Here’s What Happens When Parisian Showgirls Design Shoes

The dancing girl emoji could have been made for the stylish duo behind new shoe label Dondoks.

While footwear is now their day job (with a spot of modeling thrown in), brand founders Carmen Cerrillo and Charlotte Janaïna Calixte have a parallel career as the star dancers at Paris cabaret institution Lido on the famed Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

Cerrillo and Calixte have been friends for about a decade. They met while working together at Lido and conceived the idea for Dondoks (“dondoka” means “lady of leisure” in Portuguese) two years ago, eventually launching for spring ’18.

Cerrillo recalled that she was looking for summery flats for a vacation but couldn’t find anything she liked. “It was the season of the platform,” she said, joking that that’s the last style either of them needs, as they both hover around 5-foot-9.

With its punchy colors, handwoven macramé details and organza embellishments, Dondoks is a fusion of the girls’ heritage — Cerrillo is Mexican and French, and Calixte is Brazilian — with a nod to the world of dance.

Dondoks’ Frida pointy-toe flat with ruffle detail.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

The line is made primarily in Porto Alegre, Brazil, at the same factory used by Sophia Webster. “They usually only deal in much larger runs of hundreds of thousands,” said Calixte, “but when they saw our samples, they decided to believe in us.”

The label is in the vanguard of a new wave of brands eschewing the traditional seasonal production calendar. Instead, the founders are producing only two collections a year, for spring and resort.

The collection of flats and sandals retails for between $325 and $385. Retailers so far include 5 Createurs at Paris’ Printemps department store, Wizsole in Korea and Luv It in New York.

Dondoks’ Lety sandal in blue and emerald.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

In addition to their dance and entrepreneur duties, the duo have growing modeling résumés. Calixte walked in Jean Paul Gaultier’s last show after he spotted her at Lido, while Cerrillo has starred in the designer’s Kocorico perfume campaign as well as in spots for Chopard and Carolina Herrera. Both women were also photographed for Chanel’s upcoming Chance fragrance campaign coming this year.

However, when it comes to casting the legs for their own campaign shots, Cerrillo and Calixte took a break and roped in some of their fellow Lido colleagues. “We’re all about exploiting our friends,” said Calixte.

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