Army-like boots in the rain

Where: Salame st., south Tel-Aviv

Who: Anonymous. We enjoyed a short chat but she preferred not to identify.

Me: who’s the brand behind the shoes you are wearing?

She: oh, I don’t know… I bought them about 10 years ago in Basel st. in Tel-Aviv.

The rain continued. Sometimes metal studs still carry their statement among its drops.

I wish the rain could wash away violence.



The shoes choose me

Tips and recommendation for buying small shoes from a well traveled design consultant


Its’ not that I chose them – says Gillian who wears shoes size 35, and constantly finds creative solutions to find shoes that fit.

Who: Gillian Golan – or Gilli as most people call her – a close friend, business consultant for design focused businesses, senior lecturer in Shenkar college, lecturer and teacher of “From creating to selling – from designing to marketing” courses. The course provides tools (=knowledge) for marketing and selling in the commercial market for designers and creative people.

Me: so what is a shoe for you?

Gillian: where will I find it, where are there shoes that fit me?? In one word – a mission!


Above: Gillian’s dream shoes. Why?? Read on to hear the story 🙂 were bought in Triest, Italy, summer 2016

Me: a favorite shoe, you really love

Gillian: it changes. Every time I have a shoe I’m crazy about for a while. I fall in love with shoes that fit me perfectly, and also look good on me.

The perfect fit is really important because it is so hard for me to find shoes that suit me.

It’s not only about the size  – from the start so few shoes are made in size 35 – in addition there are whole categories that I know in advance will not fit me; the sandals and shoes that wrap around the shin are almost always too wide for me. all the gladiator sandals for example that were so fashionable this summer – I couldn’t buy even one of them.

So the challenge is double – first to find a shoe size 35. And then also find a shoe that fits in width and proportions.

Another thing I realized throughout the years is that many times when I do find size 35 shoes, they are more a mature style, addressing older women. Many times they are fancy evening shoes, and this is not my personal style.


Me: and what about custom-made shoes
Gilli: I tried but it wasn’t a successful experience. The result wasn’t comfortable. We changed, fixed them but it didn’t work. Since then I travel the world in the search of the perfect shoe, hoping to find my dream shop – full of size 35 shoes.


Me: describe the process of buying shoes

Gilli: I stroll down a street, suddenly my eye catches a shoe shop with all its glory. The shoes are alluring, I want to reach out to them but I am reserved; I first check to see if they have them in size 35. Usually I don’t even have to ask the staff because the shops exhibit the smallest size they have available – if size 35 isn’t presented in the story, they probably will not have it in stock.

So I mapped shops that sell size 35 shoes. There was an excellent shop in Amsterdam called Cinderella but it seems it closed. Another excellent shop is Giordano’s in New York (details below). In this shop size 35 is even considered to be a big size. The shoes are not that cheap, their price is about 200-300$, but worth the cost. they hold designer’s samples, samples which are made in small sizes to look attractive to buyers.


Me, thinking to mysesf: this touches a sensitive issue; the masculine fantasy for “small women”, something we’ve been moving away from during the past decades.

But let’s leave this for now because people should feel comfortable with fashion and the designed items that surround us, no matter what your size is.


Above: shoes designed by Liz Claiborne. Materials: leather and microfiber. I especially loved the upper’s shape and cut of shapes.


Above: shoes by Noya. Materials: leather, textile

Gilli continues: (she has a lot to say about size 35!:) because it’s so hard for me to find shoes, it turns out I have a lot of shoes; when I find shoes that fit me I buy them right away! And there’s a big contrast; I either have expensive shoes that cost 200$ or more, or cheap shoes bought for 10$. All the mid range, the “regular” shoes most women buy – are out of range for me. it’s as if I am transparent for the designers and planners of the commercial production lines.


Above: shoes by American Eagle. Materials: synthetic. Maybe: the lining is leather, couldn’t identify it for sure.


Above: shoes by Fione. Gilli loves them so much she even had the back strap repaired by a cobbler.

More places Gilli buys shoes:

Lord and Taylors, a stylish chain of shops, I try to buy there during sales.

Another tip, relevant for the USA but not only: when I buy a few pairs at a time I receive a big discount at the counter, 30%-40%. They have enormous shoe shops, DSW for example. The shoe boxes of each style are stacked one on top of the other and at the top of each pile the shoe is exhibited, as if saying “look at me” and telling which style is in the boxes below. The shoe boxes with very small or large sizes are marked with a circle, this way I can easly identify a shoe box with size 35. When I enter the shop I don’t even look at the shoes, I look only at the boxes and when I find a shoe box size 35 I look up to see at the shoe. This way I bought the red sandal, I looked up and said “wow, a red sandal, ok, that’s cool”, I wasn’t even looking for such a sandal. This way I’m constantly surprised by the shoes I buy.


Above: followed the magic dots; a red sandal size 35. Materials: leather upper, synthetic insock, wedge coated by cord.

Another brand that has women’s shoes size 35 is Clarks, but I can find this size only when travelling abroad

In Israel I usually buy in Aldo, Zara kids and the local brand Twenty Four Seven.

Aldo – my personal style is slightly different than theirs, but I can still find in Aldo shoes I like, I try to wait to the sales season.

In Zara kids I usually buy their flat pump shoes, their sizes are a little large, so sometimes I find myself buying size 34.


Above: sandals by Twenty Four Seven. Materials: leather, studs, injected polyurethane outsole.

A thought: the sandal is made with hardly any stitching, other than one exception – a stitch at the back strap. This reduces the cost of production – the labor work is expensive – and this makes me wonder why they didn’t find another solution besides stitching.


Above: one single stitch; it’s not clear to me why they didn’t use a stud for connecting.

More shops worldwide: in south east Asia it is easy for me to buy. In Macy’s I usually buy more than one pair at a time. I can spend 3-4 hours searching but know that as far as shoes are concerned I can enjoy some peace and quiet for a year or so.

Me: A shoe you dream about, long for

Gilli: at the end of the day I fantasize about something simple – a classic knee-high boot that will fit perfectly, have a low heel about 4 cm high, a boot made of high quality materials that I could enjoy wearing for a few seasons.

Me: a story about a shoe which is special to you

Gilli: a few months ago I was a guest at the ITS competition which takes place once a year in Trieste, Italy. I accompanied one of the participants in the competition (name of —-) , who also won first prize.

We arrived in Trieste and I felt like I want to find the perfect shoe that would match the skirt and shirt I bought the day before – finding clothes that fit me is also not easy! I knew the chances were not high; to find shoes that match the clothes and match me too in a short time. And then, against all odds it happened! I found pump shoes in a colour matching the shirt. At the end of the day I found 4 items in 4 different shops, all matching one another and matching me too!

Gilli: and this is the time for another tip: it’s easier to find shoes size 35 in south of Italy than in the north, where people are taller.


Above: Shoes by La Nouvelle, jacket by Pimkie, Skirt by Motivi


Above: Gilli’s lucky shoes, bought in Trieste, Italy


Above: Gilli and Tatiana Lobanova at the ITS competition Trieste, Italy

We continue our travel in time.

