Red carpet shoes often call to mind glittery strappy sandals and nude stilettos; the objective of the footwear to make the subject as tall, long and lean as possible. It’s a well-known recipe for a traditional type of glamour, but sometimes it feels a bit cookie cutter from one star to the next.
Julia von Boehm does not subscribe to this formula. The celebrity stylist has had plenty of A-list clients on her roster, from Nicole Kidman and Uma Thurman to Storm Reid and Kristen Stewart. They all come to her for something different; for an editorial point of view (von Boehm was fashion director at InStyle for nearly five years and in magazines for even longer). In other words, the stylist is not churning out the conventionally “pretty” looks.
The stylist’s unique viewpoint is also apparent in her new collaboration with Paris-based, responsibly-sourced footwear brand Nomasei. Von Boehm teamed up with co-founders Paule Tenaillon et Marine Braquet to develop a capsule that is focused on the loafer. With a squarish toe and chunky heel, the shoe comes in two heights and alternates between styles that pop with color blocking or are completely decked out in crystals; combinations that are meant to be dressed up or down and suggest that there are no rules for day or night (or day-to-night) dressing.
FN caught up with von Boehm at a Paris Fashion Week dinner to hear more about the collab, which is now available.
How did you connect with Nomasei?
I really fell in love with the shoes without even thinking of any collaboration. I thought they were amazing, so for every shoot or fitting that I did, I would pull them. I had been looking for something like that for a long time.
So it became a thing, and then I found out through a friend of mine, someone who I had studied fashion design with at L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, was also friends with Paule and Marine. So in a way it became even more interesting to me because I knew mutual friends and I wanted to support them even more.
How did the collaboration come about?
In a very organic way it started. [At first] I would tell them when I was going to Los Angeles for fittings and what I needed. I would ask them if they could make certain shoes and send to me. They were always very efficient about satisfying my last minute needs — last minute not because I’m disorganized but because of the nature of what the business entails. I knew that I could always count on them. And the shoes always make everything look chic.
JVB x Nomasei Trench loafer, $480.
What do you love about the shoes?
It’s really the style that I love, I have always been very into men’s fashion. I think a men’s touch on women can make a red carpet look much cooler, I’m not as frilly, I like to make a woman look very strong. And I think sometimes a little stiletto might not give that vibe. So I am always looking for something that says strength and not just fragility — which is important, too. I like the two things together, the feminine and the masculine and the contrast.I think that makes a woman sexier and I think it makes a woman feels more confident. There are certain things, like a tie or a loafer, they make me more confident.
How do you find and work with brands for red carpet dressing?
I like to work with brands that maybe aren’t beginning on the red carpet but to see how you can elevate them just a tiny bit so that they will be accepted on the red carpet in a way.
With this collab, I love that if you wear them casually, you can wear the orange one to the office, and then you can wear the sparkly one at night.
JVB x Nomasei Nono crystal loafer, $610.
What advice do you give your clients on choosing and wearing shoes on the red carpet or to an important event?
In a way, it all depends on the look. When you have something like a Helmut Newton tuxedo moment, it’s very masculine, and then I would go for a much more feminine shoe. But very often you have these very pretty, very feminine looks and if you want to tweak them a tiny touch, I think the shoe is one of the easiest ways to do that, with makeup as well. Also that they can walk well in the shoe. Very often they might be feeling very fragile on a heel. It does not help the attitude.
I just always try to make sure that the client feels very comfortable and confident in the shoes, and that it goes beyond just the visual aspects. It’s about the practical aspects. For example if I’m dressing someone for Milan Fashion Week, I’m thinking about the cobblestone streets there, it’s the knowledge I have of the cities, I really try to put myself into their shoes – literally. In a way it really depends on the environment.
I think the women I dress just want to be confident, comfortable and real, and still look stunning And that’s why I believe in a shoe that dresses something up on anyone. It could be denim and a t-shirt and you have those shoes and the socks. I can see people are always looking at my shoes now. I don’t have to worry too much about the outfit anymore!
What changes have you seen lately on the red carpet and in celebrity dressing?
I have always been different, but now it finally feels like others are [catching up] too. I like to be efficient, I like to be edited, I like to have a clear idea and not to fuss around. I believe when I have a vision for someone and when I have an idea that feels right, you can get much further instead of giving tons of options. At this point in my career, after 23 years, I know what I want. I think now people are more open to trusting the people who have this experience. I also I think about the carbon footprint of it all. I don’t want to ship around lots of clothes just in case. I would rather think before, edit and then come up with something that is really solid instead of trying to figure it out once all of the clothes have been shipped. It’s a lot of traveling, a lot of money. It’s much more efficient for the brands. So I have always thought that way but I feel like finally I have found clients that think alike.