|A Jimmy Choo shoe from the new Holt Renfrew shoe salon at 50 Bloor St. W.|
The Holt Renfrew flagship at 50 Bloor St. W. has a new shoe salon. It officially opened this week with a swish cocktail party for press and the store's best customers. Fashion editor Bernadette Morra and life writer Rita Zekas were there, and discuss the city's newest shoe mecca below. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the comments link at the end of the discussion.
It doesn't look like the footprint of the new show department has changed at all. It's in the same mezzanine location and seems to be the same dimensions. I wonder if people will notice that anything has changed. What do you think? Bernadette
If I closed my eyes, spun around three times and opened them again it would be, "I think we're still in Kansas, Toto." I agree. It looks like deja vu all over again except for the inclusion of some new brands. Rita
But I find the selection much more elegant. Now that all the Browns private label has been taken away, what is left is a much more refined point of view. I don't miss the clunky rubber soled sport shoes at all. It almost feels like a mini-Barneys designer shoe department. Am I wrong? Bernadette
No, I don't think you are wrong but they took away private label and replaced it with Kork-Ease. What is that all about? I loved that they brought in the funky Biba brand from London - a swinging '60s throwback. There was a great platform spectator pump that had nothing to do with Great Gatsby. And Tori Burch is a great addition for the ladies who lunch brigade. But with all the space still relegated to Stuart Weitzman, the Tommy Hilfiger of shoes, I can't help thinking it more a mini-Saks designer shoe department than Barney's. I thought the shoe of the night was the green faux python platform from Gil Carvalho that went for $695. One shoe-aholic who has 400 pairs of shoes was practically salivating as she was snapping them up. But who is Gil Carvalho? Rita
I was wondering the same. There are all these unknown names, along with Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Prada and Gucci. I know we need to break away from the major players and give other cobblers a chance, but shoe designers have become stars in their own right. Holt's is so conscious of having the stars of fashion, I was surprised to see so many unknown brands. On the other hand, because they are in Holt's I feel like I have to give them a chance. Holt's wouldn't carry them if they weren't cool, right? Bernadette
Exactly. The cool factor is important to Holt's and even though they stock the obligatory red soles of Louboutin, kudos to them for giving new designers a platform, so to speak. Holt's is just getting with the program, what with the advent of stores like H & M going with stunt designers like Victor & Rolf to mix it up. The era of the label whore, top to bottom with the double C's of Chanel, is over, though I did see some of it at the other night's opening party. And the price points seem to be more accessible, now that $250 shoes are becoming the norm in stores like Town Shoes and even Aldo. Or are we just jaded? Is a $680 platform reasonable? Rita
I was surprised at the prices too. There was a metallic blue thong from Prada for $350 and Manolos in the $475 range. Or maybe that was the Jimmy Choo patent flat. And I recall an amazing gold python Weitzman sandal for $225, I think. I thought I was hallucinating. I was starting to get that fashion fever feeling where I completely lose control and shop like a madwoman. Luckily the party was crowded and it was late and I was too tired to make the effort. However I am going back to try on the nude patent Manolo maryjane and the black pointy toe flat. And there were several Louboutin pumps which I loved, especially the open toe ones. I think I spent $3,000 in my head in the first 15 minutes I was there. Bernadette
Yes, there were shoes I was lusting over as well but I have vowed not to buy spring/summer shoes while there is still snow on the ground. The last time I dropped major coinage over a pair of Dolce & Gabbans slides, by the time it was warm enough to wear them, they were marked down to half price. That said, there was a healthy amount of retail happening at the party, perhaps spurred on by the lethal combination of alcohol and shoes. Credit cards and vodka don't mix. Also, didn't you love the clips of shoe-buying frenzy from Sex and the City playing in the background? Rita
Yes, it's that air of permissivenes which is so dangerous. But at least shoes are not as harmful to one's health as some other addictions. Now, how do we think Holt's new shoe salon compares to Zola. Should Zola's owner, Debra Anissimoff, be worried? Part of me thinks not, because Zola's atmosphere is so different from Holt's. More intimate. Then again, walking into Zola feels like a commitment. Holt's shoe department is so easy to float in and out of on your way to the cafe or the women's washroom. Bernadette
I don't think Zola's owner Debra Anissimoff is losing sleep over Holt's new shoe department because Zola is more niche, more boutique than department store. Holt's stocks the tried and/or tired and true while Zola prides itself with discovering the new big thing before it is the new big thing. Zola stocks more obscure designers, and though Holt's is going that way, their clientele is not as experimental. The Holt's shopper likes to be taken by the hand and assured that the $900 they are plunking down for the latest Prada/Gucci/Chanel is the dernier cri but not too far out there. The Zola shopper likes to be surprised and educated. Besides, the Zola location way up in the boonies on Avenue Rd. north of Lawrence is a real schlep. But once there, you almost feel that you should buy something given the massive trek. It's Zola's second, Yorkville location that has to be a tad nonplussed about the new lines Holt's is carrying. Is there enough distance between the two stores? Is there enough to go around? Rita
I think this city is big enough and shoe-crazed enough to support Holt's and Zola, as well as Corbo, Davids, Specchio and all the mall chains too!
On another note, should we mention Holt's measly new men's department? I don't know why they even bothered. Bernadette