Yeardley Smith is my kind of woman; she believes work should be co-mingled with a healthy dose of fun, has a wickedly awesome sense of humor, and believes that there’s no reason why style, comfort, and high quality footwear need to be mutually exclusive. Wanting to know more about personal take on creating a line of footwear, Marchez Vous, that catered to all three of these needs, Ms. Smith was kind enough to humor my series of questions that got right to the nitty gritty of designing and producing shoes, sharing some of her secrets to the trade, alongside some shoe style suggestions to keep you at the height of fashion and comfort all-summer-long!
Fashion Pulse Daily: For you, what makes a comfy shoe (and the elements that you incorporated into Marchez Vous)?
Yeardley Smith: AFTER I decided to have my own show line, I learned how complicated shoes are to make! LOL! (I often leap first, then look down. Oy!) But three things are a huge help in making a comfortable, high-fashion shoe:
1. Adding a hidden platform will mitigate the slope of any high heel, thus helping relieve the pressure being placed on the ball of your foot. 2. Add a cushion that has some resilience to it so that it springs back. (Hello, Poron!) 3. Every millimeter counts — in terms of strap placement, width of strap, and/or how the shoe wraps around your foot.
FPD: How do you make high heel heights (4″ or over) do-able for all-day wear?
YS: When you’re trying to make a 4-inch-plus heel that can go beyond the car to the bar, a hidden platform is essential. Of course, this is easy when platforms are trending, and a much bigger challenge when they’re not! But at the end of the day, no matter what trends are “in”, I refuse to make a shoe I can’t wear comfortably for at least 6 hours. If that means our single-sole shoes (i.e. no platform in front) have to have slightly lower heels, then so be it. I did, after all, make a promise to myself and my customers to make beautiful, comfortable shoes!
FPD: What has most surprised you about the shoe making/designing process?
YS: It surprised me that the women’s shoe business is run by men. From the designers, to the buyers, suppliers, factory owners, and technicians — every aspect of the industry is dominated by men. And yet they don’t have nearly the amount of first-hand knowledge about the product that we do! I think that’s a little presumptuous, don’t you?!…
In terms of design, I can’t say I was surprised that black shoes always end up being our best seller, but since I adore color I’m a little disappointed. That said, I still try to buck the system. Which, by the way, never fails to end up with me getting my come-uppance. It’s now a running joke at Marchez Vous: Yeardley vs. the unintended best-selling black shoe!
FPD: Where have you derived some of your inspiration for certain silhouettes are styles? (i.e. from shoes in your closet? Vintage styles? )
YS: I always say my design directive is: take classic shapes and apply exquisite details. The operative word here is “detail.” I don’t think there’s a lot of it in fashion these days, and if there is, you pay dearly for it. When I look at pictures of shoes throughout the ages, I’m drawn to styles that were popular from the 1920’s to about the mid-1950’s. These three + decades had a glorious reverence for detail, which makes them timeless. At Marchez Vous that’s what I want to do too: I want to make beautiful shoes that will stay among your favorites for years to come.
FPD: What is your ultimate dream shoe? (if you haven’t made it yet, that is!)
YS: Feathers! I’m dying to design a shoe that’s encrusted with diamonds and feathers! (My COO and accountant just passed out.)
FPD: Since you do a bit of traveling between New York, LA, and everywhere in-between, which is your favorite West Coast Marchez Vous, and East Coast Marchez Vous (and why)?
YS: I walk a lot when I travel (between terminals, from the hotel to the restaurant, etc.). So I tend to pack any of our styles with straps and a mid-heel: (GISELLE, SIMONE, CLAUDETTE). I also love our boots– knee-high or ankle– for easy comfort: (LUCA, CELESTE, DELPHINE, DOMINIQUE)– because they all have moderate heel heights, and/or the ever-loving hidden platform. They also have a wide enough heel-strike to give me the confidence I need to stride through my day.
FPD: Can you give us the Yeardley shoe “prescription” for spring with your latest styles in accordance to this possible scenarios coming up for most people in the spring/summer?
What is the best Marchez Vous shoe to wear to:
1) a wedding in which you literally only know the bride?
YS: If you’re secretly hoping to meet your first (or next) husband at this wedding (and even if you’re not), I’d go with GRACE or ZOE in coral! She’s classy and understated, but the vibrant color says “there’s way more to me than meets the eye!”
2) a day of site-seeing, museum-going, and other touristy things?
YS: EVE or MICHELLE would be perfect for this day. Although they’re flat sandals, they still have our Poron in the footbed.To put it plainly, this is like a little Tempurpedic mattress under your foot! As well, both sandals are pretty enough to wear with a dress, or to dress up a pair of jeans.
3) a graduation party?
YS: This party probably takes place on a lawn, or some uneven terrain, and the booze will probably be flowing freely. You need to be steady on your feet for this shindig! Wear ANNE in hot pink. No matter what your age, the color will say, “I’m young at heart,” and the wedge will give you a little height, but not too much. So gofer holes will be no problem and you’ll also be ready to catch your BFF when she trips into your arms by accident after having one too many.
4) a bachelorette party?
YS: Married or not, we all want to look hot at a bachelorette party! Any of Marchez Vous’ Spring styles on our new, super-high platform sandal will make you feel like you can pole dance with the best of those Chippendale’s boys. So try ELOISE, or CONSTANCE and send us the photos!
5) ____ scenario of your choice
YS: — You’ve been challenged to a one-on-one pick-up basketball game. If you win, you get a million dollars. If you lose, you have to walk a mile in your shoes.
We don’t call INÉS and SIMONE our “working girls” for nothing! Wear either style and you’ll be able to gloat like a winner, no matter what the outcome. Plus, they come in lovely Spring colors, like Apricot and Lilac. Win-win-win!