View Slideshow

NEW YORK — Scooping up clusters of snakeskin pumps and pony hair booties, Rachel Roy scoured the shelves that housed her new footwear collection like someone on a mission.

This story first appeared in the January 31, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“Here’s the thing about me and shoes,” the designer said, stopping herself for a moment, “I really feel like it’s the one item that, no matter how much you make, it is worth saving your pennies for.”

From atop her luminous new showroom on the 21st floor that is just steps from Times Square, it seems an odd juxtaposition for Roy to be talking about making ends meet.

But the designer, wearing an all-black ensemble consisting of a blazer, skirt and blouse that she paired with dark Tom Ford glasses and black-and-white heeled oxfords from her new collection, pointed out that her days of scrounging are still fresh in her mind.

To keep it distinct from Rachel Rachel Roy, the diffusion apparel and accessories line that she launched for Macy’s in 2009, Roy has created a separate designer line, called Rachel Roy, for her new footwear collection.

Set to hit stores in August, Roy’s fall shoe collection will range from just less than $200 to $600 and include about 30 styles. Flats will retail for between $195 and $250 and pumps will range from $225 to $325. Booties will cost between $325 and $425 and boots will retail from $450 to $600.

Materials for the collection include Napa and box leather, kid skin suede, calf, snake, pony hair and glitter. Roy’s designer inspiration is Manolo Blahnik, the man who not only worked on the first six seasons of shoes for her show at New York Fashion Week, but also served as a mentor during that period.

Although Roy’s own collection is more “classic with a twist,” she nods to Blahnik by mixing materials and creating textured looks that incorporate wool, suede and water snake. She also combines neons and other bold colors with animal prints, polka dots and gingham.

“I don’t want shoes unless they are strong and sexy. I don’t want them to be just strong or just sexy,” offered Roy. “My collection is just that — strong and sexy. It represents the woman I want to be.”

The balance between strong and sexy lies in the details. For instance, a men’s-inspired oxford shoe will incorporate a heel, or a boot will contrast heavier materials like box leather with lighter materials like patent leather.

While this all may seem somewhat minute, these details have been swirling in Roy’s head for nearly seven years. Even before The Jones Group Inc. acquired the Rachel Roy license when it bought a 50 percent equity stake in the company in 2008, Roy has been plotting a shoe line.

“Designer shoes are one of the categories I’ve wanted to do but I was unwilling to do it until I felt I could really do it right,” she said, adding that she hopes this line will help set the tone for footwear at her contemporary Rachel Rachel Roy collection, which includes shoes and clothing targeting a younger, contemporary consumer.