Terry de Havilland’s flamboyant shoe designs made him the rock’n’roll cobbler of the 1970s. He’s designed shoes for Cheryl Cole and counts Kate Moss as one of his friends. Chief Reporter Katie Davies chats to him following the opening of his Newcastle-based store.
Last year Terry de Havilland’s signature Margaux shoe - a five inch wedge - turned 40.
It was the shoe he designed in 1973 using his dad’s 1940s lasts and a shoe that’s been worn by stars from Marianne Faithfull to Kate Moss.
The 76-year-old earned his reputation by making shoes for the likes of David Bowie, the Beatles and Cher. He began his career helping his dad cut leather when he was five and, in 1960, after a brief spell as an actor, he returned home to join the family business.
After experimenting with some designs, his big break came in 1964 when a pair of shoes he had made were spotted on a photo shoot.
Looking back on his career, Terry said: “I opened my first store ‘Cobblers to the World’ in Chelsea in the ‘70s and it was a huge success.
“In 2006 I was nominated as Accessory Designer of the year at the British Fashion awards, and in 2010 I was awarded with a Drapers lifetime achievement award for my contribution to footwear design over the last 50 years.
“My clients include Ana Matronic, Kate Moss, Alison Goldfrapp, The Jagger clan, Kelly Osborne, Sienna Miller, and Cara Delevigne to name but a few.”
This summer, in a brave move to add to his flagship base just off London’s famous Carnaby Street, De Havilland opened his store on Jesmond’s Clayton Road.
The designer has more stores planned as the brand continues to grow globally but the shop in the North East is just his second UK outlet.
De Havilland tells me he has strong links to the North East, and his wife Liz, who was born in Newcastle, introduced him to the city.
“She once showed me round when we were up visiting her parents and I absolutely loved the place,” he said. “Our online and commercial operations have been operating in the North East for some time now.
“Opening a store up in Newcastle seemed like a sensible move to make. Newcastle is a vibrant city and will play a key role in the expansion of Terry de Havilland. My studio still remains in East London, where I design the shoes.”
The new store stocks De Havilland’s main line collection - including the iconic Margaux wedge - as well as special offers and samples exclusive to the North East, a place, he says, that took him by surprise.
“The region has a real buzz to it that I didn’t realise existed until I visited,” he said. “It has a great friendly atmosphere that is so welcoming whenever I visit.
“I like to think my shoes are timeless,” he said. “Fashion is all about trends that keep coming in and out of fashion, but my shoes stay throughout.”
De Havilland made his first pair of shoes in 1960 and his career kicked-off in 1964 when his designs featured in the then-fashion magazine Queen.
In 1969, he went on to design his coloured snakeskin three-tiered wedge - which quickly earned him fans in the shape of Bianca Jagger and Bette Midler and he opened his first store, called Cobblers to the World, in 1972.
During the Seventies, he created Tim Curry’s shoes for the Rocky Horror Show as well as putting his own spin on the stiletto for Zandra Rhodes.
And by 1980, De Havilland was making over 800 pairs of shoes a day for worldwide sale.
He met his wife Liz in 1990 and the Terry de Havilland name was beginning to crop up again on the fashion landscape. He created the shoes for Paco Rabanne and Anna Sui’s runway shows in 1997 as well as designing the footwear for BAFTA-award winning film The Velvet Goldmine and producing Angelina Jolie’s boots for the Tomb Raider film.
The same year, he opened up Cobblers to the World in Camden - where customers included Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese. In 2002, he decided to close the store and focus on re-launching the brand.
Looking back on his designs over the years, Terry says: “My favourite has to be the iconic Margaux wedge.
“I first designed this shoe in 1973 and it is still loved and adored today. It is our best seller and features in every collection again and again.
“Aside from that, I have had some great fun designing many amazing couture shoes for clients, such as the David Bowie wedge.”
However, when it comes to wearing shoes he admits it’s his festival boots - designed for singer Martin Gore for the Depeche Mode World Tour last year - that are his first choice.
“We did a small run of them for some clients last year and they will be in the line next Spring,” added De Havilland.
Today, some of the country’s most influential celebrities continue to wear the Terry de Havilland brand, including Kate Moss, who had a pair of shoes specifically-designed for her wedding.
Speaking about the model, he said: “Kate is one of the nicest people I have met and she has always supported what I have done. I always feel honoured that she wears my shoes!”