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Omelle Aims for Luxury Footwear

Two young female designers, Cherise Angelle and Nicole LaFave, have big plans for their luxury footwear line.

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Luxury footwear is a category dominated by male designers — think Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo — but Cherise Angelle and Nicole LaFave hope to give the guys a run for their money.

Angelle, 28, and LaFave, 27, have launched Omelle, a women’s shoe line for spring. Omelle’s point of distinction lies in its off-kilter styles such as sculptural wedge soles and corset-like lace-up sandals.

“We want to offer a range of everyday, luxury shoes for women with a fresh perspective on design,” said LaFave, the creative director. “It’s sophisticated, but playful and quirky. The styles have a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor to them.”

The name, pronounced “ahm-elle,” is derived from the letters of the two designers’ names.

Angelle and LaFave met in May 2007 when both were pursuing second careers in the footwear design program at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles. Angelle, president of the Los Angeles-based brand, was a recruiting and marketing director for a law firm who wanted to do something more creative. LaFave had been a graphic designer. The two found backers to finance the line, and began it in January.

The Italian-made shoes are architectural in shape and with leather uppers in muted tones such as nude, black and varying shades of gray. The metal Chevron heel with cutouts was inspired by the zigzag shapes of jersey knits, and a boot-sandal with a knee-high leather patch was inspired by aprons and shin guards worn by soccer players.

Prices for the collection range from $500 to $1,545, at retail. The line has been picked up by Capital, in Charlotte, N.C., Victoria’s in Baton Rouge, La., ShopBop.com and a few others. The designers will also offer the collection at the Premiere Classe trade show in Paris this month.

Angelle and LaFave anticipate first-year sales in the low millions of dollars.

The brand isn’t limiting itself to footwear. There are plans to launch handbags as soon as next year, and designs on eyewear and fragrance. Angelle and LaFave also intend to start subbrands under the name Angelle + LaFave, including knitwear and jewelry.

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