I have been inspired, as of late, to discuss my appreciation of Jeffrey Campbell’s innovative, sometimes sculptured, sometimes strange, shoe designs. Thinking about his trademark platforms, I suddenly found myself drifting back to my childhood.
When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I became engrossed with drawing shoes. It was about the same time that the Spice Girls brought platforms back into every day fashion. Yes, I’m aware, that dates me a bit, but the main thing is that I started drawing shoes, mostly crazy platforms, during class and showing them to my classmates. It became a sudden fad. Before I knew it, everyone was trying to invent new, funky shoes. I remember it as a short-lived period of flurried drawings and minor competitions. Then one day, we had a real contest, informally organized of course, by me and my classmates. I don’t recall whose idea it was, but before I knew it, I was sitting at home working on my drawing for the contest. I worked very hard. I had already drawn dozens of shoes, but this one, a multi-layer, graduated platform heel, was, I thought, my most ambitious one yet. I was confident I would win. I’d started the whole drawing fad, after all. We had the contest, and I got second. I was devastated. But until this day, I still think that I wasn’t awarded first place because my friends didn’t want the fad starter to get all the glory. That was arguably the only fad I ever started, and while it’s hard being objective and memory can be elusive, I still do not think a shoe design with an actual spike heel could possibly be the “best” design. It was no accident that the two most popular girls in the class made that particular design.
With that little flashback, I remembered what it was to ponder new, yet, functional shoe designs. Here I was, a child who’d never worn heels, drawing towering platforms. Perhaps it’s not so different from a man designing women’s shoes, and designing them very well.