Me: a memory linked to shoes?

Gilli: I remember there was a fashion for sneakers with colour outsole, these were shoes by Gali, and mygrandfather who had a factory for rubber produced the outsoles for them.

Me: your grandfather had a rubber factory?? Where, when, what was its name?

Gilli: Tagel factory, in Akko

Me: you are truly a family of producers,

Gilli: yes… eventually my grandfather sold the factory to one of the large companies in Israel. I have another memory: sandals with a rubber outsole through which you could thread laces that tied around the foot and leg, you could switch between the laces and choose your favorite colour.

Me, thinking to myself: it is like the freedom Gilli would like to have today choosing shoes…


Above: red shoes bought in Payless – follow the dots on the boxes 🙂


Above: girl’s sandal we designed in Nimrod shoes in 2012, with a changeable lace

Me: and childhood reminds me of your daughters…

Gilli: right now they are both size 35, and I hope their shoe size will grow, and they don’t stay at size 35 for two reasons

Me: I can guess why..

Gilli: first, so they will not need to cope with this “nightmare” of size 35 in a world which produces most of its shoes from size 36 upwards and…

Me: so they will not wear your shoes!

Gilli: exactly 🙂


Above: a photo I shot of Gilli during her fist pregnancy, at the beginning of our friendship – today her daughter is 15 and wears shoes size 35 🙂 This photo was our first photo collaboration, many more to follow

So after my visit to the “house of 35” with three beautiful and creative women I was left with thoughts about small women who are actually big and meaningful in so many aspects

Print and keep:



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Meta Shoe – silhouettes of light

3 interviews, 3 exhibitors; endless points of view – follow the steps into the stiletto exhibition – Cinderella Syndome.


Idit Barak

Fashion designer and senior lecturer at the fashion department in Shenkar Design Academy

It took Idit seven years to process her visit to the Bergdorf Goodman shoe salon into a shoe which expresses the contradictions she experienced during the visit

Bergdorf Goodman which is located in New York’s 5th Avenue in is an exclusive shrine for stylish shoes, which takes its visitors back in time into another dimension

The Salon, established in the 1940s, keeps its original interior design to this day. It’s as if time has been froze in the shrine, yet the desire and lust for beauty are relevant and dramatic as always, since ever

Embed from Getty Images

I wear only flat comfortable shoes” says Idit, and although I am aware that women are bewitched by stilettos, still that moment standing in front of a divine pair of Louboutin shoes caught me by surprise. I realized I desired those shoes in a manner I could not anticipate or control

I tried them on, I could barely walk in them yet I was still engulfed by the desire for the shoes

I think women relate to comfort and desire together. Each person creates the mix, the personal answer that suits her – how much am I prepared to suffer for this beauty? Some are prepared to suffer very little, if at all, and there are those who will wear the coveted shoes despite their being uncomfortable –  because the shoes answer that same desire that I, too, experienced that morning.

Embed from Getty Images

We strive to be as healthy as can be, yet in some conditions we choose a controlled portion of disability – so we can address other motives we have such as being perceived by others as sexy and desirable, to elongate the body and to add a sense of tension to it; to create excitement in our body and physical aspect.

Idit wanted to track down this polarity – the painful and the exclusive in a summit meeting. The stiletto-crutches that she presented in the Cinderella Syndrome exhibition touch on the subject using black humour with gold decoration: a type of disability but madly desirable.

Uncoded-Steps_Shoe_Blog_Stiletto-crutches-Idit-Barak-שלי-לואיס-Fashion-Fetishism -

Above: computer rending of the stiletto-crutches, designed by Idit Barak

The Stiletto–crutches relate to characteristics of Loubooutin’s and are best known for: the red outole bottom. The stiletto-crutches are hand-stitched and are made of shiny black leather, its insides are painted in bright red, the butterfly shaped closures are coated with 24K gold.

Uncoded-Steps_Shoe_Blog_Stiletto-crutches-Idit_Barak-Cinderella-Syndrome-Fetish - Shelley-Lewis

Stiletto-crutches designed by Idit Barak, gold butterflies fasten a black corner. Photo: Shelley Lewis at the exhibition

The original crutches were taken apart and reassembled; its lower part is made of a ‘strange’ piece of wood which was connected to the upper part of the ‘real’ pair of crutches. The bottom of the crutches is extremely small in relation to the crutches: only 12 m”m width and length. A real heel top, as used in the footwear industry, is glued to the crutches’ base.

The creating of the stiletto-crutches and its transformation from crutches to a stiletto shoe was done in collaboration with the industrial designer Yaniv Kadosh. The result is an item which will challenge our perception of comfort, disability and sex appeal.


First sketch, by Idit Barak


The making of the stiletto-crutches, in collaboration with industrial designer Yaniv Kadosh

Pink DNA, glittery included

Shelley: were you familiar with the term “Cinderella Syndrome” before the exhibition?

Idit: yes, the natural tension between girls and women, and the tension between femininity as perceived by a chauvinist or by a  feminist interests me. Which of these characters exist inside of me, and where does the transformation between the different characters occur?

Idit: I am feminist, we shattered the roles which are supposedly relegated to women or men. Today, we the women, are independent and responsible for our lives, yet we have this place inside of us which seems at times to have been programmed to dream of the prince who will come and treat you exactly as you imagine

This raises question within me as a woman, as a mother, as a teacher at Shenkar

“On the other hand” Idit continues “maybe this strong craving to be “like a princess” is beyond education and the surrounding influence on us”.

“I wear only black clothes, and when my daughter was a baby I dressed her only in monochromatic clothes. Yet when she was three years old she came up to me and demanded to wear only “dresses that swirl around me” and told me her favorite colour was pink”.

“Today she’s back wearing black, which makes me feel like a proud mum”, Idit laughs.


Sandals I designed for Nimrod shoes in 2012. Pattern making by Nina Avidan

Shelley: when I worked for Nimrod Children’s Footwear Company, we used to laugh that it’s probably inevitable, perhaps girls are born with a gene which say “pink and glittery”.

Idit: It really is in the DNA in some way or other. Sometimes we can fight it and sometimes we can allow ourselves to be little girls who dream of being big

Big or small, disability or comfort, sex appeal or dream-like sweetness – what is the stiletto shoe?

The following interview invites us to dive into this question and come up with some ambiguous and  enlightening resolutions.

Orit Freilich – X-Ray shoes

Orit Freilich, a senior lecturer in the fashion department at Shenkar Academy – exhibited in Cinderella Syndrome an X-ray photo of a pair of shoes she bought in 2006. The photo is accompanied by a soundtrack of her granddaughter singing a children’s song about Cinderella.

The shoes x-rayed by Orit are designed by Maison Martin Margiela, and are part of his series of Replica shoes; Margiela reproduced shoes and perfumes that originally were made in the 1980’s.

Orit: the x-rayimage is silent evidence of the pain embodied in wearing shoes with heels. The nails are an explicit expression of this discomfort.

