A self-described shoe lover, London-based Middlemass — who has shot for magazines such as Vogue, Elle, InStyle, Glamour and GQ — curated a collection of her most striking shots of fanciful footwear from around the world for a new book, aptly called “It’s All About Shoes.” Published last month by teNeues, the book showcases 300 showstopping styles, spotted on the streets of major fashion capitals including New York, Paris, London, Milan, Berlin and Copenhagen.
Describing her creative process in the book’s introduction, Middlemass writes: “When deciding who and what to shoot, I am not necessarily interested in the latest designs. Essentially, I am looking for something that stands out from the crowd, something outside the realm of ordinary.”
Here, Middlemass talks with Footwear News about the inspiration behind her book, the best spots for fashion watching and why women love shoes.
FN: Why did you decide to create a book focused exclusively on shoes?
Suzanne Middlemass: I am a big lover of accessories, but shoes are my true vice. Most people outside of the industry rarely get the opportunity to see what crazy shoe designs are being worn by the fashionistas of the world. So having amassed a large collection of shoe photographs over the years, I decided it would be a great opportunity to show what is out there. I want the book to be inspiring: Everyone has the ability to be creative when it comes to their own style, so why not start with your feet? Plus, it is amazing what an eccentric pair of shoes will do for your confidence.
FN: Which city around the world has the best shoe style?
SM: It’s between Milan and London. Whether it’s day or night in Milan, outfits always look glamorous. Personally, I love Italian shoes. They are invariably quirky, fun and elegant. However, London has a diverse range of styles. In one street, you can spot punk boots, 1970s platforms, bejeweled sneakers and designer heels.
FN: What are the best types of places for shoe watching?
SM: If I am out shooting and looking for some great shoes, I like to hang out at a high-end shopping mall, head to a quirky area of town or stroll down a street with lots of chic shops. Fashion events also are a good place to shoe watch — it doesn’t cost anything, and you get to see some amazing styles.
FN: What are your favorite shots from the book?
SM: As a street-style photographer, I aim to capture moments, whether it’s a girl running across the snow in some awe-inspiring heels or two women standing and chatting while wearing identical shoes. My favorite shots from the book are the images that encapsulate these types of moments.
FN: Were you surprised by some of the over-the-top shoes that women were daring enough to wear?
SM: No, I just found it inspiring. A stylist once said to me, “When you are getting dressed in the morning, ask yourself whether you’re pushing your style to its limits, whether you’re challenging your fashion sense.” A fun pair of shoes can really elevate your style from cool to characterful.
FN: Of all the pairs featured in the book, which one would you most like to wear yourself?
SM: I absolutely adore the multicolored block-heel shoes [pictured below]. They are by [Spanish designer] Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada and are modeled in the photo by her daughter, Cósima Ramírez. I love the shoes’ unique design — I have never seen a pair like them since.
FN: Why do you think so many women are obsessed with shoes?
SM: Shoes are a feel-good accessory. They make us walk taller and feel sexier. Whether you love flats, sneakers, boots or heels, wearing your favorite pair can be a real confidence-booster. They can be an extension of ourselves and reflect our mood and individuality. From classic styles to tomboyish brogues, our feet can be sleek and chic, adorned with jewels or decorated with frills and all the trimmings — how can you not be obsessed with shoes?
FN: Most of the women in your shots are anonymous, but can you share any details on some of the notable fashion insiders who appear among the book’s pages?
SM: The reason the shoe wearers remain anonymous is because I wanted to emphasize style and not the individual personalities. [But I can reveal that] the book incorporates editors, designers, stylists, bloggers and models including Miroslava Duma, Eva Chen, Sarah Harris, Anna Dello Russo, Gilda Ambrosio, Harley Viera-Newton, Kate Foley, Caroline Issa, Natasha Goldenberg, Susie Bubble, Caroline Vreeland and Doina Ciobanu, to name but a few.