Best Foot Forward

Hunting Season Opens on Trophy Shoes

images by Ethan Kaminsky

It’s a path to paradise for the shoe obsessed — actually for anyone who sees that fashion starts from the ground up. Walk into the vastly expanded and opulently re-imagined footwear department at Saks Fifth Avenue at the Gardens on El Paseo in Palm Desert and prepare to have the heart beat faster. Sink down on a banquette and enjoy.

From the bubble serpentine chandeliers and spherical “chiffon” lighting fixtures by Charles Loomis overhead down to the rugs woven in Tibet, the ambiance transcends everyday reality. The fabled eighth floor of the New York Saks, so big it has its own zip code, 10022-SHOE, inspired the décor. But the wall art, some curated from desert galleries, has its own western flair.

Astride saarinem tables, trophy shoes by a galaxy of designers lure the eye. A fantasy glitter suede Chanel pump, a beruffled Guiseppe Zanotti sandal, a Prada leopard-spotted bootie. Luxe labels also include YSL, Brian Atwood, Miu Miu, Manolo Blanik, the rising star Alexandre Birman, and others.

“Shoes are in my blood,” department manager Paula Maietta says. She has devoted a 35-year career to her favorite accessory. Currently, she sees the wedge as the top silhouette “in boots, pumps, sandals, and oxford-style shoes.” Platforms, like the wedge, prevail into spring 2012. That’s when she forecasts “lots and lots of color. It all works for the desert.”

The grand opening for the new footwear scene at Saks takes place Nov. 10 from 2 to 8 p.m., with a ribbon cutting, visiting dignitaries, and “shoeology” session with Jimmy Choo’s Christine Marconi. Look for live entertainment, food and beverages, and a “man cave” refuge for gentlemen from 5 to 8 p.m. And local pastry chefs compete in a shoe-shaped dessert contents.

As objects of desire, shoes can adorn the mantle as sculpture, as well as glorify the feet. You don’t have to lose weight to slip into them. They can take your plainest outfit to great heights. Step into a pair of kick-derriere shoes and you’re ready to conquer.

Saks Fifth Avenue, 73555 El Paseo,
Palm Desert. 1-760-837-2900;

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