Sunday, 6 November 2011

Evins- shoe maker for the stars

Have you heard of Evins the shoe designer? Google it and you'll probably be redirected to Evans the shoe shop. This is a travesty.

David E. Evins designed shoe after shoe for decade after decade, many of his designs selected and worn by stars on the silver screen, the red carpet and in the White House.

David Evins
David E. Evins himself

He began his career as a fashion illustrator for American Vogue soon after World War II. While sketching shoes for the magazine, he started to alter what he saw for effect, trying to make the shoes more appealing. His editor was not impressed, and sacked him. Telling him that if he wanted to design shoes, then that is what he should do for a living. And so, he did.

Shoes (Pumps)
Evins designed shoes from 1958, now owned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art
He first worked as a pattern cutter for others, but in 1947 opened up a factory with his brother Lee in the spiritual home of high heels: New York City.

A year later he won the prestigious Coty Award to celebrate American fashion innovation. The prize was for his creation of the shell pump, a design which showed more of a woman's foot than ever before. In the 50's he launched a handmade shoe called '6 ounces'. It sold for $175 a pair at a time when quality women's shoes typically cost about $45. Arguably, many of us wear shoes based on this early design every day as our fail safe court shoes for work and dinners out. Supposedly Evins reaction to the many awards he won over his career was to stand in the middle of the factory floor and say: 'No kidding?'

But to really appreciate his importance in the history of shoes, you have to look at his client list. He designed shoes that were part of Grace Kelly's trousseau- fit to see her become a princess. And for Cher, Jackie O, Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland (supposedly his favourite dinner date), Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor and was an absolute favourite of Nancy Reagan who routinely ordered six pairs a year- two styles in three different sizes for winter, summer and for when aboard Airforce One.

Image courtesy of Cote de Texas blog

Evins died in 1991 at the age of 85, but his legacy lives on and if you would like to own a pair of his famous shoes, I have one pair for sale, and they are as lovingly designed as you would expect.