finally settled down in her elegant Notting Hill apartment last month to chat about the shoes that shaped her. With sun streaming in from the windows, Victoria tells me how satisfying it is to have made her career from blogging. “At lot of people don’t like to be called ‘blogger’ these days but I’m proud of it! My blog is my baby, I love it and I’ve worked so hard for it!”
Discussing the merry-go-round of fashion months which we’ve just returned from, I ask Victoria what her fashion fashion capital is. “Part of me wants to say Paris but I love London because it’s so looked down upon. The amount of bloggers I see in other cities compared to London… No US girls come over, barely any of the European girls come because they don’t know the designers. Just because you haven’t heard of them, doesn’t mean they’re not a good designer! I see them in Milan and ask, where were you?! It’s such a shame. But it makes me wonder, if these bloggers aren’t bothered, should they be coming and filling the seats instead of people who are loyal to the designer?” We both muse about a fashion system in flux. Are we at the point where we don’t need shows anymore? “We need to be at our desks writing things at some point,” Victoria laughs. And as her book, outlining the best way to navigate fashion in our social media-mad world, is published this week it’s clear that she’s been at her desk for some of the time!
Obviously I wouldn’t be talking to Victoria if she wasn’t a shoe fanatic, “I’m a shoes kind of girl” she admits. But how does she manage her collection of approximately 100 pairs? “When I first started collecting shoes I kept all my carrier bags and boxes but now I just keep the dust bags. In the future I’d love to have them in boxes but there’s no room in London! My dressing room is a box room, but it’s one of the reasons I chose this flat. I looked on Ikea at all the measurements of all different bookcases but when I saw they did customisable shelves, I knew I wanted them instead. It’s so lovely to see them all there as I can just pick the pair I want to wear that day! Previously, all my shoes were hidden but now they're beautifully laid out and look like a piece of artwork on the wall. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of!” And now her shoes are easily accessible, how does she choose between them? “My dressing process is very mood based. And then I’ll think of the weather too! Unless I have a brand new pair to wear, I’ll go for an outfit and then choose the fanciest pair of shoes. Sometimes I want to wear a big chunky knit and some jeans and be bit casual but then I’ll throw on my Chanel mules or Gianvito Rossis and they enhance your whole look. Heels make you feel amazing, even in just a white tee and blue jeans, which is why I love them so much. I remember the day I realised that. I could be feeling really crap about myself but as soon as I put on a pair of heels and it really elevated how I felt. I realised that shoes are the window to the magic outfit.” Obviously I agree. These are the magic shoes that have made it into Victoria’s top five…
1) Patent courts, Christian Louboutin
“It was 2010, the last year of university, I was in Harvey Nicks in Manchester with two of my best friends at the time. As it was coming up to the end of my degree in Design Management for Fashion Retailing I was thinking, ‘what on earth am I going to do next?’ My dream was to go to London and to get into the marketing team of a huge fashion brand. In my mind, that was Net-a-Porter. I thought, I would love to be marketing manager of Net-a-Porter, so I thought I needed a killer pair of heels for my future working life. These shoes really made me feel like I was going to be a part of everything I hoped for in my career. I wanted a pair of Christian Louboutins in the perfect beige with a high heel that made them into this amazing pair of badass shoes. When I tried them on I knew I couldn’t really afford them on my student salary but I was so inspired. I worked at Roxy [Quiksilver] during university as I’ve always been a bit of a surfer girl at heart. I did three days a week and I just saved… I just kept saving! They were the most expensive thing I had bought at that point but I really wanted to treat myself and think of the future. For a few years the shoes after I’d bought them, they just lay in my shoe collection, collecting dust! I just didn’t wear them that often! I’d wear them for date nights or tp an event where I needed to be formal - because they are a formal and sophisticated shoe - but it was when I became a blogger I started wearing them much more because there were far more dress-up occasions. I would style them up with anything tailored and a colour like this goes with everything and elevates any outfit. I really felt I needed a classic pair of shoes that were a staple. At that point Louboutin was the pinnacle of shoe brands - the red sole made them so fancy - and I wanted to buy into that. I thought if I have that shoe in my collection, I will be part of that incredible industry. Now I have three pairs, although these aren’t exactly the most comfy pair I own!”
2) Calabria two-tone courts, Gianvito Rossi
“These have been very well loved. I’m a massive Gianvito Rossi fan. I think I have 8 pairs but these were my very first. They either come with a matching toe and heel or alternate colours. I love the fact they are white and beige because I knew they would go with everything and they do. I have literally worn them to death and the plexi in between makes them look so sexy. They are probably four years old now and when I bought them, I sent some pictures to my friends, who didn’t like them! They give really good toe cleavage but even though my friends weren’t keen, I didn’t care. I just went for them! They are probably my most worn pair of heels ever. Sadly they don’t do this colourway anymore but I’d love to rebuy them, brand new. I’m not sentimental when it comes to things so I would probably throw this pair out, if I found a new pair. I do give anything to charity that I can, but these are too far gone! I could give them a clean and they’d be better but I am rubbish at remembering to get things resoled, reheeled, cleaned up. I need to get so many pairs resoled but I feel it’s far too expensive, especially for designer shoes. I think they add on a bit as there’s more at stake! I do have another two pairs of the Calabria courts in different colourways… one is baby pink and the other, which I found in the sale at MyTheresa, has gorgeous gold Aztec embroidery on them. I’ve worn every pair so much.”
