Terry de Havilland’s iconic shoe designs

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Sole survivor

Terry de Havilland’s iconic shoe designs are a fashion success story.

It’s always said that fashion is fickle. But the opposite is also true, because there are fashion brands that endure, defying the zeitgeist with iconic looks that continue to appeal. Think about the Chanel handbag, the Burberry trench, Levis 501s, and add to that list: the Terry de Havilland snakeskin platform. Because these 1970s shoes are still in production and the new AW23 collection is based on designs that date back to the originals.

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Terry de Havilland was the End End shoemaker who became known as the Rock’n’Roll cobbler and created metallic leather platforms worn by Bianca Jagger, David Bowie and Marianne Faithful. He was the man behind Tim Curry’s heels in the Rocky Horror Picture Show and his Kings Road shop Cobblers to the World defined the era of disco footwear. Despite the advent of punk killing off most of the market for sparkly heels at the end of the 1970s, he continued making shoes in various guises until a renewed interest in his early designs was sparked by Miu Miu famously copying his style for their 2003 campaign. 

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After his death in 2019, the brand was taken over by Terry’s nephew Darren Spurling and his son Josh. Together they are reviving the brand and their new collection is based on all the old lasts. Darren explains: “Terry designed his first shoe in the early 70’s, a style which you can still buy in our Icons collection today. The Margaux Wedge, inspired by the model and actress Margaux Hemingway. This unique wedge is still part of our collection today and is reinvented and updated with each collection.

the margaux wedge
The Margaux Wedge

The collection has his DNA and influence. The Margaux, Zia, Lena, all his original designs that have evolved with the times. When creating new styles we always refer to the archive designs to keep the heritage alive.”

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The best selling style is be the Zia Mid Gold Platino, launched last year. It’s a fabulous duo of metallic gold and silver shades with a mid heel height designed, they claim, for comfort – although it’s important to remember that mid-heel in the de Havilland world is a matter of 11cm, perhaps with a 3cm platform. It’s all about the pitch, they say, which in this case is a net 9cm. Mid heel? 

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Another sell out is the Annie’s Ibiza Cowboy collection, says Darren. “We collaborated with Annie’s Ibiza to create a limited collection of iconic, leather cowboy boots. This style has continued to keep a strong top spot on the best selling list”. 

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Fans include Margot Robbie, Rita Ora, Lily Collins, Sienna Miller, Anya Taylor-Joy, Laura Whitmore and Amy Winehouse to name a few. The excellent craftsmanship remains, even though the new collection is made in Spain and not in Terry’s Hackney workshop. Shiny snakeskin leathers in bright colours, soft suedes and lots of metallics characterise the new collection, which looks as fresh today as it probably ever did. Long live Terry de Havilland.


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