According to a research conducted by the University of Kansas you can judge 90% of a stranger’s personal characteristics just by looking at their shoes. That proves how shallow people truly are! But regardless of judgmental behaviors, shoes are a genuine art and deserve to shine on a catwalk, pedestal or your slender feet.
The carefully selected brands on this list will make you look like a celebrity not only on Instagram, but also wherever you walk. You can shop online for all of them. The methodology used to rank the best shoe designers whose exquisite and luxury-fueled creations have captured the souls and wallets of millions of women around the world is as follows:
The brand or designer must specialize primarily in shoe-making/shoe design, and accessories or handbags.
The brand or designer must have a long-standing tradition or experience of at least 1 decade in crafting high-end or haute-couture shoes.
The brand or designer must have an idiosyncratic or recognizable style.
The brand’s or designer’s shoes must have been worn by celebrities or famous brand ambassadors.
As such, from the get-go, uber famous luxury brands from the likes of Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, and others were eliminated, since they offer a wide spectrum of luxury goods.
Without further ado, here we go!
15. Emme Parsons — The most elegant simplicity
Los Angeles-based designer, Emme Parson, has envisioned a very distinctive footwear style in a world full-choked with glamour and over-the-top luxury shoes. She has created simple, minimalist and practical leather-and-suede toe-ring flats, and sandals that evoke a timeless sense of elegance. Each pair of shoes is handmade in Tuscany, since Emme considers that there is no match for Italian craftsmanship when it comes to shoe-making. Whether you prefer an urban, beach or cocktail evening style, these flat sandals will make you feel like walking on clouds.
Price range: $360-$425
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Gwyneth Paltrow
14. Sophia Webster — The supermodels’ shoe designer
The youngest shoe designer on this list, Sophia Webster has positioned herself at just 33 years old as one of the most sought-after shoe brands for supermodels. Her creations sport poppy and sensual, yet classic designs with butterfly-adorned motifs and other eye-catching prints, and glitzy fabrics. Victoria’s Secret iconic models such as Candice Swanepoel, Doutzen Kroes or even Adriana Lima have been spotted wearing Sophia Webster shoes both on the catwalk and on the street. While you may not have supermodel-style abs or ankles, these shoes are perfect for your Instagram account, especially if you plan to join the league of fashion influencers.
Price range: €180-€1,195
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Blake Lively, Kendall Jenner, Rita Ora
13. Bruno Magli — 80 years of heritage in elegance
Bruno Magli’s collections of Italian nappa and suede shoes have been a staple of elegance on the red carpet for both male and female celebrities throughout history. The brand’s creations reflect simplicity and elegance, without featuring over-the-top heels or high platforms. They can be worn at any time of the day, at work, on the street, at a cocktail bar, when handing over an Oscar to Meryl Streep, and any other occasion you might think of. Needless to say, all shoes are made in Italy by some of the most skilled shoemakers and embody the epitome of timeless craftsmanship.
Price range: $400-$500
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Hillary Clinton, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lucy Liu
12. Pura López — The Spanish Royal Family shoe designer
The 55-year old Spanish shoe designer has made a name for herself among the royals like few others have succeeded. Her creations combine a classic and regal style that is coveted by mostly all monarchs of Europe. From luscious burgundy pumps to velvety suede pointy boots, with iconic stripes and other unique embellishments, you too can look like a crown queen at a relatively affordable price. Pura López is a master of creating high heels (9 to 11 cm) and platforms without compromising the stability factor. With such comfort, you might even want to run the fashion marathon! All shoes are made in Spain.
Price range: €250-€350
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Princess Letizia of Spain, Princess Mary of Denmark, Penelope Cruz
11. John Fluevog — The “Angel” eco-friendly shoe designer
The Vancouver-born shoe designer, John Fluevog, has had quite a humble start in 1970 but a trajectory that granted him a reputation like few could boast. His “vegan” shoes made from eco-friendly materials like hevea tree latex, but also inspired from art deco, have created a popular trend of loyal “fluevoggers”. His low-heel creations resemble the famous Dutch clogs but with a more haute-couture twist. Colorful and vibrant, all his shoes feature unique designs that make you feel like you’ve just stepped out of a Hansel and Gretel kind of fairy tale. The shoes are made in various parts of the world such as Vietnam or Portugal.
