Footwear may not have been part of Seth Aaron Henderson’s design challenges on “Project Runway,” but as winner of the show’s seventh season, he already has some ideas on the drawing board.
“I’d do an innovative platform pump for my runway show,” Henderson told Footwear News during a recent visit to New York from his home in Vancouver, Wash. “I like the look of platforms. They’re easier to walk in because they have some stability, and the heel doesn’t have to be as high.”
Henderson may one day decide to design a footwear line, but for now he’s focused on his eponymous ready-to-wear collection, which got its start thanks to prize money from the show and will be sold on Bluefly.com. While the designer received kudos for his “Project Runway” creations, inspired by 1940s German and Soviet military looks, Henderson admitted that his personal wardrobe leans toward 1980s punk-meets-rockabilly.
“I always have the same look,” said Henderson, dressed in head-to-toe black, including a pair of Beatles-inspired boots purchased at Topman in New York. “I even go to the Safeway grocery [dressed] this way.” And, he added, he never leaves home without a tie.
As a professional stylist and designer, Henderson is in the business of dressing others. However, when it comes to his family, they’ve got a style all their own. His wife typically dresses in jeans, T-shirts and buckle-trimmed flats; his teenage daughter opts for skinny jeans, flats or Converse Chuck Taylors; and his son prefers Chucks, straight-leg jeans and hoodies.
What’s next on Henderson’s fashion agenda? According to the designer, he’d like to continue with his own label and even do a collection for Target. Or he’d also jump at the chance to work for a well-known designer label such as Christian Dior. Here, the “Runway” alum delves into some of his personal footwear picks.
Personal style: “I wear tuxedo jackets, but done in an edgy style. Today, I’m wearing a Bill Blass cashmere sport coat, but I’ve changed it with [big silver] buttons. For shoes, I like Beatle boots — [mine] are today, not vintage. I wear a lot of dress shoes, such as loafers in black alligator. They must be sleek, not chunky. I have Nike high-tops. They’re old-school in black with white swooshes. I also wear Converse Chuck Taylors. However, you would not catch me in a pair of running shoes.”
Pairs owned: “Thirty to 40. I live in a 1940s house, and I [often] purge due to a lack of closet space. I recycle my shoes. I go through them once a year, then donate them to a shelter. I do that with my clothes, as well.”
Brands owned: Armani Exchange, Christian Dior, Converse, Gucci, Kenneth Cole, Marc Ecko, Pierre Cardin, Puma, Nike, Topman and Vans. “If I like it and it’s comfortable, I buy it.”
Most uncomfortable pair: “Cheap dress shoes from Skechers and annoying rubber flip-flops. When you first put on the [flip-flops], they kill your feet.”
Favorite pair: “1940s cowboy boots from Tony Lama. I found them in a friend’s garage. They were his great-grandfather’s. He’d had them for 10 years and was going to throw them away. I tried them on, and they were mine. They looked like they’d been worn and resoled.”
Biggest shoe mistake ever: “Teva sandals. They were just ugly.”
Most spent: “A few hundred dollars. They were pointed-toe alligator loafers from Prada. I had a connection to get them. As a stylist, I get everything really cheap.”
Least spent: “Free. I get shoes at sample sales from studios. As the season ends, they recycle. When I worked at May Department Stores, they had an employee sale of about 500 pairs of prop shoes used in store shoots. They were all $5. I bought about 20 pairs. Some were never worn; others for three minutes for a picture.”
Favorite store: “I don’t have a particular favorite. When I’m in New York or Los Angeles, I go to the garment districts. The first thing I look for is shoes and sunglasses. I did go to Topman in New York with “Project Runway” contestant Jay Sario last August and bought my Beatle boots. They were $125, on sale for $50. They’re comfortable.”
Favorite look: “I like black embossed alligator loafers that are shiny. I have to have my shoes shiny. I have a thing for shiny objects. I polish my shoes a lot. I do it myself using traditional polish and a little brush. I keep them oiled, otherwise they dry up and crack, especially in the weather of the Pacific Northwest.”
I’d never be caught dead in: “White athletic shoes. I have four pairs of athletic shoes, but they’re not really sneakers. They’re hip sneakers. I have classic Converse [Chuck Taylors]. You can wear them with a suit, and they make a statement. And I have checkered Vans.”