A lot of my favourite brands and shoe designers come from across the globe – and so do their names! Allow me to help you pronounce their names with flair ..
Christian Louboutin chris-tee-AHHn loo-boo-TAAan
At the age of 12, French born Christian Louboutin snuck out of school to watch showgirls in Parisian nightclubs and was fascinated and inspired by their costumes, high heels and long legs. Who wouldn't be ?? All of this can be seen in his fashion-cred red-soled stilettos that are so much a part of fashion today. His self-professed goal is to "make a woman look sexy, beautiful, to make her legs look as long as I can". He succeeds!
Manolo Blahnik mahn-OLL-oh BLAAHH-nick
Half Czech, half Spanish, born in the Canary Islands, the name of Manolo Blahnik is synonymous with class. Pure class. He is a master craftsman and still to this day, the lasts and heels are still perfected by his own hands. Just like the unique pair of sapphire blue satin and crystal heels he created for the final scene in the Sex and the City movie. "Shoes," he muses, "help transform a woman". We, like Carrie, agree.
Givenchy zhee-VON-she (where zhee is like the "s" in usually)
Did you know Monsieur Givenchy is a Count? Born in 1927 to French aristocracy, Givenchy is the "Maison" of couture design established by Count Hubert James Marcel Taffin de Givenchy. (phew!) Think Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's, think Hubert (oo-BEAR) Givenchy. Audrey is my personal style icon, merci Mr Givenchy!
Yves Saint Laurent eve san lore-ONN
Born in Algeria, Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, this French designer is synonymous with couture. He grew up under the House of Dior for which he eventually became head designer. He is perhaps best known for "Le Smoking" the most famous classic tuxedo suit for women he conceived in 1966. His label’s Cage Shoe of Summer 09 was another show stopper.
André Courrèges on-DRAY coor-REHJ
Oh yes, another Frenchman (they do know how to make shoes don’t they ??). Mr Courreges is touted as being the inventor of the miniskirt and his even more revolutionary low-heeled, calf high boots made of white plastic. The Go-Go boot was born!
André Perugia on-DRAY pair-OODGE-ee-ah
Before Manolo, before Choo, there was André Perugia. He was known to say "the wealthiest woman in the world couldn't pay me to make her an ugly pair of shoes". And an ugly shoe he never made. Starting at the ripe "old" age of 16 with his own store, his pursuit of beauty saw him transform Josephine Baker's trademark turban into a quilted kidskin sandal in 1928, fashion black lace shoes for Gloria Swanson, and create the platform shoe. The PLATFORM!!! I am won ... (I think I failed to mention his incredible "homage to Picasso", "heel-less heel" – the man remains unparalleled! )
Robert Clergerie roh-BEAR CLAIRE-jer-ee
Born in Paris in 1934, this designer of shoes is known as the "functionalist" of shoe fashion. He somehow manages to combine classic style, stunning looks and comfort. "Simplicity is my one principal" he says, perfectly incarnated in his debuted lace-up oxfords – a man's shoe made for a woman and his parallelogram heel – now known the world over as the Clergerie heel.
Vivienne Westwood viv-ee-ENNE west-wood
Ok I get it, not that difficult to pronounce. But I HAD to add her name for the sheer delight of writing about her, she, la grande dame terrible of fashion. Her two mottos are "If it's conservative it's dead", and "When in doubt, overdress." LOVE her! Ms Westwood is fetish streetwear at its best. Remember Naomi Campbell’s famous fall down the runway in "those boots"? 9 inch heel and 4 inch platormed Vivienne Westwoods. Towering heels, curving platforms, exaggerated shapes and multiple decorative touches. All are indicative of the Westwood hand. And we are loving the new collaboration she has with Melissa
Louis Vuitton LOO-ee v-wee-TOHN
Since the mid 1900s this label has been dishing out delights in leather for us to enjoy. LV as it is affectionately known is not only one of the oldest but also one of the most legendary fashion houses – and one of the most copied. It has an amazing presence in the market place, and dishes up fabulous advertising campaigns with leading celebrities. The 2009 campaign saw Madonna in all the Material Girl’s loveliness, relaunching tribal. Siren shoes from Australia did a fantastic version of this for like a -millionth of the price!
Roger Vivier ro-JAY viv-ee-AY
To quote many critics, this Frenchman is the Fabergé of footwear. After all, ‘twas he who created the stiletto!!!! (Although Ferragamo, Albanese and Dal Có were producing needle like heels at the same time in Italy) He designed shoes for Christian Dior for a decade and even had his creations on the feet of Queen Elizabeth II for her coronation in 1953 – studded gold calfskin with garnets for the heels no less. From silk-satin knee boots outlined in jewels, to narrow high heels with tips pierced by a rhinestone pave ball for Marlene Dietrich, Mr Vivier’s shoes are indeed true works of art.
Salvatore Ferragamo salve-ah-TORE-eh fair-ah-GARM-oh
Inspired through poverty and his sisters not having shoes to wear to their First Holy Communion, Salvatore Ferragamo started making shoes. And are we grateful or what? This man, at the age of 16 went to the US to shod the feet of Hollywood, before moving back to Italy to open the first of his beautiful stores. And I love him – he invented the wedge after all, is credited as being one of the first to develop the stiletto heel, and (oh bliss to my feet) his daughter Fiamma created the Vara shoe, which is still in production and made today. In the thousands! Grazie Signore Ferragamo!
