By Hillel Aron
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By Jill Stewart
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Imelda Marcos swindled her country, married a dictator, participated in mass government corruption, encouraged decades of political repression, and effectively killed the Philippine economy — but damned if she didn’t have a fabulous pair of shoes to go with all of it. She’s my people, Imelda, and if I knew I was facing my last days on the planet, and there were no consequences to my actions (i.e., pesky bills to pay, troublesome revolutionaries calling for my head on a platter), you can be sure I’d be maxing out my MasterCard at Footcandy, the most beautiful, decadent and luxurious shoe boutique on the Westside.
Footcandy, which has been around for just over a year, is co-owned by longtime friends and shoe enthusiasts Xiomara Zelaya and Robyne Wilson, both residents of Brentwood. Their store is the Los Angeles branch of the original Footcandy in Napa Valley, and like its older sister, Footcandy Brentwood is awash in Louboutins, Puccis, Manolo Blahniks, Casadeis, Loeffler Randalls and Jimmy Choos set against a luxurious backdrop of glowy recessed lights, lush carpeting and creamy white walls. Shoes sit in their own little gilded cubbyholes, as if they were prized jewels and not just the smelly things you shove your feet into. Because they buy in small quantities, Zelaya and Wilson carry the stuff that the big department stores can’t: a rare Blahnik in an unusual skin, or a Sigerson Morrison stiletto in a hard-to-find color.
In case you were wondering, shoes that sit in gilded boxes don’t come cheap. The last time I was there, I spied a silky pair of metallic sky-blue eel Louboutins for $730. But then I gasped when I saw the $1,200 price tag on another, nearby pair of Louboutins. What I wouldn’t give for a pair of those, with their trademark red sole that looks like you’ve trodden across a floor soaked in blood — the blood, probably, dripping from the pricked fingers of hundreds of cobblers who have made stitching a perfect shoe their life’s work.
“We wanted it to be like an old-fashioned shoe boutique,” says Zelaya (strappy black Jimmy Choo, 4-inch stiletto). “We know all our customers’ names and the kinds of shoes they like, and what specific foot they look for — a Blahnik for wide widths, for example, or a Choo for narrow.”
“We see these women all the time on our personal hours away from the store,” says Wilson (round-toe, black patent 3-inch Louboutin pump). “At the gym, at dinner, at the bakery, at Vons. These are women who shop constantly. They wear our shoes at charity events, or while taking their kids to private school, or while dropping them off at karate class.”
“They wear stilettos on the way to karate class?” I say, and the ladies giggle.
Once you get the shoe fever you can’t stop. In which eventuality, Zelaya and Wilson assume the function of shoe therapists. Not too long ago, they helped a woman who was desperate for some wedges to wear to a wedding in Maine. And then there was another woman who was late to a gala dinner ball and only had two hours to find a pair of . . . glass slippers? Glass stilettos? If you bring in an outfit, they will help you marry it with the perfect pair(or two, or three, or twenty). Zelaya, who owns hundreds of shoes — oh, please, they both do — remembers buying her very first pair of Blahniks (white, peep-toe pump). They cost her a car payment. But better to walk with style, I presume, than drive without. God forbid she should ever run out of money, her dad teases, because then she would have to eat her shoes. Every so often, the ladies even host intimate shoe nights, during which women can come in to be girly, lounge on the gold velvet settees, have pedicures, sip champagne and nibble on cheese or hors d’oeuvres while trying on shoes.
Wilson stands up to assist a group of young women who look like they mean to do some serious damage. I know that hungry-hyena look.
11934 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood, (310) 820-4800. Packages with in-store private shopping, special events and assorted goodies, $175 per person to $350 per couple.