Kathy Griffin just wants to be at the top of the Hollywood heap.
And for the comedian, who splits her time between standup tours and starring on her Bravo TV show, “My Life on the D-List,” that means hitting the red carpet in style.
“If you’re trying to impress people,” she said, “there’s just something about a Gucci pump that screams money.”
Griffin has spent more than a decade mocking celebrities — not even Oprah has been able to escape her sharp tongue — but she makes it no secret that she wants to be part of the group she mocks. And to help the 5-foot-3-inch redhead catch the attention of the paparazzi, Griffin and stylist Robert Verdi have stocked the floor-to-ceiling closet in her Hollywood Hills, Calif., home with nearly 100 heels from the likes of Christian Louboutin and Dolce & Gabbana.
“D-List” makes its fifth-season debut on Bravo tonight, and Griffin — who has nabbed two Emmy Awards for the show — is back with her irreverent brand of comedy, living on the outskirts of Hollywood high society. But don’t expect to see too many sky-high heels on the set. When Griffin isn’t hosting an awards show, posing for the press or making a late-night talk-show appearance, she’s more likely found rocking a pair of sneakers from Nike or one of the top luxe brands.
“I have a pair of Gucci sneakers that are so obnoxious because they say Gucci all across the back with the Gucci stripe,” she said. “But I’ve worn those probably 300 times.”
Griffin recently took some time out to talk with Footwear News about her most humbling shoe moment, spoiling friends with her hand-me-downs and tips for staying comfortable after standing for hours in 5-inch heels.
Oldest pair: Dr. Martens from the 1980s
Personal shoe style: “I’m a bad, tired drag queen [when I’m] in heels. I can wear them for an hour or two, but then I want to be in my comfortable shoes.”
Shoe buying strategy: She stocks up when she finds a style that fits. “When I find something comfortable, I buy them in every color.”
How do you know if something is hot? “It’s whatever my stylist tells me. Look, you’ve got to get yourself a good gay to tell you what to do. I don’t think heterosexuals should be making these decisions for themselves. I know I don’t.”
Biggest A-list influence: “I definitely have a lot of Louboutins because that’s what Oprah likes, and I do whatever Oprah tells me.”
Most humbling shoe moment: Two years ago, Griffin bought a few pairs of Skechers and was thrilled to have found comfortable flats with a fashionable flair. “But then I opened a magazine and saw they were the official shoe of Ashlee Simpson. [I’m] 20 years older than [her], and it was like, ‘Oh, great. I have shoes that every high schooler wears.’”
Do you have a hard time parting with shoes? “I always think I should give some away to the [thrift store], but that’s [tough] when you have a pair of fancy schmancy shoes, like Jimmy Choo or Dolce & Gabbana, that you’ve only worn twice. It’s bad, but you don’t really feel like throwing them in the Goodwill bag.”
So do you have a lot of shoes in your closet you never wear? “I’ve probably done hundreds of shoe giveaways to friends who [wear size] 6 1/2 or 7. And oh yeah, they are pretty happy.”
Best shoe advice she’s ever gotten: “[Comedian] Sandra Bernhard once told me a great thing. I asked what I could wear to get off the worst-dressed list, and she said [I’d be fine if I got] a nice pair of jeans, a Prada shirt and a Gucci shoe.”
Has that gotten you off the worst-dressed list? “No. Nothing will. But I went out and bought Gucci pumps in every color.”
Biggest shoe style influence: Her mom. “It’s her fault I want to be in sneakers all day. I’ve never seen my mom in heels in my life — ever. And you know what? She’s smarter than any A-lister. She’s never had any back problems, and she’s never fallen down.”
Most comfortable pair: Plain, white Nike walking shoes that Griffin puts on about every day. “I wear these the most, and [Verdi] hates them. He calls them my ‘lesbian nurse shoes.’ But I have to tell you, I feel as content as a lesbian nurse on a good day.”
Most uncomfortable pair: Suede Salvatore Ferragamo platform booties. “They give me a ridiculous amount of height, but I feel like I’m on stilts and could go down at any moment, like one of those 14-year-old Romanian runway models.”
Favorite stage shoes: Vinyl boots from her days on the TV show “Suddenly Susan.” “I had to get them cut down to ankle length because I have freakishly wide calves. They have a rubber platform, and I can stand in them for hours. I’ve had the shoe repair guy rebuild them over and over.”
Red-carpet shoe tip: Wear a long dress that goes all the way to the floor and switch to sneakers or flats for the after party. “Wearing heels on the red carpet is one thing, but when you go to the parties, people don’t really even look at your feet. Everyone is drunk.”
Celebrity inspiration: Sarah Jessica Parker. “I wish I was her in general, but I did hear her say she can wear [high] shoes all day and run down the street in heels. I wish I had her foot resilience.”