Giuseppe Zanotti joo-ZEPP-ee zan-OTT-ee
For a man that started off as a DJ, GZ sure knows how to rock shoes. This Italian shoe designer gives women the edgiest, rockiest, hottest styles that are loved and obsessed the world over. His shoes are seen more and more often in show business, with Rhianna, Duffy and Mariah Carey just a few of his fans. But it is Beyonce who took it (pardon the pun!) once step further, and wore a super recognizable DEA platform on the cover of one of her albums. Shiny black patent, killer heel, platform – LOVE...
Cesare Paciotti CHEZ-a-ray patch-OTT-ee
Have you seen his logo ? VERY recognizable with a dagger through the two words. Very rock and roll, and very much a part of the cutting edge and passionate design in shoes and accessories that are the essence of this Italian brand. His ideas are provocative and innovative, stemming from his love of the music and the arts. LOVE his use of studs/stones.
Bruno Magli BROOOON-oh MAH-li
A basement in Bologna, Italy, was the humble startings of this handcrafted high quality luxury shoes and accessories brand that we know. This man knows how to create styles that are timeless yet never dated, classy but never old fashioned. And memorable. Can anyone say OJ Simpson ... ?????
Miuccia Prada MEW-cha PRAH-da
Ok, how can I, with hand on my heart, EVER put together a little list of famous names in shoes without mentioning Miuccia Prada ???? Talk fashion leadership and talk Prada (and baby sister brand Miu Miu naturalmente!) Since 1978 when this granddaughter of the founder of Prada (Mario Prada) inherited the company, the brand has gone from fashion strength to fashion strength. Think the black, finely woven nylon bags that became the fashion cognoscenti’s (con-yo-SHENT-ee = “in the know”) “it” bag of 1985, through to today’s stunning over the knee thigh high leather boots with paper bag ties for (EU) winter 2009/2010. Three sentences on Prada. Vogue. Anna Winter. The film “The Devil Wears Prada”. Need I say more ?
A lot of people in Australia pronounce this as RYE-kerr. Which is fine by me. However if you want to impress the Germans with the correct pronunciation of their beloved comfort brand, pronounce it REE-kerr (rhyming with bleeker).
Like the colours of the Austrian flag, this same-nationality brand is distinctively red and white. You will often see the world Hogl with a “dash” over the o which is to replace the original “umlauts “(just go with me!) that used to be used in Germanic languages. As in Högl. Oh, by the way, these are fabulously styled and seriously crafted comfortable shoes
Check it out, this is a company that produces more than 4 million shoes per year and sells them in over 18 countries worldwide (including to Bunbury, Australia!) . That’s over 20,000 of comfortable stylish German made shoes per day!
No, it does not rhyme with No (as in Nay-ohhhh) this brand deserves its “ott”. Or if you speak Hebrew נאות - because you did know that this is an Israeli brand of shoes, didn’t you?. Made in a kibbutz and everything! Putting style into orthotics
“If you think too much, walk. If you can’t think, walk. If you think poorly, walk some more” the art of walking, Pierre-Robert Hélaine, Arche Founder. And that about sums up this gorgeous French artisan brand of hand made shoes from the Loire Valley in France. Colours like you have never seen, quality to die for, comfort to boot. Summed up in one syllable – Arche.
This Spanish shoe company has been a legacy of incredible shoes evolving since 1925. Combining daring design with richly coloured leathers and statement hand bags, comfort is prominent as is the exceptional style.
Fabulous comfort brand out of Spain where the focus is on individuality of leather and design, involving the latest technologies to produce quality and originality in shoes.
El Naturalista elle nat-sure-a-LIST-ah
This brand is not called “The Naturalist” for nothing! It originates from the famous red wine growing region in Spain, La Rioja (la ree-oh-ha) and has the humble frog as its logo – to represent simple wordly pleasures taken from nature. El Naturalista shoes are made with the impact of the earth in mind – vegetable tanned leathers, natural rubber soles, environmental packaging.
Tsonga SONG-ah (silent t)
Shoes handcrafted by local Zulu women in the Drakensburg foothills of South Africa. African inspired designs, colours and stitching. Comfort like you have never known. And a thread of hope, as each Tsonga sold, contributes towards the employment and education of 160 local women, and the 90 children that form their crèche. Tsonga is what I call a feel good buy, both for the world and for your feet.
Gino Vaello JEAN-oh vai-ELL-oh
Spanish shoes that are decadent, unique and oh so gorgeous. Look for unique trims and styles, individual colourings and matching bags in this brand
From a farm in Currys Post, Kwa-Zulu Natal (South Africa) come hand-stitched and beaded shoes made using indigenous techniques that have been perfected by the African people over generations. This is another company giving previously disadvantaged people hope through training and empowerment. Plus the shoes are fabulous and have a unique African appeal.
Missing something? Email me ...
... at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will gladly set my research fingers typing!