After 15 years of working as a celebrity stylist, Neil J. Rodgers should know a thing or two about shoes. Tasked with finding killer red carpet looks for celebrities like Anna Kendrick, Beyoncé, and Gugu Mbatha Raw, his work didn’t stop at just the dress (obviously). He had to find the heels to match.
But after years of seeing just how painful it was for his clients to wear these shoes, Rodgers felt the urge to do something about it. Over the summer of 2016, he launched his own collection with hybrid foam rubber cushioning at the extra-spacious toe beds in an effort to provide much-needed comfort for his harem of A-listers. Produced in a family owned factory in the Rivera Del Brenta region of Venice, Italy, the collection has become a hit. His designs, especially the sleek and simple Stella, have been spotted on Lupita Nyong’o, Mila Kunis, Daisy Ridley, and Naomie Harris. And with awards season just around the corner, you can expect to see loads of other women wearing his ultra comfortable shoes. We caught up with Rodgers to learn more about the budding collection that’s taking Hollywood by storm.
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Who is the Neil J. Rodgers woman?
She is modern and independent. While aware of trends she isn’t a slave to them. She shops for pieces to update and develop her existing, well-curated wardrobe. She is a stickler for quality and craftsmanship and appreciates comfort and good design over gimmicks.
Why did you jump from styling to shoe design?
I’ve always loved women’s shoes. The transformative effect on both appearance and demeanor of wearing beautiful, comfortable shoes is a powerful thing and it’s something I have seen firsthand with my years of styling. My aim is to create footwear that has this effect on its wearer.
What is it about your shoes that you think Hollywood has really taken to?
I think Hollywood appreciates a product that looks beautiful and modern yet feels wonderful too. My experience dressing actresses and models for the red carpet and photo shoots has been an invaluable and unique resource when knowing what women want in terms of both style and comfort from an evening shoe. I think the actresses that have worn the brand particularly appreciate the modern design, versatility, and comfort details of the collection. The placement of straps has been designed to give a feeling of stability, yet accentuate the length of the leg. The foot bed of all the closed toe styles has extra padding to cushion and disperse the pressure of the pitch of the high heel. The fabrics we use are also of the highest quality from the best tanneries and mills in Italy.
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The shoe business is fairly saturated. How do you ensure your designs stand out?
I think the collection has proven to be popular for two main reasons: the shoes are beautiful and surprisingly comfortable. Most luxury footwear brands focus solely on aesthetics and pay little or no attention to how the shoes actually feel. We wanted to set our brand apart by making comfort as important as style, without compromising the beauty of the design.
Who have you been most excited to see wear your shoes on the red carpet?
It’s a close call between Lupita Nyong’o, Daisy Ridley, and Mila Kunis; I love them all for different reasons. Lupita was so thoughtful and even posted a picture of the shoes on her Instagram account the following day. Charlize Theron, Gisele Bündchen, Kate Moss also own styles from the Fall ’16 collection so I’m very excited to see them in the brand soon too.
What are the three pairs of shoes you think every woman should have in her closet?
A classic black pump as it goes with a lot and is a timeless and powerful statement, an elegant flat for when you don’t feel like wearing heels but still want to make an impression, and a modern, high strappy (and comfortable) sandal. Something that makes you feel confident and sexy.
What are the shoes a woman should invest in and what could she go cheap on?
Invest in modern versions of classic high-heeled styles. You’ll wear them regularly and actually enjoy the experience. Go cheap on trend-driven spring/summer flat styles. They will be worn a lot and will wear out before the trend moves on to something new.