בלוג_נעליים_אורית_פרייליך Maison_martin_margiela_Shoe_Blog_Uncodedstoep

Above: Orit Freilich’s granddaughter sings in the sweetest voice ever: “My dear Cinderella loves me, we will soon marry and have a baby boy”.

And the picture above the song: the X-ray image Orit presented in Cinderella Syndrome. Is the shoe being taken apart, or is going through a healing process? And who is the patient? Is it the shoe with distorted nails, or is us, constantly craving for additional elevation and heights?

Orit: The dichotomy between the visual pain seen in the x-ray screen, and the sweet voice of my granddaughter, who is the voice for all the girls who haven’t yet worn shoes with heels – confronts the mature women with what lies ahead for their daughters, while keeping silent about it.

The shoes X-Rayed by Orit, were designed by Maison Martin Margiela, and are part of his Replica series. In this series Margiela remade vintage shoes he had in his private archive. The replicas search for past identities of shoes, and raise questions such as what is authenticity today and what is our relationship with the past?

Replica in its pure essence is the remaking of something from the past, usually considered by us as “original” and “authentic”. During theremaking, the replica becomes an original of its own, and so on and so on.

“I chose a shoe from the Replica series” says Orit during our interview, “because it resontates the remaking, the reproduction of past ideas and objects. Margiella’s shoe recreates a shoe exactly as a woman waiting for her prince recreates the idea of marriage, and the promise of salvation embedded within them –it’s a ceremony which has been repeated again and again since the first couple who married”.


Picture above: waiting for the prince? A Barbie doll between two shoes designed by Ann Demeulemeester, in their original box. An X-ray picture by Orit Freilich.

In the song accompanying the image, my granddaughter sings “My dear Cinderella loves me …” these are actually the words which are supposed to be sung by the man, not the woman.

Shelley: by doing so, the woman gains a hold on the man’s perspective of her, this same image he has of her which affects so many women in such a profound way – am I desirable, am I attractive, what is my value? – And by this she restores control of her self image.

Orit: yes, the song has many meanings, exactly as the photo enabled me to expose hidden components, and take a closer look at the shoe. It’s the same as when the doctor examines our X-ray photo, looking for signs and clues in order to have a better understanding of his, or her patient. I, for example, discovered that the nails in my shoes were crooked, I don’t know if they were like that from the start, or they if were deformed by walking in them.  We reveal a concealed layer while at the same time more questions arise.


In the photo above: Margiela’s Replica shoes; do nails have a hidden language? An X-Ray photo by Orit Freilich

In the photo above: Margiela’s Replica shoes; do nails have a hidden language? An X-Ray photo by Orit Freilich

The interview ended. I was left with thoughts about being exposed and indirect at the same time. Could these two live together?

On the one hand Orit invited us to have a close and introspective look at the shoe, yet the shoe remains mysterious and unknown.

So if you are curious to see the shoe in its entirety, you are welcome to have a look at the bottom of this post, where you can see the shoe posted upside down.

And why is it upside down you might be asking yourselves?

Well, first because this is the nature of riddles, also because the following and last interview turns heels over head.

You can see more of Orit’s work in the upcoming DLD innovation festival on Sep-27, 2016. Orit’s work, titled “C.T. Scan of Cherub”, will include a video installation which will be screened onto the houses in Rothschild Blvd. Tel-Aviv. What kind of images will these be? Well, I guess you get the idea 🙂

The negative of the positive – Avigail Talmor

My phone converstation with Avigail Talmor, owner of the brand For Those Who Pray, took place while Avigail was seated in her studio overlooking the sea that stretches to the far horizon, hand stitching items for five of Comme Il Faut’s exclusive shops.

“I   hand stitch all the objects I make” says Avigail. “From each style I make 15-20 units, and then I move on to the next style. Each style is produced for a specific period and in small quantities. Besides my 5-6 best sellers, which I produce again and again.”

“I don’t produce collections” Avigail continues, “I am part of the slow fashion movement”.


A clutch made of left-over leather, using special techniques. When? Probably right now. In one week from now it might not be available in stock

“The objects I design I make” – and Avigail calls her jewelry ‘objects’ because it allows the items to have a wider definition, without identifying with a specific part of the body – “are always made of left-over black leather I buy. This makes the design work and stitching much more complicated. It takes much longer to choose the best left-overs. Also stitching and connecting pieces of leather which are so different from one another requires high skills and a constant development of new techniques”.

“Ecology is important to me, embedding these values into the process of making an object, but to be honest the value which is the most important for me are my personal aesthetics. Aesthetics are a means of expressing my inner truth. Being precise about aesthetics that express my point of view is something I’m not prepared to compromise on.”


After going further into this we could discuss the object Avigail exhibited in Cinderella Syndrome.

Shelley: the head piece evokes the Statue of Liberty

Avigail: I am also a painter and I was in residency for half a year in New York. I found the Statue of Liberty intriguing; on the one hand it looks like a woman, on the other hand its jaw is masculine. She is dressed in clothes that blur the silhouette of her body, so it’s even harder to tell if it’s a man or a woman.

I find gender interesting; I am driven by the philosophy behind things because all creation is strongly linked to an inner ideology. All actions have a cause, whether hidden or not.

Photo by Guy Goldstein

Head over Heels; For Those Who Pray

Photo by Guy Goldstein

Avigail continues: the statue’s tiara has a lot of power, it includes seven rays pointing to the seven corners of the world. The message is that liberty reaches to the every corner of the world.

In the object I designed for “Cinderella Syndrome” I echo this from my point of view as a fashion designer – the fashion message that spreads from New York outwards.

And the idea, the message I have to offer is a wide and open interpretation of Gothic aesthetics. Why open? Because it is first and foremost a matter of combinations, how does the object I designed blend into your personal style.


Above: Photographer Pavel Bolo|Makeup by Rafit Noy for MAC Cosmetics|Hair by Rafit Noy for MORROCANOIL|Model Noam Shoham

Avigail: this reminds me of an interview I read with Li Edelkoort, the trend setter, who told about a time she was invited to lecture at an office. During the meeting with the staff the people changed clothes with each other, and created new looks which were beyond trends. What really matters in fashion, and perhaps in life too, is the combination, not the trend or a specific object.

I create styles which are multi-cultural. On the one hand they look Gothic, on the other hand they look African. It is all a matter of context, with what and how do you wear, or use an object I designed. An object needs context in order to have meaning


Picture above: photographer Michael Topyol|Makeup: Rafit Noy for MAC Cosmetics|Hair :Rafit Noy for MORROCANOIL|Model Noam Shoham

Shelley: this reminds me of a quote by Rolan Barth who said that a shoe is never just a shoe. A clothing item is never only functional, because it is part of culture.

Michel Foukault said something similar about sexuality: sex doesn’t hold a hidden truth within itself, if anyone of us has a hidden, private, authentic truth relating to his or her own sexuality, then it was implanted with the help of social mechanisms

So actually all our actions are performed within a social context. To say that ‘doing’ is nothing more than the action itself is an injustice to the truth around us – the reality, culture, context.