3) Two-tone mules, Chanel
I was searching for these everywhere and I finally tracked them down in Nordstrom in Vancouver. They were really the most fashionable shoe of the time but were completely sold out. Although I was about to go on a three week camping trip no way could I leave them behind! I couldn't believe that I’d found them in my size, it was fate! I had my big bag with this Chanel box in the middle of all my hoodies - I was so worried they would get wet but they remained perfect. I was in trainers all the time during the trip, but as soon as I got back and unwrapped them properly, I have not stopped wearing them. They are so comfy! I don’t always go shopping when I travel but when I have something specific in mind, which is sold out everywhere I definitely look. I always look at brands that are situated in the country I’m in, too. If I go to France I will definitely buy more Dior or Chanel as it’s a bit cheaper… although I didn’t care how much these ones cost! When you find something you’ve been searching for… it’s your size… it’s amazing! You feel like you’re fulfilled. It’s ‘just a shoe’ but when you need something - and then get it - it’s like, yes, that’s me done now, I’m fine. Until the next thing comes along! I wish I could remember the actual first time I wore them… it will probably just have been a night out in London… Because I wear heels every day, it could have been anything! I have aspirations of grandeur when I buy my shoes, I think ‘this is where I’m going to wear them’ but I really enjoy the shopping process. If I didn’t find this colourway I would have gone for black and they have actually bought them back in black this season. I’m thinking, should I? Like the Gianvito Rossis, if I saw them in this colour again, I’d rebuy them. They are still in OK condition but they are definitely well loved.”
4) Swarovski crystal courts, Gina
These are so bling! These are particularly special because Gina made these for me to wear to the premiere of Cinderella in March 2015. They are my own glass slippers. I feel so lucky as I was asked to design them myself and the whole process was super bespoke. I said how much I loved the plexi part of my Calabrias, so that had to be part of them! It only took a few weeks to make them from their factory near Tottenham, which is really amazing. The premiere was increidble. There was a blue carpet and I had long purple hair back then. I think the dress I wore was a little Asos number. I looked so different! These shoes aren’t really something you can wear often and I also wanted to keep them special as they are covered in crystals, so I left them in bags after I’d worn then. Although when my mum’s wedding came up, I thought they would be the perfect shoe for that, so I wore them with a lilac Missguided dress. My hair was still purple. If I had my own house and more room, I would love a shelf where I could display my favourite shoes. These would definitely be there. Imagine if the sun was shining on them, it would be like a disco ball! They are the first thing I ever had custom made and it was the first time a brand asked me to design something, which was magical. I can be indecisive but when I get an idea in my head, it’s all or nothing. Because it was for Cinderella, we wanted to do something that was a wearable glass slipper. I should wear them more. Maybe I could wear them for my own wedding… although I want to get another pair for then!
5) Brocade boots, Christian Dior
These were from the very last collection by Raf Simons. They were on the runway and I remember going into the Dior boutique on Conduit Street, while there were doing up the New Bond Street store, with my best friend. I specifically wanted these boots. I don’t know if I’d seen them in Vogue or online but I knew these boots were insane and I needed them. I’m pretty sure they had one pair left, which was fate! It had to happen! Before these boots, I had never been so flamboyant with my shoes and while I realise they’re not THAT out there they are certainly unique. I couldn’t leave the shop without them! I hadn’t started to work with Dior for beauty or fashion at the time but it’s always been my pinnacle brand. These were the most expensive shoes I’d ever bought at the time but I didn’t care. They’re too amazing! I actually have a guy I go to in Dior and I text him if there is something I really want and he will find it! I met him for the first time when I was buying these boots. I must have been in the shop for two and a half hours. Trying on the boots. Trying them on with the matching bag. Taking the bag off again. He was so lovely, although he probably didn’t have two and a half hours to waste chatting to me! These boots were about £800. Now they would easily be £1200. Another blogger, Aimee Song, has the same boots and when I see her wearing them and I always think, I need to wear mine more! I forget! While I need to wear them more, I’m also very protective about them. I've actually had dreams about these boots… I dream that people are in the house, stealing them. How ridiculous is that?! I often dream that people are in the house, taking things, but one time I actually got out of bed and checked they were still there. That’s how much I love them! Shoe lovers will remember these boots and they will never go out of style. I think I might wear them tomorrow actually. Yesterday I filmed a video about my Dior Collection. It’s the one thing I actually collect. I don’t know how many Dior shoes I have… perhaps I have a problem but I love them so much! Shoes make me happy! In total think I have about 100… 120 pairs of shoes? Hang on, there’s 8 per shelf… and there are my boots and flats… that’s 16… So maybe 85-100. What can I say? I’m a shoes kind of girl.”
Published on 1st November, The New Fashion Rules is available on Amazon.