With celebrity fans in Canada’s first lady Sophie Trudeau, Anna Paquin and Julia Stiles, there’s little to wonder what inspired Toronto-based footwear brand Zvelle’s latest collection.
For summer, the direct-to-consumer label has been rolling out a range of glam red carpet-ready pumps that incorporate stiletto heels — a first for the brand since launching in 2015.
Along with the sexy new offering, the series of five new styles includes some charming new additions for the brand — symbolic gold embellishments that represent different cultural iconography and axioms familiar to the Middle East.
“Right from the start I knew I wanted to have five charms,” Zvelle founder Elle Ayoubzadeh told Footwear News. “The number five has come to hold a special significance in my heart.”
The collection launched June 20 and continues to drop new models through the end of July, including the Cleo sandal, which debuted Wednesday. Zvelle’s Rania, Leila and Adel styles will roll out through the end of July.
Prices range from $350 to $535, available on zvelle.com. Materials include nappa leather and kid suede — all ethically sourced nearby the label’s production facility in southern Brazil.
Some of the treatments include the Hamsa hand symbol around the back zipper of the Cleo sandal — a subtle touch, and the Raina pump’s gold ankle-strap bracelet featuring several dangling charms — not intended for a wallflower.
“A big influence in my last collection was the Persian number five (“panj”), which resembles an upside down heart,” Ayoubzadeh shared. “We had a lot of fun using it in various styles. In our Soraya mules, we laser cut the panj in the upper, so its very subtle. In our Amira flats and pumps we hand-cut and hand-stitched each panj one by one so it made for a more glamorous flat that you can be taken day to night. Every one of our designs has some global influence, whether it be a memory from a place or something I read about that resonated with me.”
Ayoubzadeh breaks down the meaning behind the other four symbols:
• The eyes (A Middle Eastern symbol for protection against the evil eye): “Though this symbol is now universal, I grew up wearing it at a time it wasn’t, and that means something. I find eyes fascinating. You can tell a lot about a person from their eyes.”
• The Hamsa hand (also a Middle Eastern icon warding off bad luck): “‘Khamsa’ in arabic means five, and also the five fingers of the hands. ‘El’ in Turkish means hands, and my name is Elle. And you can’t have a Middle Eastern charm bracelet or anklet without this symbol.”
• Egyptian cat “In ancient Egypt, cats were worshipped and held in the highest esteem. They were considered symbols of grace and poise. It’s now a lucky symbol. I wanted to include this as something different and unexpected in jewelry for shoes.”
• Pyramid: “I love the idea of something holding it all together, and a pyramid is perfect as the last charm, plus it is traditional Egyptian. The pyramid symbolizes strength and energy. You can adjust the chain around to make it sit higher up or lower depending on how you wear it. I like it a little looser.”
Ayoubzadeh explained that the new looks nod today’s “cosmopolitan women” — or “global citizens,” as she likes to call them.
“The most interesting person in the room is the one with the best stories and we get our best stories from the travels where we immerse ourselves fully in a culture,” Ayoubzadeh added.