The Genteel
April 17, 2021


Shoes by Terry de Havilland. Source: and
Terry de Havilland

The rock 'n' roll cobbler, Terry de Havilland 
going strong after 50 years in the business. 

Legendary British shoe designer Terry de Havilland marks another milestone in his 50-year career with the forthcoming opening of a pop-up store off London's Carnaby Street this April. "It's an area that epitomises the spirit of London style and I can't think of a more perfect place to be. It's been over 30 years since I last had a flagship store and I can't wait to show it off," the 74-year-old de Havilland told

The store will remain open until mid-July and will feature styles encompassing de Havilland's six-decade-long range of designs - from his signature strappy platform wedge, the Margaux, to the sexy and elegant stiletto heels of the Zyla. The shoes, resplendent in their kaleidoscopic colours, metallic finishes and psychedelic prints will be housed in an interior created by Harper Downie architect Graham Erickson which will be heavily influenced by the silver décor of Andy Warhol's New York factory.

Whereas his contemporaries of a bygone era have either passed away (Ossie Clark) or marginalised like Barbara "Biba" Hulanicki, de Havilland has kept hold of his name and his fashion legacy. Past glories count for little in a modern industry that takes old styles and recycles them or re-launches a once famous brand as its own. It takes a certain resilience and fortitude to still be fashionably relevant and de Havilland has these qualities in abundance to find himself once again on the cusp of potential commercial success.

Just like when 1980s hip hop sampled loops from old James Brown songs and thus made the
"hardest working man in show business" cool again, Miu Miu's apparent (and uncredited) sampling of de Havillard's designs in an early 2000s collection seems to have given the "King of Sole" the impetus to reclaim his legacy. Although initially outraged, de Havilland eventually took the view that imitation is the best form of flattery and decided it was time to get a piece of the action. The story formed the basis of a BBC documentary that followed de Havillard and his wife Liz in their search for recognition as the source of the Miu Mui design. They never made much headway in that regard but the programme did show that de Havilland was still around and more importantly, still making shoes.

The story formed the basis of a BBC documentary that followed de Havillard and his wife Liz in their search for recognition as the source of the Miu Mui design.

De Havilland's father had been in the "making of shoes" business himself, so he had been surrounded by the accoutrements of the feminine footwear business from a very young age. "I can honestly say that my first memory is of shoes; platform shoes with ankle straps worn by my mother and made by my father, the house was always full of them. I guess you can say that shoes are in my psyche," de Havilland says on his website biography. Cobbling is in his blood.

It was in the '60s that de Havilland first made an impact on the fashion world, with his designs featured in the influential fashion magazine Queen in 1964. By 1969, he was being patronised by world famous female celebrities of the era such as Bianca Jagger, Britt Ekland and Bette Midler who were all entranced by his distinctive shoe designs like his coloured snakeskin three-tier wedges.

In 1972, de Havilland opened his first store, Cobblers to the World, on the King's Road in fashionable Chelsea and his trademark Margaux wedge was born. The shop soon became a mecca for the rock star / model cross-pollination that happening at the time, with Led Zeppelin, Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg all hanging out with the one they called the rock 'n' roll cobbler.

By the end of the 1970s, times had changed, both economically and fashion-wise, and Cobblers drew its shutters in 1979. During the '80s, de Havilland diversified his style to incorporate the punk and goth sensibilities of the time, into his new label Kamikazi and relocated to a small factory in Hackney to produce affordable street style "winkle pickers" adorned with skulls, studs and spikes. Kamikazi's relative commercial success was halted in 1988 as the world once again tuned in to a different frequency and de Havilland was left to seek another niche.

The '90s saw the first signs of a re-evaluation of de Havilland's contribution to fashion and he created shoes for Paco Rabanne and Anna Sui's runway shows in 1997 as well as designing the footwear for BAFTA-award winning film The Velvet Goldmine and creating Angelina Jolie's boots in Tomb Raider. It was also the decade that de Havilland met his wife and the "power behind his throne", Liz, who helped him re-open Cobblers to the World in Camden Town - where customers included Marilyn Manson and Dita Von Teese.

Terry de Havilland
Terry de Havillard Milly shoe.

After a minor heart scare in 2001, the couple shut shop in February 2002 and decided to focus their efforts building the brand through a well-placed editorial presence and ongoing collaborations with established high street footwear retailers such as Office. In 2006, Terry was nominated as Accessory Designer of the year at the British Fashion Awards, and in 2010 he was awarded with a Drapers Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to footwear design over the last 50 years.

Now based in the creatively vibrant East London hub of Dalston, de Havilland still makes couture shoes for many high profile fans such as Ana Matronic, Kate Moss, Alison Goldfrapp, the Jagger clan, Kelly Osborne, Sienna Miller, Pixie Geldof and Cara Delevingne.

The opening of the new store is a new and exciting phase in the career of the rock 'n' roll cobbler with de Havilland producing most of the stock in London while bringing back some lasts that have not been seen for decades. If the shop is a success, there are plans to take a permanent shop in London and roll out across the pond. As he said in a recent interview with Grazia, "Never look back. Take the knocks and carry on. It'll be alright in the end; if it's not alright, it's not the end."



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