Footwear has never been more on pointe. “Black Swan” continues to generate buzz with the Academy Awards looming, but it hasn’t been all about the glamour. Costume designer Amy Westcott told Insider that working predominantly with ballet-suitable styles was a challenge.
In the scene where Nina (Natalie Portman) breaks in her pointe shoes, the team used 20 pairs before the take was complete. “The cast [typically] went through a pair a day because they [take] such a beating,” Westcott said of the vigorous rehearsals.
By now it’s no secret that Westcott worked with Rodarte’s Laura and Kate Mulleavy to create the magical looks for the film’s rendition of “Swan Lake,” but don’t expect Portman and co-star Mila Kunis to stick with that label during awards season. “[Portman] will probably wear a Dior dress, but it’s hard to say for the footwear,” Westcott said. “She’s a big Stella McCartney fan, and Jimmy Choo [has] vegan options.” Westcott may be on to something: At the Golden Globes (where Portman was awarded best actress), she strutted a light pink Viktor & Rolf gown, paired with red Stella McCartney pumps. Here, Insider goes behind the scenes with Westcott.
What performance brands were mainly used in the film?
“Natalie’s were Freed of London and Mila’s were Mirella, and both were custom made.”
What about everyday footwear?
“[You don’t always] see their feet, but we had Tretorn and Coach boots for Mila. There had to be a sexy vibe going on with her. For [Natalie], we had this beautiful ballet flat by Stella McCartney.”
Adapting to pointe shoes can’t be easy. What was the experience like for Portman and Kunis?
“It was hard. Those things are like torture devices. Their feet went through a lot of hell and needed some extra care. So Ugg boots were [always on hand].”
What was your most memorable look?
“I love [the villain] Rothbart’s costume when he’s the beast. I loved his face and his mask. The special effects artist made this insane beak, and Rodarte constructed the feather situation.”
There’s certainly a lot of Oscar buzz. Have you chosen your shoes for the big night?
“I love Christian Louboutin. It’s the only heel I totally covet. There is something about his line that keeps it interesting.”
Now that the awards season is officially under way, stylist Robert Verdi is ready with his footwear predictions for the big Oscar night. What he really wants, he said, is to be surprised. “People expect ‘wow’ shoes. And there is no better stage than the red carpet [at the] Oscars.” But it’s getting around those long, flowing dresses that’s tricky. “The shoe becomes a second-class citizen. [The style is usually] basic and neutral,” he said, noting that looks of choice tend to include nude or metallic tones with some crystal embellishments. So who might wow with a short number and exposed stilettos? Host Anne Hathaway is a good bet because she’ll be performing, but Verdi said Halle Berry could have a surprise or two up her sleeve. “I could see her pulling it out and doing short,” he said. “You rise above [the norm] once you’ve won an Oscar, and she has.” And Berry’s not one to disappoint. She rocked a lingerie-inspired, bustier dress with strappy, silver heels at last week’s Golden Globes (above), drawing cheers and jeers for the look.
Russell Simmons may have it made, but there’s one thing the multimillionaire doesn’t have yet: a footwear collection for his newly relaunched fashion enterprise Argyleculture. The media mogul and author of “Super Rich: A Guide to Having It All” said he’s in talks with a number of companies to add shoes to his brand, which is sold exclusively at Macy’s. “The line is for urban graduates, people who grew up on hip-hop and want to have their culture and ideas represented in fashion,” Simmons said. “Until we find the right [footwear] company that can represent that, we don’t want to make anything.” In the meantime, Simmons is sticking to his white Adidas Superstars, which he sports on a daily basis and donates after two or three wears. “I always find someone or a charity that wants them,” he said. “It’s very easy to give away a pair of new sneakers.”
FFANY is kicking off 2011 in a new residence. The organization recently relocated its New York headquarters to the east side of the city — a much needed change, said FFANY President and CEO Joe Moore. “We’re really expanding and looking to add some more employees this year, so we needed more space,” he said. Although Moore said he’s glad to get a fresh start in new surroundings, there was one remnant of the past he couldn’t leave behind: a copy of Footwear News from July 1988. “I found it on my desk while we were cleaning everything out,” he said. “There was a spread in it about FFANY, and I kept it [for the new office].” With more exhibitors than last February’s market, Moore is feeling good about the upcoming show. “Our overall outlook is relatively positive,” he noted. “I’m only crossing my fingers that the weather will be nice, because you never know in New York.”
Julie Taymor may be wishing she went into the shoe business. Turns out the “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” co-author and director — whose Broadway show has suffered from delays, injuries and bad press — has roots in footwear. Her grandfather founded Taymor Shoe Co. in Avon, Mass., a century ago, turning it into something of a New England icon with six shops and a wholesale arm. The business was sold in 1989 and renamed Atsco Footwear (an acronym for Aaron Taymor Shoe Co.) but the director (at right) has been revisiting her family’s past in the Spider-Man plot. An early score by U2’s Bono and The Edge featured a song about footwear, and the story had villainess Arachne catapulting New York into chaos when she steals all the city’s designer shoes. But fear not, ladies. Those stilettos are safe for now: The debut has been pushed back to March. In the meantime, Taymor, who also directed the Broadway version of “The Lion King,” is getting attention for her big-screen rendition of “The Tempest.”