Kate Calamusa

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From the Ground Up: How to Wear the Halo-Strap Pump

There is an instant sense of empowerment that occurs when you slip on a new pair of high-heel shoes (don’t we all strut just a little bit more in our favorite pair?), which may be why the halo-strap trend has us all under its spell.

A modern update to the classic ankle-strap heel, the lust-worthy halo is elevated above the silhouette for maximum va-va-voom appeal day or night. Here are a few ideas on how to style some current favorites with looks that transition from office to occasion (’tis party season after all):

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From the Ground Up: How to Wear Shooties

HERO

As we fully arrive into fall, the bootie has become an essential part of every gal’s wardrobe after bursting onto the scene several years ago. From cowgirl to luxe, the versatile bootie comes in a variety of styles. However, this season we greet the latest incarnation of the trend: the “shootie,” a streamlined silhouette that packs the punch of a bootie in a traditional shoe shape. (Hence, shoe + bootie = shootie.)

In our second installment of From the Ground Up, we turn to a few favorite designers to show us how to style this supersleek, superchic style, which can go pretty and punk, or sultry and sophisticated:

NATURAL WOMAN: Fendi ‘Polifonia’ Bootie | Burberry London Double Breasted Coat

rag & bone/JEAN Zip Detail Skinny Jeans | Burberry Cat’s Eye Sunglasses

Tracy Reese ‘Medallion’ Embellished Tee

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POP-IN@Nordstrom

Pop-In @Nordstrom: Exclusive Flats with Parisian Flair

Leave it to the Parisians to infuse a flair for romance even into their shoes.

In our new, French-themed Pop-In @Nordstrom shop, curated by Director of Creative Projects Olivia Kim, we introduce you to two French brands with long-standing traditions of both exquisite craftsmanship and personal, heartfelt connections to their slip-on flats: Chatelles and Repetto.

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Chatelles ‘Albert Custom’ Loafer’ | Chatelles ‘François Custom’ Loafer

There’s a love story behind these covetable slip-ons from Paris-based Chatelles. Designer François du Chastel fell in love with a woman and created a special pair of shoes for her with a verse by Victor Hugo embossed on the inner soles: “Je ne puis demeurer… loin de toi plus longtemps.” (“I cannot live far away… from you any longer.”)

The lady loved the shoes, but not François, and when she dumped him, she took the shoes with her. Luckily for us, the designer picked up the pieces of his broken heart and founded Chatelles.

Chatelles ‘Honoré Custom’ Loafer

The three styles that were custom-made for our French Fling shop are handmade in Portugal from the finest Italian leather and fitted with a durable latex sole. (We especially love this cobalt blue style with broken heart embroidery, in homage to the company’s origin story.)

Repetto ‘Cendrillon’ Patent Leather Ballet Flat | Repetto ‘Cendrillon’ Distressed Goatskin Ballet Flat

You have a movie star to thank for these sweet Repetto flats: At screen siren Brigitte Bardot’s request, the signature ‘Cendrillon’ ballerina flat was designed by founder Rose Repetto in 1956, using her famous “stitch and return” method to fashion a durable shoe with the flexibility of a ballet slipper.

Legions of Europeans have fallen hard for this iconic style; now, with options in both silver and electric blue, you can too.

Be sure to visit our Pop-In @Nordstrom shop for more great finds laden with French flair.

—Kate Calamusa

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Meet the Maker: Sophia Webster

Maybe it’s the physical resemblance to Lewis Carroll’s title character from Alice in Wonderland; perhaps it’s the dreamy, almost mesmerizing kaleidoscope of color, texture and pattern in her designs. Whatever the reason, British footwear designer Sophia Webster possesses an inherent—and utterly charming—ability to lead fashion down the rabbit hole to her wonderland of whimsical, ultra-feminine shoes.

The former protégé of the revered Nicholas Kirkwood and the first-ever shoe designer to receive the British Fashion Council’s New Gen award, Webster debuted her breakout namesake line in pre-spring/summer 2013 with aplomb.

Now available here across the pond, the line skillfully and surprisingly combines pastel shades and vibrant fluorescent patents with big, bold prints and almost-outrageous details. Frilly, playful and girly in the best possible sense, Sophia Webster shoes and accessories also embody the free-spirited nature of the designer herself.

“I think fashion is about personal freedom, to express who you are through the clothes you wear,” she explains. “The Sophia Webster girl is confident, independent and strong-minded, but she likes to have fun and doesn’t take herself too seriously.”

To celebrate the arrival of the line at Nordstrom, we sat down for a tête-à-tête with the wunderkind to learn what makes her tick, why she has an obsession with Narnia and what the must-have Sophia Webster shoe for fall is.

THE THREAD: How would you describe the general aesthetic and vibe of Sophia Webster?

SOPHIA WEBSTER: I would describe the aesthetic as playful, colorful and feminine. The shoes are for spirited women who love life.

Why footwear? What was it about shoes that first intrigued you?

I have always been intrigued with the ways in which shoes can transform not only an outfit but also the attitude of the outfit’s wearer. High heels emphasize femininity—they change your posture and the way you carry yourself in general.

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Color-happy: Sophia Webster goes wild with her pre-fall collection

How did your apprenticeship at Nicholas Kirkwood influence the designs we see today? What was the most valuable lesson you learned?

