He's the undisputed King of Wedges, and for that reason alone, we would have been happy to feature Mr Terry de Havilland on Grazia Daily, but when we found out that he is about to mark his 50th anniversary in the biz, we knew we had to track him down for a wee chat. It's not just us that love Terry's work - Selfridges, who certainly know their footwear onions, will be holding an exhibition in the shoe gallery space showcasing Terry's iconic archive pieces for one month starting today - the exhibition ranges from shoes made for David Bowie, Bianca Jagger to Kate Moss and Angelina Jolie. They will also be stocking 4 exclusively designed shoes as well as the A/W '11 collection, and selling all shoes online. Considering all the time he has spent around pop stars and celebrities over the years, we know for a fact Terry must be a veritable library of filthy gossip. Plus, how can you work in fashion for 50 years and not have at least a few interesting insights? Here, Terry has shared a few of them with us . . . .
Dear Terry de Havilland, 50 years is an awful long time. What are the 3 things that have changed most significantly in the world of fashion since you started?
The loss of UK manufacture. I hate not having my own factory but I do have my London based workshop and I'm going to produce more footwear over here in the future.
Fashion is more about business than creativity these days. A lot of the fun and individuality has gone out of it. There's so much "stuff" available yet it all seems to look the same. All this "Oh it's SO last season" stuff really annoys me. A good design is a good design and there's nothing wrong with longevity.
Celebrity culture has changed a lot over the years, particularly the way celebrities relate to the fashion industry.
Who has/have been your favourite ever clients? And why?
As well as all my regular customers I love the Broken Hearts and the Puppini Sisters, Beth Ditto and Ana Matronic. Back in the day it was Cher, Bette Midler and Shirley Bassey, Patti Boyd and Angie Bowie. They're all such strong, self-assured women who aren't afraid to do their own thing.
What do you think of the current Royal fever? Are you much of a flag waver yourself?
I like the new generation of Royals. They seem much more in tune with the modern world, more approachable and less awkward. Harry can definitely come over for dinner; I think his new squeeze would look great in my shoes. Having said that I always had a soft spot for the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. There was a naughtiness about them and they loved their platforms.
Which contemporary celebs or fashion icons would you like to see in your shoes that you haven’t yet?
Adele. I have a style called Lydia which is inspired by the shoes my father used to make; very 40s, very old school Hollywood glamour. Not too high but still very sexy.
Are there any contemporary shoe designers whose work you admire?
I love the work of Jan Jansen and Rene Caovilla who are peers of mine. I also like what Irregular Choice do. Their work is fun and quirky.
We thought we spotted your shoes at the Lily Allen launch party. Were we correct and if so do you have a link to Lily? What is the story behind that?
Yes you did. There's an art piece called Cinderella's Revenge, a huge chandelier which is installed in their flagship store which was a collaboration between me and the artist Fiona Gall aka the Emerald Faerie. The chandelier incorporates components from my shoes and features a pair of my 7" heeled gold snakeskin sandals. (above) My only real link to Lily is of the "six degrees of separation" kind. We have a lot of friends in common.
What is your secret to longevity?
Never look back. Take the knocks and carry on. It'll be alright in the end; if it's not alright, it's not the end.
Wise words indeed, Terry. Thank you so much!
- Interview by Naomi Attwood