Price range: €200-€450
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Madonna, Scarlett Johansson, Paula Abdul
1 0. Malone Souliers — The Shoe Sculptor
Pennsylvania-born, Mary Alice Malone, is an avid practitioner of sartorial nous when it comes to designing shoes that perfectly fit your feet like in Cinderella’s case. In fact, if you have any scheduled flight to London, you can pop by her elegant atelier and have her measure your feet and craft a unique design that represents your personality. Generally speaking, her creations reflect a combination of lace-up boots, mules and pumps, with golden and silver metallic straps, undulating shapes, and a kaleidoscope of colors that scream chic, classic, and elegant. If you want to eclipse everyone on the red carpet, these are the shoes to go for!
Price range: £300-£700
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Blake Lively, Emma Roberts, Kylie Jenner
9. Charlotte Olympia — The old Hollywood glamour designer
Although she only started off in 2008, Charlotte deserves to be featured as a high-end shoe designer who rose to international fame faster than any other designer on this ranking. Her creations evoke the nostalgic era of Hollywood and are embroidered with representations of iconic landmarks and people such as the statue of liberty, the queen’s guards, Mae West, May Wong, and many more. You can walk around in shoes flaunting other eye-catching designs inspired by kitties, spiders, roses or cheerleaders. All shoes are handcrafted in Italy. Whichever pair of shoes you choose to wear, it will definitely help you strike up conversations with celebrities whenever wild partying in Beverly Hills.
Price range: €185-€1,300
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara
8. Francesco Russo — The rising superstar shoe designer
Albeit still relatively unknown, Paris-based Italian designer, Francesco Russo, launched his namesake label in 2013. However, he has decades of experience working for Miu Miu in Milan, Yves Saint Laurent in Paris, and then for Sergio Rossi as a creative director. The defining characteristic of his own creations is timeless ultra-feminine silhouette — which basically means that whatever you wear, including flats, it will make you look unrealistically sensual. Combining an elegant design with innovative materials, his shoes make your feet feel like they are part of the design. Unlike other brands it’s not really the shoes that shine, but the elongated shape of your legs from all angles. Needless to say, all shoes are exceptionally handcrafted in Italy.
Price range: €495-€1,580
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Victoria Beckham, Dakota Johnson, Olivia Palermo
7. Mihai Albu — The Shoe Architect
Bucharest-based shoe architect, Mihai Albu, is the only designer on this list with two pairs of platforms featured in the Guinness Book of World Records (31 cm and 37 cm, respectively). With more than 3 decades’ experience in designing geometric creations inspired by architectural marvels like Gaudi’s Park Güell, deconstructivism-style buildings like Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and art nouveau structures, Mihai Albu has cemented his reputation as a master of unique geometries. Whether you wish to strut around like Lady Gaga on ginormous platforms or go for a romantic dinner in sensual suede stilettos, Mihai Albu’s shoes will definitely turn heads on the street.
Price range: €150-€690
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Madonna
6. Sergio Rossi — The classic brand
Founded in 1935 in Italy, there is no wonder that Sergio Rossi brand is a staple of classic high-end footwear with international prestige. One single pair of shoes requires 120 steps and 14 hours of work, and the unbelievably meticulous process has been documented by various magazines and media outlets. The signature Sergio Rossi product is without a doubt the Godiva pump with a recognizable, classic and appealing shape that has been fascinating female shoppers for decades. The A-list celebrities who have worn Sergio Rossi on the red carpet are way too many to fit in this article, just like all the movies which featured these divine creations.
Price range: €450-€1,750
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Naomi Campbell, Sharon Stone, Halle Berry
5. Salvatore Ferragamo — The Shoe maker to the stars
Salvatore’s life history is as fascinating as his legacy and his timeless creations. After he’d spent his youth years in the USA, in 1927 he settled down in Florence, which he considered the quintessence of Italian romanticism and culture and started a company that in time would become an icon of Hollywood stardom. Famous creations are the Rainbow shoe worn by Judy Garland, the pump heel which was Marilyn Monroe’s favorite shoe, and Vara,which is currently the most renowned and sought-after Ferragamo shoe. All his creations have been combining science, architectural shapes, and colorful creative touches ever since the brand’s inception. Although his family took over the business after his death and introduced a ready-to-wear clothing line, Ferragamo brand will always be known for unmatched footwear craftsmanship and design.
