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Broussard’s ‘Whimsy’ in the West Village

Diana Broussard, a shoe designer trained in Italy, has brought a bit of the palazzo to her new 950-square-foot West Village store here.

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NEW YORK — Diana Broussard, a shoe designer trained in Italy, has brought a bit of the palazzo to her new 950-square-foot West Village store here.

With fixtures made in Florence, macramé from Vinci, crystalline-painted ceilings and a mix of antiques, mirrored vanities and modern furniture, the shop, at 22 Christopher Street, exudes European charm. Quirky touches abound, such as shoes displayed on wooden hands attached to chrome stands and necklaces hung from thick white hangers as if they were garments.

Broussard’s designs have a strong, clean aesthetic, where a well-placed bow or perfectly proportioned heel conveys a less-is-more type of sophistication. A cluster of small silver balls on top of a silk satin shoe and a patent leather boot that looks like it’s attached to a suede pump is Broussard’s way of injecting “a bit of whimsy and sophisticated quirkiness,” she said. “I’m designing shoes that I’m not finding in the market. They’re not overly designed or overly girly. They’re hipper and the heels are a bit heavier for a more urban client.” Shoes start at $370 and boots are $1,200.

The jewelry Broussard designs shares the graphic, modern sensibility of the shoes. Necklaces are made from chains mixed with resin, Plexiglas mixed with rose gold and silver plate and multichains with pearls and silver balls. There are also hammered-rose gold rings and big cuffs with embroidery. Prices range from $350 to $600.

She also designed T-shirts with trompe l’oeil necklaces, at $110. For holiday, she’ll reprise the designs in cashmere for $488. She plans to introduce handbags next season.

Broussard said she expects to do at least $750,000 in sales at the location.

She honed her skills at Calvin Klein, where she rose to design director of Collection accessories. Broussard also designed underwear, which prompted Klein to say, “‘You’re doing all the fetish products,'” she recalled. After working at Klein, Broussard moved to Paris to become director of footwear and leather goods at Christian Dior under John Galliano. She later relocated to London and Florence to design men’s and women’s shoes during Tom Ford’s tenure at Gucci.

The designer, who sells to a select group of stores such as Dover Street Market in London and Luisa in Florence, and Bergdorf Goodman, Jeffrey New York and Kirna Zabête here, felt she needed her own store to properly tell her story. “People like Manolo [Blahnik] and Christian [Louboutin] have had stores for a long time,” she said. “When you go into their stores, you see their whole vision. I want to develop my business in the proper way. It was necessary for me to show my shoes and jewelry together.”

This story first appeared in the November 20, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Broussard is giving other artists a venue to show their work. Madeline Weinrib’s rug in salmon and black anchors the room. Steve Pyke’s series of soles of shoes, which The New Yorker photographer uses as a metaphor for aging, occupy one wall. An image by Christian Coinbergh of water Op Art mounted in diamond-cut glass, and shots by fashion photographer Todd Burris and Japanese photographer Kenji Aoki, also are exhibited.

“I’ve [worked] for a lot of other designers, but this is an opportunity for me to do what I really love,” Broussard said. “This is a way for me to show my personality. There’s a certain woman who’s always bought my shoes. This store will let her find me.”

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