Nov 29, 2019
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Shoe designer Terry de Havilland dies at 81

Nov 29, 2019

One of the 20th century’s most influential footwear designers, Terry de Havilland, has died at the age of 81. While he ran a couture business in recent years, he was most closely associated with the glam rock era and the platform sole/block heel creations in materials from metallic leathers to exotic skins that provided numerous pop culture moments during that decade. He was also a lover of the wedge heel and his 1973 Margaux wedge was a trailblazing shoe that continues to look fresh today.

Terry de Havilland

Original de Havilland shoes remain in high demand on the vintage market today and his influence can be seen in the work of many modern designers. Plenty of the platform shoes, sandals and boots, as well as the platform wedges, seen on runways and in stores today have their roots in de Havilland’s designs.

His influence was furthered through the exposure his creations received by being seen on celebrity clients including David Bowie, Cher and Kate Moss, and he also created the distinctive styles worn by Tim Curry in his role as Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

De Havilland was born in East London into a shoemaking family and began working for his father's theatrical shoes firm, Waverley Shoes. As early as 1960 he designed a five-tiered wedge for the firm that was an instant hit. 

In the ensuing years, the publicity his shoes garnered brought them to the attention of big-name fashion influencers, including Bianca Jagger, Rudolph Nureyev, Lee Radziwill and Angie Bowie, and that celeb exposure went on to raise his profile even more.

He opened the Cobblers to the World store in 1972 on the King’s Road and his association with The Rocky Horror Picture Show began three years later. The opening of Kamikaze Shoes in 1980 saw the launch of a more punk/goth style. But as the trend cycle moved on, both Cobblers and Kamikaze had been closed by the end of the decade.

However, de Havilland continued to create punk/goth-influenced styles under The Magic Shoe Company name with an outlet in what goth-central during the 1990s, Camden. His shoes also continued to be worn by high profile customers such as Sienna Miller and Geri Halliwell, who wore a pair of his red platforms when the Spice Girls met Nelson Mandela. Angelina Jolie also wore his footwear in 2001’s Tomb Raider movie.

Although he’d lost the rights to his brand name more recently, his place as a major player in fashion’s history is guaranteed.

He’s survived by his wife and business partner Liz, his two sons and five grandchildren.

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