Price range: €530-€1,590
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep
4. Stuart Weitzman — The million-dollar shoe designer
While the array of shoes available to us, the common mortals, reflects quite affordable prices for such a high-end brand, Stuart Weitzman sold a pair of shoes which was worth $9.48 million. The brand often likes to pull off such publicity stunts, especially at Oscars, although some celebrities refused to wear million-dollar shoes on the red carpet. His creations made of nappa, suede and leather are characterized by uniform colors and modern, classic designs, and eye-catching hues. Occasionally, prints and Swarovski crystals are used for unique and limited collections. All you need to do is lay down a red carpet in your garden, wear a pair of Stuarts, and pose for Instagram like a superstar.
Price range: €298-€2,435
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Gisele Bundchen, Beyoncé, Taylor Swift
3. Jimmy Choo — Cinderella’s shoe designer
In 1990 Jimmy Choo, a struggling Malaysia-born designer trying to make a name for himself in London, met Princess Diana. And the rest is history! Ever since, there hasn’t been one single celebrity in the world who hasn’t worn these otherworldly glamorous creations that are reported to be the most comfortable luxury shoes in the world. However, after a decade of a prosperous partnership with his niece, Sandra Choi, and Tamara Yeardye Mellon, Jimmy Choo left his own ready-to-wear footwear company due to various disputes. As such, people nowadays who buy Jimmy Choo shoes in fact purchase creations designed by Sandra Choi. The only way to purchase a pair of couture legendary shoes handcrafted by Choo himself is to visit his shop in London.
Price range: €250-€2,095
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Lady Diana Spencer, Sandra Bullock, Cara Delevingne
2. Christian Louboutin — The Red-soled designer
Since he started his legendary eponymous brand in 1991, Christian Louboutin has not only established himself as the supreme artist of shoe-making but also as a remarkable character with a lively, humorous, approachable, and sophisticated personality. Ever since he was a little child, he has been fascinated by the Ancient Egypt, which he has used for inspiration in his high-end stiletto creations. His signature/protected trademark is the red-lacquered sole that appears on every single pair of shoes he handcrafts. Regardless of the design and motifs such as jeweled straps, studded leathers, feathers, animal prints, and many more, you will always know someone wears a Christian Louboutin pair of shoes just by looking at the most passionate nuance of red (Pantone 18–1663 TPX) superbly polished across the sole.
Price range: $575-$2,795
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Nicole Kidman, Daisy Ridley, Kate Winslet
1. Manolo Blahnik — The God of shoe-making
Manolo Blahnik represents the epitome of shoe-making elevated at the status of art collection and lavish sensuality. The most influential person and critic in the fashion industry, Ana Wintour, is reportedly wearing only Manolos. Sarah Jessica Parker created her own line of shoes inspired by Manolos, and her character in Sex and the City was enamored with Manolos as well. These creations have been featured in dozens of movies and documentaries, and Vogue worships Blahnik like a God. Educated in Politics, Law, Literature, Architecture, and Design, inspired by his mother’s and his aunt’s fashion sense for satin fabrics, and fascinated by exotic Moroccan motifs, Manolo has succeeded in creating a new era of shoe-making. Add in his unique, whimsical, and romantic Spanish personality, and it’s easy to see why he is regarded as the Jesus of shoe artistry.
Price range: €550-€6,495
Celebrities and Brand Ambassadors: Rihanna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyoncé, Michelle Obama
There are, of course, many other famous and emerging designers who are truly making waves in the competitive world of shoe fashion. Granted, you might need to save some bucks for a few months, give up on buying the new iPhone model (which is just an iterative version for at least 4 years anyway). But in the end, each designer on this list offers unique styles and creations for all wallets. The choice is yours!