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Better known by the name of her celebrated style blog, The Man Repeller, Leandra Medine pontificates online about all things fashion. And in her writing and wardrobe, shoes are particularly prominent. (She's also penning a book, slated to be published next year, in which she promised that footwear will have its own chapter.)
"It's a weird relationship," Medine told Footwear News at her apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where she stood in front of her small but meticulously organized shoe closet. Medine was preparing to move to a new home with her husband this summer, but the packing had not yet begun and every shoe was in its place. "Ultimately, shoes are just a really fun mode of escapism for a woman. The higher the heel, the more fantasy is put into the shoe."
Medine, who started The Man Repeller in 2010, has amassed a collection of more than 100 pairs of shoes. Her closet is "busting at the seams," as she put it, with everything from basic sneakers to highly detailed stilettos from such labels as Christian Louboutin, Proenza Schouler, Michael Kors, Isabel Marant and Acne.
Medine even has her first pair — tiny pink lace-up ballet flats — immortalized in a gold frame, proof that her fascination with footwear started early in life. "The thing that is great about shoes is that you don't have to be a certain size for them to look good. They always fit you," she said. "There's something about expensive footwear that makes a woman feel so special in a way that an expensive dress just doesn't. My mom always said,'Invest your money in shoes and handbags, and you can improvise the rest with meager means.'"
Most "man-repellent" pairs: Six London spiked booties (designed by Medine), Charlotte Olympia raffia platform wedge sandals, and Alexander Wang heels with red fox fur tufts and leather flaps
First footwear obsession: Steve Madden. "Before I could fit into his shoes, I was miserable. I remember the first pair I bought. I was about 12, and I had finally become a size 5. I saved up $73 for these Steve Madden shoes that I really wanted. It took me two months, but I did it. I bought them, and it was magic."
Brands of the moment: "A lot of my favorite shoes are Proenza Schouler, and I like Del Toro a lot. I love Dries Van Noten."
Favorite pairs: "Right now, it's a Nicholas Kirkwood for Peter Pilotto [sandal with beaded floral details and Lucite heel]. I spent much more money than I should have on those, so I can't afford another pair until next season. My favorite shoes of all time are a pair from Alexander Wang. I got them the summer I started The Man Repeller, and I had to beg my dad to buy them for me at Barneys. They were the only shoes I had that whole summer. I love them, and they are so comfortable. Actually, I'm kidding. They're not comfortable."
Best sneaker: "I love Superga. It's a European fashion sneaker — what's better than that?"
Storage strategy: "Because the closet is wide and I can't see all the way in when I open it, I typically put the stuff I know I'm not going to wear as much to the sides, and the things that are in top rotation go in the middle. Also, I have to keep it neat."
Most expensive pair: "Christian Louboutin [heels] that retail for about $3,000, but I didn't buy them. I could never spend that much on a pair of shoes."
Lowest priced: "Probably my Supergas. Those are like $50 a pair. I also wear a lot of Ha vaianas flip-flops."
Worst footwear trend: "Leopard-print shoes. I hate leopard print so much. The leopard-print strappy platform is such a trendy shoe, but it's such a dated trend."
Shoe-shopping destinations: Barneys New York, Net-a-porter.com and Mytheresa.com. "All the Isabel Marant shoes that you can't find here, you can find [on Mytheresa.com]. I'm also a big Yoox.com shopper."
Celebrity shoe idol: "I like the shoes Alexa Chung wears. We have similar styles. She's into toddler dressing, where you look like a little girl or boy, and the shoes sort of speak to that aesthetic."
Buying strategy: "I rarely buy shoes at full price. I'm really good at waiting for sales. I don't care what season shoes are from; they're still new to me."