Inside the Making of Billy Porter’s Custom Swarovski-Studded Heels at the Tony Awards

Billy Porter made a major statement in support of women’s reproductive rights at the 2019 Tony Awards Sunday night.

The “Pose” actor, who made waves at the Met Gala last month, hit the red carpet at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in a custom red velvet look created by New York label Celestino Couture. The design used the stage curtain of “Kinky Boots,” which Porter notably won the Tony Award for best actor in a musical for his role as Lola in the Broadway hit in 2013.

The 49-year-old performer told The Hollywood Reporter that the train of the gown was meant to subtly symbolize a uterus, as the issue of abortion is a huge debate in the US right now. “Women’s rights are under attack right now,” Porter explained. “I’m an advocate for all who are disenfranchised. None of us are free until we’re all free!”

Celestino Couture, Orel Brodt shoes, billy porter, tony awards red carpet,
Billy Porter wearing a custom Celestino Couture dress with hand-painted Orel Brodt shoes featuring Swarovski stones.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

His shoes were designed by Orel Brodt to go with Porter’s head-turning ensemble. “Billy wanted his look to make a statement for “empowering women’s reproductive rights.” So, I wanted the shoes to compliment the outfit while being a statement in themselves,” Brodt told FN via email today.

Billy Porter's custom Orel Brotd shoes
Billy Porter’s custom Orel Brotd shoes.
CREDIT: Courtesy

Regarding her design process, Brodt revealed her first action was finding shoes in Billy’s size. Once that was complete, the next step was bringing some sketches for Billy to choose from. “Of course, he picked the highest, most fabulous heels,” she said. The Miami-born designer then hand-painted one of her signature Orel Brodt Designs characters on clear PVC and surrounded her with various flowers.

Billy Porter's custom Orel Brotd shoes
Billy Porter’s custom Orel Brotd shoes.
CREDIT: Courtesy

She further explained: “I used the inside heel of the shoe as another canvas so that when he took off the train there should be a statement as he walked away. I layered a variety of reds, pinks, and hints of white to make the artwork pop off the Lucite.”

Brodt, who worked with Celestino Couture and Billy’s stylist Sam Ratelle throughout the process, was also able to utilize donated Swarovski stones for Billy’s shoes. “[That] allowed me to add another layer or dimension and sparkle to the fantasy.” She used three types of red, pink and champagne stones to wrap the front and create an ombré effect of the heel.

Billy Porter's custom Orel Brotd shoes
Billy Porter’s custom Orel Brodt shoes.
CREDIT: Courtesy

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