Walking to lunch, our conversation turns to Beverly’s philosophy of life and footwear design. Ever since she started designing shoes at 23, Beverly has lived primarily in Spain and traveled often to Ibiza. “I developed a lot of my personal style there,” she says. The designer considers her shoes an extension of her personality. “Fashion is fantasy — it’s about packaging yourself, and my part is to do the footwear, handbags, jewelry. You see my shoes and you know a woman was involved in the process.” Beverly says her long connection to China over the years has proven that she can make beautiful designer shoes at prices women can afford (around $200). “And they’re comfortable. That’s the most important part.” I smirk, practically jogging to keep up in my heels.
We arrive at BLT Steak on 57th Street and meander through the “power” lunch groups to our table. Beverly is only in New York for a week, and just hearing her travel plans for the next two months gives me jet lag. Now with eight shoe and handbag collections a year — and that’s just for her signature line — Beverly is busier than ever. First on the itinerary is her hacienda (and studio) in Alicante, Spain, home to her seven poodles and a German shepherd. But she’ll only be home a week before jetting to China, Amsterdam, London and Thailand — and all before ringing in the new year at a birthday party in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. After that, Beverly says she will be back in New York for a week because “Spain is closed and it will be cold enough here to wear my new vintage jaguar coat.” Such delights, it seems, are inherent in her concept of “designing your whole life.”
As Beverly sips her coffee, she reflects, “It took me 60 years to be happy. One day I just woke up and thought, ‘I’m happy.’” She says she is enjoying focusing on her business, connecting with her customers via her blog, traveling the world vintage shopping and collecting designer shoes for her museum (located on her property in Alicante). She honors many great footwear designers there, including Charles Jourdan and Maud Frizon. “I had great teachers — some of the best designers and retailers in the world. Jesse Wytell at Via Spiga taught me to never let the heel define the shoe, and Roger Bromley taught me that every shoe has to be irresistible. Now I have young designers working for me and I’m trying to teach them the same things.” For Beverly, the look of the shoe in the store is the most important thing, and she has recently launched a lower-priced line called Fifi & Elvis that has the same whimsy as her eponymous collection. She says, “I’m trying to create something that is original, creative and irresistible, and design is most important. Call me blonde, but isn’t it?”
Beverly is off to see “Spamalot” in a few hours, but first we run to Levi’s to do some shopping. We try on jeans together and I hear a squeal from the other dressing room. “I’m in the same size I wore at my wedding!” She happily holds up the jeans to show me. I expect this will probably be blog material because Beverly says consumers most appreciate when she shares the real things that happen to her — such as losing her jewelry while traveling or shedding those last few pesky pounds. “I came from nothing, but I’ve had a fantastic life because I dedicated my life to having a great time. After 59 years, I finally got smart and gave up men, and my business quadrupled the next year. I can never find a better man than Casey, my business manager/partner/adviser. Together, we’ve been very successful.”