We're back at the cashmere-chic Round Hill Hotel & Villas, having braved the early torrential downpour, to attend the property's 60th anniversary church service at the Hopewell Baptist Church. We're catching up with bespoke shoe designer Vanessa Noel.
Noel, a Round Hill 'baby' — she was introduced to the property at the age of five by her socialite parents Dr Thomas and Emma Ginley — spends as much of the winter season as possible at Cottage # 12 Humming Hill, which was once owned by the legendary Oscar Hammerstein who wrote the score to The Sound of Music. "It's my favourite movie," she shares as we both burst into song... The hills are alive... and collapse in peals of laughter.
As the discussion moves back to shoes, including the pair of patent leather Jamaica Irie which was eagerly snatched up at last evening's Hanover Charities Annual Fund-raising Event, there's no doubt that the woman who graduated from Cornell University with a degree in Fine Arts and Architecture and then moved to New York City, where she launched her bespoke shoe line in 1987, is passionate about what she does, even as she contemplates the possibilities of the Shopping Network.
My shoe obsession commenced... I have always had an obsession for shoes even as a young child.
My very first collection was... all about the proportions of the shoes and heels, very architectural. I used all exotic skins: alligator, ring lizard and even fish.
My inspiration for this was... luxury and beauty. I needed to create something gorgeous and glamorous that looked spectacular and rich when being worn.
I am still excited to see every collection... After 25 years I still never tire of seeing my vision and my designs come to life.
I knew I had made the right decision when...
I passionately love designing shoes. When I felt and heard the reactions of my clients, I knew I had made the right decision to create beautiful, glamorous footwear.
The first celeb to wear my shoes was...
Wow! After 25 years it's difficult to remember who was the first celebrity to wear my shoes. Maybe Princess Diana or Patti Labelle.
My reaction was... I was thrilled. It was an unbelievable feeling to have a world-renowned woman in shoes not only with my name in them, but also that I had brought to reality.
Who else wears your shoes?
Oprah, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Whitney Houston (now deceased), Halle Berry, Hillary Clinton, Mary J Blige, Bette Midler..... there have been so many.
My shoes are a must-have because... I design each and every pair to be something that I would wear. Because of my background in architecture I understand the structural elements of a shoe. I design nothing but the highest-quality, fashion-forward, structurally correct women's shoes, which makes them beyond comfortable. Once you have your first pair you are a devotee.
For 2013/14 one can look forward to...
My collections are always sexy and elegant at the same time. I design shoes to enhance a woman. 2013 is all about the intricate details, Swarovski crystals and textures that I have mixed and incorporated into the shoes. Sparkly dark grey and purple ostrich, satin, and colourful fur are all part of the flirty glam this winter.
The bespoke black, green and gold pair of shoes placed on auction at the Sugar Cane Ball 2013 — Hanover Charities Annual Fund-raising Event is called... I named these shoes Jamaica Irie, and have made several pairs that have been auctioned off, with all the proceeds going to the Hanover Charities, which I am very proud to be a part of.
The most expensive pair of shoes designed by me cost... My stretch alligator, over-the-knee boots sell for US$28k. My clients have bought them in multiple heel heights and colours. Once you own a pair you can't live without them.