Set amongst an unimposing block of terrace buildings, just moments walk from the nearest Metro station in the heart of Jesmond is a shop like no other. It’s a small white space with floating white shelves, and has pure white cloth draped floor to ceiling at the rear of the showroom. The only features from the outside of the shop that make it standout are a white French Bulldog statue tethered to the lamppost and a sign with a florescent pink shoe on. The shop is owned by shoe making legend Terry de Havilland who has crafted extraordinary shoes for over five decades.
De Havilland has made shoes for every kind of celebrity over his 50-year career. From artists such as Tracey Emin, to rock stars like David Bowie and Marilyn Manson (whose bill at the end of his spree came to £666) to models and female figures Kate Moss and Jackie O. He has also created shoes for films – The Rocky Horror Picture Show and fashion shows as recent as Anna Sui spring summer 2015.
Each shoe is displayed in such a way that they may as well be in a gallery. Created in metallic, velvet and real snakeskin. De Havilland’s shoes take you back to 1970s when Bowie was in his Ziggy Stardust days and (glam) rock was the music to be listening to.
Every shoes is cleverly crafted with either a striking stiletto, supporting square heel or platform. But for those who like to keep their feet on the ground then peep-toe sandals called Kitty, with a thin strap and buckle finish are available. As with most things in fashion, the devil is in the details. As the clasps on the court shoes are made into gold razor blades or have the silhouette of a heeled shoe on. Each piece having a different buckle making it as individual as its wearer.
Sandra Tang, marketing and events manager for NE1 in Newcastle describes de Havilland’s shoes as: “So comfy, you can wear them for hours”. Sandra wore De Havilland’s Zap Pow wedge platform in fluorescent pink with Lichtenstein spots and cartoon style print at the event.
As the night got underway I got to ask the managing director Darren Spurling, what he believed a first time buyer into the de Havilland brand should buy. He chose his top three shoes to suit any price range.
His first pick was the Margaux shoe priced £495, which was created in 1973 and is still the brands best seller. Made from signature metallic real Python skin into a peep-toe wedge with ankle strap, the spin of the wedge formed into a sultry S shape adding to the already sexy shoe. The Margo wedge has celebrity fans in Abbey Clancy and Daisy Lowe who worn them to her 21st.
The Luna heeled platform was Darren’s second choice. This shoe had a resurgence in the 1990s when Prada copied the design, leading people to seek out the original over the new. Making de Havilland a household name once again. Made from metallic blue suede and leather with silver accents this is a style that will never date. The Luna is priced £295.
The third and final pick is from the couture line and is one of only four made. The Leya strapless court shoe in emerald green with crystal details is stunning. Each of the four pairs comes with a hand signed card from its creator. Leya does not come cheap with a price tag of £900, but de Havilland is giving his clientele the chance to own something truly unique.
De Havilland describes himself as a “rock ‘n’ roll cobbler”, whose earliest memory is the shoes worn by his mother and created by his father. His career through the 1970s saw him open his shop Cobblers To The World on King Road in London, where it was an awash of drugs and design. I suppose you could say the now clean Terry de Havilland is high but in a different sense, he’s high on heels.
Terry de Havilland’s shop is in Jesmond – 9 Clayton Road, NE2 4RP.