Avigail: that’s true. My drawings of guard booths raise a question: is the guard booth at the entrance to a car park, or at the border, or at the entrance to a gaol? The booth is imbued with meaning based on its surroundings.


For a moment we leave the wider context of things, and go back to talk about the headpiece Avigail designed

At first glance from afar the object seems like a black crown to the head, but a closer look reveals the many different parts carefully stitched to transform the seven heels into a circle

Avigail: I actually create silhouettes, I see the object as a negative, not a positive. I am not busy with precious stones and diamonds which might decorate the object, but with its overall impact and relationship with the body.The seven rays create a dramatic change in the silhouette of one’s head, exactly as it does for the Statue of Liberty. This is not a decoration, but a major and meaningful change in proportions and shape.

The interview with Avigail ended and I was left in thought.

Avigail creates objects with a clear and dramatic silhouette, in the same way her choice in using only left-over black leather acts as her conceptual silhouette, to her work. She defined dark boundries, with endless beauty and depth.

And last but not least; Margiela’s Replica shoe, why is it upside down? Because it’s an answer to a small riddle, and because it makes sense here, in this contxt 🙂


Replica shoes designed by Maison Marin Margiela; resonating ideas and dreams into the present. Photo by Orit Freilich.

for further reading about the exhibןtion, the post about the opening evening, and an interview with Yaara Keidar, curator of the exhibition.

I’d love to read your comments, I invite you to comment, write and share your personal stories about shoes

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The stiletto curator who got married barefooted

An interview with Yaara Keidar, curator of the stiletto exhibition “Cinderella Syndrome”


Desires, aspirations, longing for something which is beyond you;

Shortage, lacking, a difference, deification. longing, desiring, imaging…

The stiletto fills the gap between our dreams and reality;

8 centimeters of desire,

20 centimeters of eagerness and fascination

4 cm of longing for more and more

I also want more

To show, to create

So here I am, writing a blog

Words that wrap words, liquefying energy bursting into a flow which flit upon the paper or screen instead of in a gallery and a ‘real’ space

COLLECTE טל דרורי ואסף שם טוב _Fetish_Stiletto_Fashion_Blog_Uncoded_Steps_שלי-לואיס
“The gap betwwen elegance and pain”designed by Tal Drori and Asaf Shem Tov, 2006

Above: Is this a shoe or a sealed idea of a shoe?

When I first heard about the Cinderella Syndrome exhibition

I held my breath for a second

And then reminded myself to take a good deep breath

“I am not there” shouted a hidden voice in my head

I design for other brands,

I have not yet created my own line of items with a clear statement


I’ve this place, here

The blog, into which the energy flows

Energy that might not be channeled into materials, objects, heel heights, leather, glue, feathers and nails, colours and forms


Above: Working into the material, into the leather – “Venus’s Trap” by Shani bar. Material: Nappa leather. Photo by Shai Ben Efraim

The desire to bridge a gap, to reach the un reachable

is found in the story of Yaara Kider, curator of the exhibition,

who hasn’t worn high heels for two years following a glorious and painful fall from high heels

and has hung up her heels and proceeded to celebrate life

in flat shoes

a clear contact with the ground – a sort of truthfulness

stability and comfort

that now guide her feet

But the nature of ideas and desires is not to rest nor to remain silent and the intellectual and creative  curatorship of Cinderella Syndrome provided Yaara with the drama and magic she needs just like the air she breathes

“Bleeding Innocence” by Maya Maimon-Friedman, The Guid, 2016

Looking for some Drama?

“When I started digging dipper into the story of The Wizard of Oz I realized that Dorothy, who comes across as an innocent girl, launches a killing spree in order to return to her home” says Maya, whom I know from the Trend course I teach at The Guild. “It reminded me of an intriguing yet scary image I once saw by the photographer Brit Bentine. This image had a strong impact on me, and it inspired my work”. Brit Bentine dresses up children as figures in a horror movie, examining the border line between innocence and fear in childhood and life itself.

The interview with Yaara Keidar

Was squeezed into her tight schedule during her visit to Israel

An hour before the opening

Amid a team making last minute arrangements

Yaara, who conducts this dynamic ensemble, finds a few precious moments for our meeting

Shelley: a moment when a stiletto was more than just a shoe, an unforgettable moment?

Yaara: I got married barefooted! I wasn’t comfortable in the stiletto I was wearing, and a few moments before the wedding ceremony I took off my stiletto shoes, to my Mum’s great annoyance!

Shelley: You were ahead of your time, even pre-empting Julia Roberts!:)

Embed from Getty Images

Julia Roberts who took off her shoes before stepping onto the red carpet in Cannes, and by doing this expressed her support at the protest against the demand women should wear stiletto shoes – if at work places or at Cannes festival itself.

Shelley: when working on a creative project, there’s a moment when it all “clicks”, a magical moment, of understanding something that couldn’t be understood at the beginning. Did you have such a moment during the work on the exhibition, and if so – what was in this moment?


Yaara: “When I started I didn’t know what topics and content would arise in the exhibition. The application to the designers was very open, I said to them “relate to the subject in any way you want – be critical or not critical, say that stilettos are amazing or alternatively that the end of the world’s approaching – do whatever’s burning inside you”

Some amazing works arrived from Bezalel, Shenkar, from the Guild, that conducted a competition for participating in Cinderella Syndrome

A natural harmony was created, a division into categories  and then I understood that there was a basis for the exhibition, a track, and that’s how it was created”.

The division into four topics within the exhibition:

The pink room relates to children’s fairy tales; are the stories really as pleasant as they seem to us?

The green room displays shoes that take the term height to a new level

The white room shows us the artistic aspect of shoes, where does the shoe end and art begin?

And the black room – the fetish room that examines the pain and aggression in shoes


The white room, “Rogatka” by Kobi Levi. Materials: wood and leather. Photo: Ilit Azulai

מור כפיר La Petite Sirène Cinderella_Syndrome_Shoe_blog_Uncodedsteps_שלי-לואיס

“La Petite Sirene” by Mor Kfir, relates to the little mermaid fairy tale. The mermaid gave up her voice and tale for love, she loved a prince who did not love her back and didn’t appreciate her natural qualities. The shoe with its sharp fish bones expresses the tragedy of her masochism . Materials: Macarel fish bones, pearls, oysters, fimo, leather. Photo by Arnesto Eisner

נורמן ובלה_ Cenerentola Nostra טל ארבל ואלסנדרו בריגנטי_בלוג_נעליים_3D-Footwear_DesignCenerentola Nostra by Allesandrom Brigenti and Tal Arbel for Norman and Bella. Materials: Resin, 3D printing. Photo by Bar Sharir


The Black room, “Dominatrix”, designed by Tali Sorit, Bezalel Academy. Photo by Yoav Zohar

Shelley: did you identify any Israeli characteristics during the curator work, or was the content mainly universal, global?

