We love vintage style wedding shoes
Posted on June 21 2020
The other day I was going through old photoshoot images as I looked for some photos to use in a blog, and it really took me back to the earlier years of the business. When we first launched we were almost exclusively known for our vintage style shoes, and although now the collection is broader you can always see our vintage inspired signature coming through.
So what is it that makes a shoe look 'vintage', and just why do we love it so much? Today I wanted to look at some of the key features we use here at Rachel Simpson to create our distinctive vintage inspired style.
1. The Wondrous T-Bar
Okay so I'm going to start with the biggie, the wondrous, joyous t-bar (or t-strap for our American brides over the pond). I love a t-bar. Proper, unadulterated, shout out loud LOVE them! I'm not even sure where this love came from but one of the very first sketches I did when I decided to launch my own brand was of Mimi, and this well loved style is still in the collection today.
T-bars were very popular in the 1920s, which was of course a very glamorous era of Flapper girls and the Charleston, so there is something almost 'dance shoe' like about them even today. People often think our bestselling Ginger shoe is actually a dance shoe and you can see why. I actually based the design of Ginger on a typical dancehall t-bar, and I can tell you from personal experience it really is a great shoe to dance in!
2. Elegant Art Deco Detailing
Art Deco originated at the beginning of the 20th Century in Europe- most noticeably Paris- but didn't truly take off until after the first World War so it's another feature which tends to be seen as a 1920s style. Art Deco buildings feature sleek, geometric designs with gorgeous decorative details incorporating various exotic motifs such as chevrons, zigzags, and of course two of our favourites, the chic, semi-circular shell and the elegant fan shape.
The fan and shell motifs are recurrent in the Rachel Simpson collection and are one of the features which make our shoes so recognisable. It's a really elegant look and works really well with contrasting materials such as leather and suede, as well as with metallic detailing as you'll see in a number of our shoes.
3. Intricate Patterns and Delicate Stitchwork
You can spot a Rachel Simpson shoe a mile off, but if this were the 1920s or 30s that definitely wouldn't be the case. Why? Because back then all shoes had gorgeously intricate patterns and were made with such attention to detail that every one was a work of art. Nowadays shoes come in all shapes and sizes, and many are focussed so much on price they forget about the art of traditional shoe making.
Just before I started the business back in 2008, I have a distinct memory of finding a pair of very worn but striking 1920s Mary-Jane shoes in a vintage shop. They later went on to inspire the shape of our beautiful Gardenia shoes, but at the time they were one of the factors which prompted me to finally go for it. I said to my friend, who was with me at the time- just look at that stitching, at how delicate everything is! That's what I want to create- beautiful shoes made like they used to be. So that's what I did and what still sets us apart today.
4. Antique Metallics and Colour Palette
There were a lot of metallic shoes in the twenties and thirties, but it wasn't a bright, garish tone more soft, muted tones of gold, silver, bronze and pewter. Metallic shoes are of course extremely versatile so this meant they could be worn with any outfit (cue gorgeous drop waisted beaded flapper dress!). We try and echo that with the metallic leathers we use which have a slightly old, antique finish- there's a big difference between a smooth, shiny gold leather and the ones we use, trust me! We use this same type of leather for all the delicate metallic binding on many of our shoes to, to make sure they have an authentic vintage look rather than being too shiny and modern.
Similarly we're super careful about the colours we select for our shoes. Rather like the Farrow & Ball paint colour chart (swoon!), we want every single colour in the Rachel Simpson collection to be authentic, subtle and elegant so we take our time to find the perfect shades. One example of this is the new mint suede we introduced with flat shoe Willow this season- whilst we've had mint leather in the collection, would you believe it's actually taken us quite a long time to find the perfect mint in suede? It was worth it though :)
Click here to see a selection of some of our classic vintage inspired styles, and don't forget to show us how you style them!