When it comes to shoes, Robert Verdi has little willpower. The celebrity style expert’s footwear collection contains more than 300 pairs — so many, he said, that he rents a storage unit in his Brooklyn, N.Y., building to house the overflow.
“I have so many shoes, it’s sick,” confessed Verdi, whose eclectic tastes range from Costume National silver sequined oxfords to beaded red wingtips from Florsheim by Duckie Brown.
But Verdi, who more recently has turned to interior design, does not plan to pare down his wardrobe. “I never purge my shoes, just my clothing,” he said. In fact, he even admitted to holding on to shoes he’s never worn. He once bought a pair of hot-pink velvet slip-ons from Christian Louboutin simply because they’d make a bold statement against a green rug in his living room. “I [intended] to wear them for entertaining at home.”
Verdi’s love affair with shoes dates back to his high school days, when he worked as a sales associate in the women’s shoe department at Bloomingdale’s in New Jersey’s The Mall at Short Hills. “I sold shoes there for 10 years. I cultivated a following,” said the 45-year-old, referring to loyal customers who appreciated his eye for style.
Footwear, though, isn’t the only accessory Verdi is passionate about. The outspoken stylist, who is rarely seen without a pair of sunglasses, now sells his own signature collection on HSN.
Here, Verdi reminisces about his most memorable shoe splurges.
Personal style: “I’m at a fashionable, four-way intersection, where James Bond, Pee-Wee Herman, Jack Skellington and the Duke of Windsor meet.”
Brands owned: Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Belgian Shoes, Bottega Veneta, Christian Louboutin, Dior, Florsheim by Duckie Brown, Gucci, Harrys of London, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Maison Martin Margiela, Pierre Hardy, Prada, Rick Owens, Salvatore Ferragamo, Thom Browne, Tod’s, Toms and YSL, among others
Style icons: “I like nefarious style — guys like Al Capone, John Gotti and Clyde Barrow. Let’s face it, I grew up in New Jersey. Who has better style than mobsters?”
Favorite fashion decade: “The ’70s — both the 1870s and 1970s. I like a corset and polyester bell-bottoms, especially when worn together.”
Most comfortable pair: “Belgian loafers because I can walk from Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge and back again without a moment of pain.”
Most uncomfortable: “I’ve never worn uncomfortable shoes. But I do have a pair of Ralph Lauren alligator loafers I purchased 25 years ago in a size 10.5. I now wear an 11.5, but once in a while I put them on to complete my Alex P. Keaton, 1980s Wall Street, ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ look and suffer for fashion’s sake.”
Biggest bargain: “If by bargain you mean full price, all my shoes were bargains.”
Priciest item: Bespoke Pierre Corthay shoes. “I ordered a two-eyelet derby in dark purple alligator. I have no idea how much they’re going to cost, and I don’t care.”
Least expensive pair: “A pair of tribal-printed burlap Toms Shoes for $50.”
Biggest regret: “A studded Louboutin sneaker for $1,500. They put a new one out every few months, and I would buy them all. So now I have $15,000 worth of the same sneaker, which makes me feel like an idiot, albeit a fabulous idiot.”
Top five men’s must-haves: Pierre Corthay derby; Belgian Shoes black suede loafer; Repetto patent leather loafer; Rick Owens sneaker; and Walter Steiger cap toe.”
Fashion don’t: “Men’s sandals have no place on this planet.”
Most cringe-worthy trend: “Flip-flops with socks. A lot of young guys wear rubber slides with socks. It looks like a trend from an asylum.”
All-time favorite pair: “Vans slip-ons made of Hermès scarves I collected and then repurposed into shoes. The 16-pair collection was done as a special makeup order by the company. It was a vanity project.”
Shoe-shopping haunts: “I don’t have a favorite store. I shop at Bally, Prada, Ferragamo, Bottega Veneta and Barneys. Also online at Mr. Porter, Luisaviaroma, Oki-Ni and Farfetch.”
One that got away: “I regret not having a pair of 1970s platforms. They’re such a piece of fashion history.”