 Yaara: I think that today everyone, that is, everyone who’s connected to popular western culture, has a global perception of high heels

True, in Israel there’s a great fondness for flat shoes, but even so, at most events today, in Israel as well, you can see a significant number of women in high heels.

However, I think that because women tend not to wear these on a day-to-day basis, and our dress culture is a bit more casual, then it’s easier for designers to see this shoe as an object rather than as a clothing item, and to neutralise its comfort and clothing element and concentrate on the artistic aspect that the shoe can express


Above: surrealism at its best. head pieces by Avigail Talmor and Tami Bar-Lev exhibited in “Cinderella Syndrome”, address iconic symbols such as Shciaparelli’s shoe hat and the statue of liberty.

Clockwise from top left: The statue of liberty during its  assembly in Paris picture from here; Heed Over Heels by Those Who Pray/Avigail Talmor; Shoe Hat by Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali, picture from here; Pretty Woman by Tami Bar-Lev.

Me: a stiletto shoe from your private collection that you particularly love

Yaara: Not stiletto but Prada’s 20 cm. platforms from the Japanese collection, 2013. With these, too, I have a love-fear relationship, and right now I don’t dare to go with them, maybe I’ll go back to wearing them in the future.

The eight-minute interview passed in the blink of an eye

The first visitors were starting to arrive. Yaara was busy straightening hidden corners of signs and other details – precision and perfectionism which she says give her great pleasure. Because in shoes, each millimetre counts and the sky’s the limit.

I was left with my thoughts.

What stilettos and high heels have I ever designed?

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Concept, Shelley Lewis
Sandals I designed for B.Unique; sample
Shoes I designed for B. Unique, SS 2014

For further reading I invite you to follow my steps and read about the opening evening of the Cinderella Syndrome.

Cinderella Syndrome will be exhibited until the end of the month in Ha’Hava Gallery in Holon.

I’ll be more than happy to hear you feedback and read your comments, I aldo invite you to tell and share your personal stories about shoes and other memories 🙂

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Cinderella Syndrome – Real or Dream?

A  ‘warm up’ post towards the in-depth post about the Cinderella Syndrome exhibition, now exhibiting in Ha’Chava Gallery in Holon exploring beyond the boundaries of stiletto shoes as we know them.So what did we have?The opening on June-18 was hot, just before summer’s hottest heat wave reaches our shores, and there was genuine excitement in the air.The exhibited shoes were fascinating each on its own merit; together they created a colourful, fantastical drama.And there was another drama taking place – the audience! A cool crowd of creative and innovative individuals, proving they understand one or two things about shoes, and who took the concept of “an exhibition” one or two steps forward – into life itself!


Maya and Kobi Gutwein

She’s wearing shoes by Shoemaker, where she worked as a designer for two years. Kobi is wearing shoes by Loading which were bought in France.

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The Guild shoe and accessory design school

Shoes designed  by Maya Gutwein

The shoe relates to the erotic aspects of Rapunzel.

Most amazing: the yellow hair is real! Additional materials: leather upper and a wooden, leather-covered  heel.

Produced by The Guild, Footwear And Fashion Accessories Design School, under the management of Nina Rozin, Kobi Levi, Orit Zaks

Photo: The Guild

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Rapunzel’s shoe by Maya Gutwein

Sharon Tal

The designer who brought Maskit fashion house back to life, wearing shoes by Vince

Tal Tsur, the brand’s founder Iota Project ; Iota Project create furniture based on knitted textiles in a technique they have developed. The innovative brand also carries the values of social responsibility. Tal is wearing sandals designed by Theory .

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A summer dialogue

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Ya’ara Keydar,

The exhibition’s curator, is wearing sandals by Loeffler Randall

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Delicate gold straps amid many fascinating patterns

Aviva is wearing pumps by Nine West. A colourful zebra

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It’s not about snakes and ladders, but about snakes and zebras! A colourful Hermes bag flits with all its might.

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Aviva Hermes

The sculptress Dorit Levinstein with a bag by Issey Miyake. Geometric, clean, complex simplicity. I loooove the adjustable openings along the strap.

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Who’s in the pic: Sharon Ziv, a yoga teacher. Most precise: the shell bracelet. That’s the way to go when wearing Zara sandals! In the background Barak Lahav, fashion designer, wearing New Balance shoes.

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Sharon Ziv-Zara BarakLahav-New Balance_2

Me, in a dialogue with myself:

Me: why the hell did I take this picture with such an open aperture? There’s only about 1.5 mm in focus! All the rest is kind of blurry. What on earth was I thinking??

Myself: You’d better learn for the next exhibition!

Me: This is a once in life time exhibition; the moment was snapped and gone.

So here we are, left with Zara with a hint and tint of focus 🙂

More colours; United Nude, Desigual and a smile

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Amelia Naaman from Kfar Saba, owner of “Peace Café”. Wearing shoes by Norman And Bella.

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Sandals by Norman and Bella

The riot of colour continues: Amelia Naaman is wearing jewelry designed by Ruth Hassan, and holding a bag bought in an exclusive home sale of imported designer’s items.

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Shoes worn by Kay Long. Source: unknown and so mysterious. Classically golden.

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Kay Long; a golden mystery 

I also met Noa Rubin who exhibited three pairs of shoes. The shoes she is wearing were bought from a Victorian-style website. “I am connected to Gothic style, also in my work” says Noa. And you can also see it in the necklaces she’s wearing: the pink one was bought in the flea market, the black one she made herself; she took apart and re-assembled jewelry items to create her own Gothic fantasy.

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Noa Rubin. Her connection to Gothic is her starting point

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Noa Rubin. A Gothic puzzle

Bezalel Design Academy;

Noa Rubin; Sacred Pulse

The shoe is created out of and inspired by parchment leather traditionally used for sacred texts. The life force of the parchment itself is reflected in the form and flow of the shoe.

Materials:  parchment leather, sole leather, goat skin, fiberglass, beech wood

Technique: wet molding, sewing, hand sculpting and carving.

Instructor: Eli Ginzburg, Bezalel Academy, Jewelry and Fashion Department.

Photo: Pola Shechtman, Dean Wilson

Uncoded Steps סינסרום סינדרלה-סטילטו-בצלאל-נעליים-Nowa Rubin Sacred Pulse
Noa Rubin, Sacred Pulse

Noa Rubin;Tribute to Alexander McQueen

Materials: goat leather, synthetic cork, natural cork, magic steel clay ,sole leather, karkit fiberglass

Technique: hand sculpting, wet molding, leather coating

Instructor: Eli Ginzburg, Bezalel Academy, Jewelry and Fashion Department

Photo: Noy Biri

Uncoded Steps סינדרום סינדרלה-סטילטו-בצלאל-Nowa Rubin Homage Alexander McQueen בצל
Noa Rubin, a tribute to Alexander McQueen’s Armadillo shoe

Noy Biri was also at the exhibition. She bought the sandals she was wearing on-line. ”This was the first time I’ve bought sandals on-line, and I don’t think I’ll be doing it again”. Why? Because I was missing the fun of trying on the shoe, also, waiting for the sandals to arrive from overseas totally drove me mad. I just couldn’t wait!