He influenced my entire attitude toward shoes. If Nicholas has an idea for a shoe and if suppliers or manufacturers tell him it is not possible, he will exhaust the possibilities until he can prove them wrong. If he believes something is possible, then he always finds a way to make it happen.

He was also a great influence in terms of his approach to design and his capability to balance his technical knowledge of shoe production with his creativity—without letting one restrict the other.”

The bold and the beautiful: Sophia Webster ‘Rik 03’ Sandal

Which design are you the most proud to see come to life?

The ‘Rik 03’ shoe, which is my best seller, was one of my first shoes I designed on my master’s course at the Royal College of Art in 2009. At college, I was very strong-minded in that I only wanted to design shoes that were wearable and commercially viable. I always believed that if you cannot wear a shoe and walk in it, then it is a sculpture rather than a shoe with purpose.

What were a few of your inspirations for your autumn/winter collection? We’re especially intrigued by the use of bold patterns and color.

I was inspired by my favorite childhood books and films: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Edward Scissorhands and Clueless. The collection has Cher Horowitz-esque plaids, rainbow Narnia-inspired heart polka dots printed onto hologram leather and polka-dot pony skin.

I love incorporating pastel colors and vibrant fluorescents with neutrals. I feel that it adds more visual texture and a fresh and uplifting perspective. I studied fine art before I started designing shoes, so mixing color has always been a passion of mine.”

On the dot: Polka-dot booties from the 2013 London Fashion Week Presentation

Tell us about the thinking behind your London Fashion Week Presentation last February. What did it say about your line?

I wanted to create a rainbow Narnia forest, dressing the models as unicorns complete with horns made of plaited rainbow hair. The entrance to the presentation was through a wardrobe, so it created a dream-like experience when you entered the forest. I love creating an imaginative setting to showcase the new collections. I think it gives people a chance to immerse themselves in the crazy Sophia Webster world.

Magical land: Sophia Webster’s fanciful fairyland presentation in London

We’re rounding out our fall wardrobes, so we have to ask: what are a few of your favorite designs for everyday wear?

For everyday wear, ‘Liza 4’ is a statement pointy pump, a classic shape with a metallic polka-dot twist. It’s comfortable at work and dressy enough to carry you through to after-work drinks. ‘Liza 4’ will definitely be a main part of my fall wardrobe… I also couldn’t live without my ‘Finn’ shoes, ‘Amis’ boots and ‘Suki’ wedges. They are super-comfortable and are the perfect day-to-night shoes.

Fall essentials: ‘Liza 4′ Pump’ | ‘Amis 2’ Boot

−Kate Calamusa
Photos courtesy of Sophia Webster

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From the Ground Up: How to Wear Sneaker Wedges

“Hello, lover.”

The imitable Carrie Bradshaw may have first uttered those iconic words over 12 years ago, but surely there is good reason they have stuck in the cultural lexicon: when it comes to shoes, we fall hard—and often.

As the features writer for the Nordstrom.com shoe division, I purr those words approximately fifteen to twenty times a day as I encounter shoe after glorious shoe, trend after fun trend. (Yes, my life is hard.)

So, perhaps it’s an occupational hazard, or the fact that shoes never betray me the way pants sometimes do after one too many sweets, but I start my outfit planning from the shoes on up. I doubt, nay hope, I am not alone. So, fellow shoe aficionados, thus we introduce a new blog series, From the Ground Up, on how to style your look to the shoe of the moment—from luxe “shooties” (say what, a shoe bootie!) to the newly reimagined high-top sneaker.

We start with the latter, summer’s kicked-back, sporty-splashy sneaker wedge. Channeling the urban-cool vibe of the 90s-era high top, these sneaks have gone high fashion with chunky wedge heels, high-impact color and bold details including zippers and buckles.

“Sneaker wedges are a great alternative to heels or flats,” Nordstrom shoe buyer Julia Flynn explains. “They give any outfit a sporty edge. I particularly love them worn with skinny jeans or skater skirts.”

As seen below, whether styled pretty in pink or boho glam, this style is a go-to weekday to weekend—totally comfy, totally cool. Try them on for size and snag your fave; here are three fun ways to build your outfit from toe to head with finds from Nordstrom.

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The Shoe: ASH ‘Genial’ Sneaker, The Look: Eclectic Chic, rag & bone ‘Aviator’ Blazer

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Top: MINKPINK ‘Pride of Place’ Crop Sweater | Handbag: COACH ‘Legacy – Haley’ Leather Satchel

Ring: House of Harlow Sunburst Ring | Pants: Topshop African Print Cigarette Pants

The Shoe: Nike ‘Dunk Ski High’ Sneaker, The Look: Pretty in Pink, Splendid Lace Trim Tank

Pants: Viva Vena! Floral Pleated Pants  | Handbag: MICHAEL Michael Kors ‘Selma – Stud’ Saffiano Leather Crossbody Bag

Watch: Juicy Couture ‘Royal’ Double Wrap Leather Strap Watch

The Shoe: GUESS ‘Hitzo’ Sneaker, The Look: Boho Glam, Viva Vena! Print Tee Maxi Dress

Scarf: Nordstrom ‘Floral’ Silk & Cotton Scarf | Bangles: Natasha Couture Bangles (Set of 12)

Sunglasses: TOMS ‘Kilgore’ Aviator Sunglasses

Get sneaker chic during our Anniversary Sale—but only for a limited time. Prices go up August 5.

−Kate Calamusa

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