DUBAI — Leading footwear designers had brides on their minds for a limited-edition capsule collection launching at Level Shoe District here next month.
Nicholas Kirkwood, Aquazzura, Dsquared2, Gianvito Rossi, Paul Andrew, Rupert Sanderson, Sophia Webster and Aennis Eunis created exclusive bridal versions of some of their leading styles for the Dubai-based concept retailer. The team at Level worked with the designers to develop 20 exclusive styles.
“Brides are taking more risks and stepping away from the conventional wedding shoe — Level wanted to cater to their demand for a range of innovative designs,” said Alberto Oliveros, the store’s head buyer.
The pièce de résistance of the collection is Kirkwood’s Arabian Pearl Kaleidoscope sandal, which is adorned with 600 half Arabian pearls. “When people come to me to make a bridal shoe they are looking for something a little more than the satin pump. They are looking for that unique element,” said Kirkwood, who created a romanticized version of his Kaleidoscope silhouette which debuted in his spring collection. It is the first time the designer has worked with semiprecious stones and jewelry elements.
“I love the connection with Arabian pearls from the region,” he said. “The natural purity of the pearl gives new character to the graphic and pop spirit of the shoe.” The shoe, which will be available on special order, will retail for $15,000.
“These exclusive designs will give new value to the bridal shoe. We see it becoming an heirloom, something women will consider passing down over generations,” said Rania Masri, Level Shoe District’s general manager. “Our vision is to give women an opportunity to be just as excited about the shoe as they are the ring.”
For many of the designers involved, this was a first foray into bridal design. “I pay a lot of attention to the details in a bridal shoe, like the very thin straps that delicately go around the foot or ankle, the elegant lace and last but not least, the lucky baby blue sole, because every bride needs something blue,” said Edgardo Osorio of Aquazzura, who created two styles for the collection. There is also an emphasis on comfort. “I want the bride who wears Aquazzura to dance all night long.”
Webster said when she first decided to do a bridal collection she wasn’t married, so she thought about what she would want to wear. “As the collection was being brought to life, I imagined all sorts of women slipping into shoes and feeling like a princess for that special day. With that in mind, I wanted to use really feminine touches like satin uppers, crystal heels and gemstones, all in delicate tones that would work with classic dresses and accentuate the look,” she said.
Choosing the right shoe will be part of a unique bridal service offered by Level that the retailer hopes will become part of the tradition for any bride. Stylists will meet with brides-to-be in a dedicated bridal suite where they can view the collection while being served a traditional afternoon tea. Level will deliver the bridal shoes in a special box with a note from the designer and a monogrammed silk dust bag.
For the world’s largest shoe retailer, this move into bridal presents a big market opportunity. Weddings are a major industry throughout the Gulf region. Brides in the United Arab Emirates spend an average of $80,000 for a wedding and the bridal market is growing more than 20 percent annually, according to the Al Harithy Company for Exhibitions.
“Bridal is our first-ever capsule collection so we’re looking forward to seeing it evolve. We would love to see it become a permanent offer within our mix. There is tremendous opportunity to grow this specialized footwear market regionally and globally,” said Masri.