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Noy Biri _Internet
Noy Biri, experiments in buying shoes on-line

Noy Biri. Straight lines in black and white on soft materials. In the background: Torn jeans. Noy is holding a catalogue of the exhibition printed in a super-limited edition.  Currently the hottest accessory in town.

Dress: Top-Shop New York. Bag designed by Aya Feldman. Ring designed by Noy Biri.

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Noy Biri
Many desirable items, especially the flamingo-coloured catalogue

Noy Biri; Spanish Dancer

Materials: carbon fibres, beech wood, leather processed from plants, koyo

Bezalel Academy, Jewelry and Fashion Department

Photo: Tal Avisar

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Spanish Dancer by Noy Biri

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Design: Noy Biri. Photo by Tal Avisar

Rivka Bezalel wearing a dress by Zara. The tattoo is an ancient blessing in Hebrew. Sometimes that’s all you need; a good dress with the right blessing 😉

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-rivka-bezalel_1 Lighter

Rivka with a bag by My Urban Runway

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Rivka Bezalel handbag

And the crowning glory (in my view) Rivka is wearing shoes by Sutrah designed by Guild graduate Sahar Abu Seif, who made her debut with an original and high quality collection. Sahar presented her final project at The Guild less than a year ago; in my view the project and the presentation were among the most exciting and beautiful that I’ve seen.

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-rivka-bezalel_2 effects_cr
Shoes by Sutrah, Sahar Abu Seif

Yasmin Sasson, manageress of Ha’Chava Gallery, who seemed slightly overwhelmed from the many people who stomped to the opening, wearing Bally shoes

Did I like them?? Yes, indeed! A squarish cut off shaped last is a rare bird in these pointed days.

The shoe resonates functionality and steadiness straight from the 1940’s style.

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Yasmin Sason Baly_2
Shoes by Bally

I loved: the mix with the zippered dress

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Yasmin Sason Baly_1
Enter a caption

Oren Rehani: actor and portrait photographer who recently returned after 12 years in Los Angeles, wearing Fly London sandals. What’s interesting? Wide straps and wide buckle in men’s sandals. What’s even more interesting: the edges of the straps are slightly filed down creating a graphic line along the edges; shiny leather versus rough surfaces. Exquisite details, hidden drama.

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Sandals by Fly London

Rosario is wearing flip flops by Raf Simons, created in a limited edition. Bought in Fred Segal, Los Angeles

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Limited edition RAF Simon's-Shop-Fred legal_2

 And what was I wearing? Sandals I designed for Yoopi Shoes

What’s fun about them? Leather manufactured using ecological processes that don’t pollute. Laser cut on the front strap, and really comfortable heel and sole

And why are they photographed this way?? Because I forgot to take a picture of me! I was too infatuated by all that was happening around me. All was so amazing and fun.

Uncoded Steps Shelley Lewis Yoopi Sandals SS2016 fashion ecco leather -2_cr_cr

Enlightened stiletto shoe

Two final photos of shoes from a totally different aspect – lighting

Creation presented by Rotem Gur of Vas and Crafts: metaphysical glass shoe. How does all this happen? Screening wine glasses on to the wall creates a silhouette of stiletto heels

Why did I love this? Original, and created with lighting, without materials

And it’s even more interesting to see such work from a designer who creates the shoes with her own hands and has mastered the secrets and creation of sandals.

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Rotem Gur Vas & Crafts _straighten
Vas and Crafts. And lights

Uncoded Steps Cinderella Syndrome-Stiletto-Rotem Gur Vas & Crafts _3

Through the peeping hole: a kind of romantic dream in a pink fluffy cloud. And what is the outcome of this pink dream? Yep, you are right – Cinderella Syndrome! 🙂 So beware and watch your steps:)



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Shoes and more; jewelry design in Shenkar

It was Thursday evening

Entertainment venue: Shenkar, Faculty of Design

What’s going on: presentation in the Department of Jewelry Design

Which course: designing display windows

The course has been running at Shenkar for 14 years, headed by Gillian Golan and Hagar ben Shalom

Moderators for the current course: Gillian Golan who specializes in business development in the field of design and Yoav Miller, a sculptor who has brought a new and fresh perspective to the design department.

Why I’m there: I was invited, as a guest critic to give an appraisal on the students’ work

Me. A critic? More on this at the end of the post. Stay tuned 🙂

Uncoded Steps Shenkar Jewelry shoes design_Mary Grossman
Presentation at Shenkar; dramatic, beautiful and funny too. Photo by Mark Grossman
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Yael Uliel; lecturer at Shenkar; An interesting dialogue between lecturers and students. Photo by Mark Grossman


The course on display windows is a unique course within the framewrk of the Department of Jewelry at Shenkar. After 4 years during which the students design in the scale of millimeters, they are asked to design a display window two meters high. They probably feel like Lilliputian in the land of the Giants. Apparently this is also the first time that they experience their jewelry from the commercial aspect of a display window. The aim:  to transform a good concept into a harmonious window that will create this “must have” feeling and make passersby stop, desire and forget all about their plans for that day!

Uncoded Steps Liliput Gulliver shoe design
Gulliver in the land of the Little People and the Giants, illustration by Otto Ernst Schmidt. Drawing from here 

Every two months five different students present the display window they have designed. This is a year’s course so the teaching staff make sure that the students will give their blood, sweat and tears throughout the year; designing is first of all a process and research, and only then are the design decisions expressed in material and the small details.

So who do we have this time?

Mary Grossman

Mary’s window is painted yellow with touches of ochre which break it far from the CMYK yellow but still leave it close to the circle of bold colours. Mary chose a central element in her jewelry design – a fold line that creates a three-dimensional structure with a clean look – and used it on a large scale in order to create aluminium display surfaces. Each surface is a unique design yet still a clear and uniform language.  The aluminium surfaces define a display area within the large window, leaving a yellow surround, which is exactly what our eyes and soul crave for.

Mary has also designed shoes inspired by the architect Dominique Perrault and they continue Mary’s design language: folds, fragmenting, and building anew through a variety of materials – leather, silver and plastic. The final result of the shoes is a combination of serious avant garde with a dash of darkness; just the way we love it 😉

You can see more of  Mary’s work here

Mary Grossman_Mark_2
Smiling 🙂 Photo by Mark Grossman

Shoes inspired by architect Dominique Perrault. I love its folds and the geometric sensation.

Uncoded Steps Mary Grossman shoe design Shenkar
Image from Mary Grossman’s website

Mary Grossman’s chess board. Folds, bold colours and a clean look; style with a clear hand writing

Uncoded Steps Mary Grossman Chess design project Shenkar
Image from Mary Grossman’s website

Chain of hearts, response to one of the narratives that occupies the jewelry world – a heart is the most widely sold shape in jewelry.

Uncoded Steps Mary Grossman Heart design jewelry neckless Shenkar
Image from Mary Grossman’s website
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From Mary’s display window; detail
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Mary Grossman’s display window

Two windows, two colours which tell so many stories.

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Photo by Mark Grossman
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Batya Wang, Lecturer at Shenkar. Photo by Mark Grossman

Liraz Borstain

Liraz presented an aesthetic and precise window at a high standard. The items are presented on panels that echo and resonate the jewelry. How did she do this?

Elastic bands were her starting point. The same elastic bands used for wax injection. She incorporated them to create surfaces into which she poured silicone. Does this go without saying? No, absolutely no! This is a technique developed by Liraz herself.

The general sensation is of floating archeology, as if an historical secrete is revealed to us, sharing with us its ancient pink spell. Liraz’s jewelry are created from a variety of materials and textiles, in integrated technologies

Uncoded Steps Shenkar Jewelry design Liraz Borstain_1
Liraz Borstain; floating archeology in dream like smoky colours.

In the picture three pieces of Liraz’s jewelry:

The piece on the right is made from biased cut ribbons and beads,

The middle piece is made from biased cut ribbons and metal,

The smaller pendants on the left are made from synthetic threads using heating technique

Uncoded Steps Shenkar Jewelry design Liraz Borstain_3
Liraz Borstain; technique, materials, design
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Bag by Liraz Borstain

Maya Shoshan

Combined inspiration from Britain and Africa which were an endless source of inspiration for her during her studies, but this time she decided to also make a stopover in Casablanca, which danced in the background in a blue print image and three-dimensional elements which served as connectors and hooks on which she presented the jewelry. Maya is a creator who follows the charm of beauty, and she blends eclectic elements in a way that sparks inspiration. We didn’t fully understand the flight path she chose: Britain-Casablanca-the depths of Africa, but hey, who said design is all about logic? In Maya’s hands this turns this into an aesthetic logic.

As a designer who usually falls in love mainly with the idea, I wondered about this. Yael Ulliel described this beautifully when she suggested refining the terms so as to create a more exact and integrated design.Yet Maya’s love of the magic of beauty transcends above all this, or as Uri Samt summarized: your noise is not noisy, harmonious noisy.

See more on Maya’s instagram page

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Detail from Mays Shoshan’s display window

English horse, African bag and Moroccan decoration. A new logic in a rich and global world.

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Photos by Maya Shoshan
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Eclectic royalty from the land of legends. Photos by Maya Shoshan
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Maya Shoshan’s display window
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Necklace desinged by Maya Shoshan. Photo by Maya Shoshan

Tal Efraim

Placed in the window large pages which resemble a gigantic sketch book. (Haven’t we’ve said Lilliput already?? 🙂 Tal has created order in the space, first by the sketch book, which is smaller than the window. An excellent decision; you don’t have to use all the window, sometimes the ’emptiness’ defines the center and the essential. To the sketch book Tal added an element from the world of sewing – a large red stitch which creates a grid along the page from which the connectors sprout, the hooks which serve to display the jewelry. The transition between the red stitch and the red metal hooks  is almost invisible – it’s not obvious to create such an harmonious transition between two different materials, so that they will look almost as one.

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Items from Tal Efraim’s display window. Brass jewelry.
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A detail from Tal Efraim’s display window

Jewelry designed by Tal Efraim. On the right, silver ring, a model that was built and printed in 3D, and zircons. In the centre a pendant set with garnets and on the left a brooch from 925 silver and pure silver inside.

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Image by Tal Efraim

Brooches made of silver plated brass. Tal already created a relief by hand during the wax stage, before the metal was poured. The black stones  – Swarovski stones in a limited edition

Uncoded Steps Shenkar Jewelry design Tal Efraim_1
Image by Tal Efraim

What else would we just loooove to see: adding pages so we get more of this ‘sketch book’ feeling, and connecting the sketch book to the background using the red stitch instead of the aluminium pole. In my opinion a less shiny background would also add. Extra brilliant: the little irregularities of the threads which pop out of the sides and bottom of the sketch book; escaping the order. To me this felt like a dash of good British humour – a (very) little wink taking place in the margins 😉

Interesting items from Tal Efraim’s display window: elements that “escape” from the sketch book. One of them is even sewn into the wall

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Tal Efraim’s funky escaping details

Hadar Shragai

Displayed her jewelry on a background that combines recycled wood coated in concrete with the stucco technique, a technique characterised by coating, planing and so forth, like a soft sculpture on the concrete and wood. The result exposes the wood from between the concrete which is painted in blue and similar to the woodwork found in some of her jewelry designs. A (slightly) more detailed explanation about stucco at the end of the post.

The division of the background into four panels refreshes and contributes to the composition, and the light colour lends softness and leaves centre stage to the jewelry.

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Hadar’s display window; details.
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HadarLing’s jewelry design. Image by Hadar Shragai
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Jewerlry degisn, Hadar Shragai. Image by Hadar
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Hadarling; a stand for business cards in the spirit of the display window.

What people were wearing and a little more atmosphere

Mary is wearing Adidas sneakers in a colour reminiscent of Liraz’s window. Did they plot this together? 😉

Uncoded Steps Shenkar Jewelry shoes design_Adidas

Uncoded Steps Shenkar Jewelry shoes design_Melissa
Oh Melissa, you are so stylish

Several levels above the regular snacks; stylish catering! Missing in this picture: the fine wine and sweet watermelons which were part of the fun.

Uncoded Steps Shenkar Jewelry shoes design_cup cakes
Photo by Mark Grossman

The presentation has ended, and where am I in the big, or small picture?

After the presentation I met up with friends.

“I was at a presentation at Shenkar”, I told them, “Is was invited to be a critic, and I am not crazy about the  word critic. When I was studying design the criticism wasn’t ‘my cup of tea’. I think everyone suffers from this at one level or other.  I am looking for an alternative word. I thought of feedback. But that’s also not so great”

“Mentor, you’re a mentor!”, Niva said

“No”, I said, “mentor is for someone who’s studied, who has education and training”.

Perhaps we could call it a design dialogue, or a creative conversation? I don’t know, let’s leave it for the moment as an open and wild question.  One day I’ll understand who I am and what my role is in Lilliput, the land of Giants and the Little People.

Further reading;

In Hebrew about the creative process and design process. If you find your way in this biblical language the following posts are really cool and interesting

From Mina Protnov-Mashan’s “Migdala” blog, a series of three posts about design thinking. For the first post, second and third.

From Carina Weber’s blog, The Trilogy of Creation; part one, two and three.

Shoe I designed for Nubikk

The sketches are a (small) part of the entire design process

Uncoded Steps Nubikk men shoe design

Additional lecturers

Who took part in the presentation and contributed their experience, knowledge and insights to the lively discussion about display windows

Sharon Keren, current head of the department

Uri Samt, incoming head of the department

Batya Wang

Yael Ulliel

Uriel Miron

And of course the moderators Gillian Golan and Yoav Miller


More about Stucco

The attached description is based on an explanation I received from Hadar – another minute and I’ll start plastering by myself 🙂 The word stucco describes a certain type of plaster which is used as a surface finish.

The first layer on the blue panels of Hadar’s display window are made from compressed OCB wood. Hadar used the wood as a means of creating the main composition of the panels, the three-dimensional structure

Above this is a netting combined with a semantic splattering  ( I learnt many new terms about plaster!) – crude plaster that can be used for building and sculpturing and on top of that, the queen of the layers – the stucco! Two very thin layers of plaster. Before the plaster dries it’s polished with cotton material, a process which creates a shine and gives the whole window its unique appearance

And to summarize the process: at the end of the day caressing and gentle strokes is what we really love and need .  Remember this when you are on the way from the Land of the Little People to the Land of the Giants 🙂

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Purple Revolution

My first prince

Memory: I am 16, my best friend has moved to Paris, her family relocated for one year due to her father’s research. I miss her. The time of year: spring, April. My parents allow and help me to arrange a 10 day visit to my friend’s house. I fly over during the Passover holiday. I’m excited. I arrive at their house, receive a loving welcome from her and her family. After a short Parisian brunch my best friend and I go for a walk. “We will soon be back, we just want to go for a walk around the block” we tell her parents, “Shelley is too curious, she wants to see just about everything,” my friend explains. The streets of Paris are a living museum to me; at that time I studied at an Art boarding school in Jerusalem, I literally ‘lived’ inside renaissance painting and medieval art and sculpture. So I just had to stop at every corner, alley, church, courtyard. The short ‘around the block’ tour turned into a long and magical day… we returned at 10pm, I believe just a few minutes before her parents, who are the coolest parents in the world, were about to freak out. This was way before mobile phones were popular, they were not even in my spectrum of awareness.

Purple Paris

That same day, or perhaps it is the following day, we go to the Virgin record store in the Champs Elysees. The huge store is like wonderland to me. I am mesmerised by its size and endless rows of records, cassettes; music was everywhere.

I buy 4 cassettes, I am almost sure they include Led Zeppelin, Susanne Vega, Peter Murphy and one I remember for sure: Purple Rain by Prince.

Today’s charming Prince

When I listen to Prince’s music today I fly back in time to the Art boarding school I went to during high school years. I spent a lot of my time daydreaming about the future (which I guess includes this exact moment too) and finding our way through hidden openings in the school’s fence, to explore hidden corners in the hills around the school’s compound. It makes me wonder how similar that imaginary future is to today’s reality, was I loyal to the hopes and dream of the girl I was?

Prince’s shoes?

As a footwear designer today I wonder what shoes I would design to echo Prince’s creation, life, vibe, existence, music.

One almost immediate influence Prince’s death might have will be in the popularity of purple. We’ve been seeing purple all around us the past few days; from a NASA-tweeted picture of a nebula in honour of the Purple Rain singer to people lighting purple candles in the streets. For a minute; purple is everywhere. We might be seeing this influence on large or small collections. Purple has hardly ever been a mainstream colour in fashion, let alone in shoes. How will this come about? You can see more of these magnificent gestures here. Get ready to be struck by ultra-purple!

I felt like examining this idea on a sandal that has many stripes. The gladiator sandal was a natural choice to play with colour gradation.

Uncoded-Steps Purple-gladiator footwear
One gladiator sandal; lots of purple

Purple for Kings and Princes

And how would this work for a commercial footwear company? It is a little complicated due to the large number of materials used for its creation – it would mean stocking almost 10 colours of leather for the upper. Most companies which do not make custom made shoes, but have a production line, even a small one, would choose to avoid such a process and to use a small number of materials per style. From my personal experience if you’d dare to ask such a task from a manufacturer she or he would prefer to avoid it, to choose a sandal that production would be more straight forward.

Another option is to create the sandal from thick leather that has not been through the final stages of colouring and finish; this would allow you to dip colour the leather to reach the exact shades; a delicate work bringing this sandal almost to the level of one of a kind art item – a work process which isn’t for everyone…

It is more likely that we will see purple used for details such as insock, eyelets or laces. On the other end of the ‘purple spectrum’ we might also see it as a strong and clear statement: purple shoes! Perhaps produced in small quantities.

Uncoded Steps Prince shoe design Gabbiano Tannery-C
Natural pigment at Gabbiano’s ecco leather tannery, Italy. Photo by Shelley Lewis
Uncoded Steps Prince purple boots Gabbiano Tannery C
More at Gabbiano’s Tannery; natual pigment on the floor. In the background: purple boots :)) Photoby Shelley Lewis

We want heels!

Among the many things Prince was known for, wearing shoes with heels was one of them. Heels for men have been flirting with the outskirts of fashion for the past few years, remaining in the blurred boundaries of avant-garde. Rad Hourani who was the first designer ever to create a haute couture unisex collection, a collection he presented in Paris in January 2013, has been wearing them for years and recently we’ve seen them in Dior’s AW 2015 collection. So they’ve been gradually moving from a more avant-garde brand to a more established one; this is the first clue showing us a direction which fashion is moving towards. A trend is first of all an evolving tendency and we certainly can see it here. Prince’s sudden death sheds light on this; suddenly heels for men are the talk of the day.

Uncoded Steps Heels for men hommedesign-
In these two images you can see the evolution, from Rad Hourani on the left in 2009, to Dior’s AW 2015-16 collection.

Rad Hourani’s picture is from the blog New Male Fashion . Dior’s image is from “Get In The Ring”

Heels; are they high or deep?

In her book “Fashion Forecasting” Evelyn Brannon meticulously explains the intriguing dynamics of fashion and culture. Trend forecasters notice similarities and connections amid the haul of information and creativity surrounding us. This helps us sense the connection between Rad Hourani, Dior and Prince. Things add up. All this does not happen in a vacuum, but amid times with many asking themselves ” am I attracted to men or women or both, am I a man or women, do I want to dress as a man or women or a mix of the two?” It seems time is just about ready for the comeback of heels for men.

You can see more about centuries long history of men’s heels in this charming one min. video: Listen to Elizabeth Semmelhack, curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toront

A trend evolves from many directions and places. It voices a zeitgeist, a state of mind, an aspect of current culture. It is much more than being fashion, fashion is the outcome of the deep undercurrent of trend. The blurring lines between men and women have been happening in many ways, and they represent our personal inner desires and yields; sexuality is no longer something you are born into and you live to play its pre-written script, but you write your life’s script and play, or live the role you choose to.

Uncoded-Steps Purple-boot
I drew this high heel bootie two years ago, Its image ‘jumped’ into my head one sunny afternoon, including its colours

I am curious to see the future; will men’s heels become more popular? Will Prince’s electric purple be seen in the upcoming shows, and if so, for how long will the “purple phase” stay with us? For a final goodbye I am adding two more pictures, they are smoky and glittery, electric and hazed, it seems purple electric heels are part of the beat. Your music stays with me, and will always resonate so many moments and feelings. RIP.

uncodedsteps Prince & the Revolution footwear design
Image from Feel Numb
uncodedsteps Prince purplerain
Image from Nolastudiola