The Noel Shoe Museum’s Inaugural Fundraising Gala at Doubles

Cameron Silver, Cassandra Cass, Chris Goddard
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

It is not unusual for a great pair of shoes to provoke an exclaiming remark, including the words “God” or “Holy.” But on October 25, we can take this to the next level and celebrate St. Crispin’s Day, shoemakers’ most commonly recognized patron saint.

“There are so many incredible historical footwear designers, both deceased and living, that must be showcased and honored for the public to view. There is much to learn from the shoes people have worn and the materials used in the different cultures throughout mankind.”

Vanessa Noel, Founder & Chairman, Noel Shoe Museum
Dinner at Doubles
Photo by Laurel Marcus

It is fitting that The Noel Shoe Museum, the US’s first and only shoe museum, held its Inaugural Shoe Gala at Doubles on October 25. “I chose Doubles because it’s Old New York, very iconic, very sexy and intimate,” opined host Vanessa Noel, Founder and Chairman, The Noel Shoe Museum.

Shoe Spring Rolls
Photo by Laurel Marcus

It was hard not to be reminded that shoes were the main focus of this festive and soulful evening. Hors oeuvres were served in trays that resembled Noel Shoe Museum Shoe Boxes. Toothpicks were outfitted with glittery gold pumps.

Usain Bolt’s Sneakers on display
Photo by Laurel Marcus

A selection of the museum’s shoes was displayed in glass cases. Instead of a red carpet, there was a Step and Repeat with AstroTurf, and a Shoe Cam was live streamed to a big TV monitor to ensure all the guests could see everyone’s shoes.

Amy Fine Collins
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

The dress code? “Festive Footwear” what else? Among the 100 guests who were more than happy to comply were Museum Board members Carolina Herrera, Susan Gutfreund, Tracy Snyder, CeCe Black, Fern Mallis, Susan Lucci, Cassandra Cass, and Amy Fine Collins.

Blinged out in Dolce & Gabbana
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Amy opted for a zany color block handbag by Christian Louboutin and vintage Manolo Blahnik Court Jester boots to accessorize her vintage Geoffrey Beene bolero from his Circus collection. My vote for “Most Festive” goes to this guest who lit up the night in a bejeweled Dolce & Gabbana dress, hat, bag, and tall boots. Pretty fabulous!

Candace Bushnell
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Speaking of boots. Now a Vanessa Noel signature, her over-the-knee stretch alligator boots were chosen by costume designer Patricia Field to be featured on Kim Cattrall in the famous fashion week scene in Sex and the City — the movie. While notorious shoe addict Sarah Jessica Parker was not there, “Sex and the City” creator Candace Bushnell was, wearing CD Green’s leggy sequined and feathered dress and very snazzy Manolo Blahnik heels.

Jeffrey Banks
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

And let’s not forget about the guys. As they say, “Clothes Make the Man.” Noted clothes horses like basketball greats Charles Oakley, Jeffrey Banks, Cameron Silver, Chris Goddard, and Nick Graham know full well that shoes are an integral part of the entire package.

Susan Lucci and Vanessa Noel
Photo by Marilyn Kirschner

Needless to say, finding a festive pair of shoes is not difficult for Noel, who, for 36 years, has designed and manufactured shoes made of exotic skins, fur, gemstones, sumptuous fabrics, and other rare materials. Noel’s hand-crafted footwear collections have graced the runways of Paris and New York and hold a loyal following of celebrities, socialites, and style makers. They are available on her website, vanessanoel.com, and at her jewel of a shop: a three-story townhouse located at 158 east 64th street.

Vanessa Noel JETSET Lug sole Loafer
Photo by Vanessanoel.com

For the occasion, The CFDA member opted for pair of her best-selling JETSET lug-soled loafers that she had embellished with Swarovski crystals. “Everybody thinks I will arrive in one of my beautiful heels, but a flat can be just as spectacular and phenomenal as a stiletto, and it should not be looked at as a second-class citizen. We have to be happy and secure about who we are.”

Nick Graham Fern Mallis Miranda Morrison
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Touche! I opted for high-heeled red satin Miu Miu Mary Janes for the occasion, but I was not that comfortable and envied those who opted for comfort and style. Miranda Morrison, the Sigerson Morrison co-founder who designs shoes for Tory Burch, arrived in funky black and white sneakers.

Woman changing from her flipflops to her platform heels
Photo: Laurel Marcus

One guest, a friend of Vanessa’s, proudly carried her prized white high-heeled Noel sandals and, instead, wore flats because of recent foot surgery. Another woman was spotted arriving at the Sherry Netherland in comfy flip-flops but changed into high heels for the party.

I spoke with Vanessa before the event and asked what inspired the idea of founding a shoe museum. About eight years ago, Noel suffered a near-fatal heart attack. During her convalescence, Noel wondered what would happen to her label and thought about legendary shoe designers like Beth Levine, Andre Pfister, and Maude Frizon. “We need a museum to celebrate these amazing designers, The Picassos of our Industry,” says Noel.

Shoes from the Noel Shoe Museum on display
Photo by Laurel Marcus

Right before the Covid lockdown, The Noel Shoe Museum received its non-profit 501(c)(3) status through the NY Board of Education. Noel is actively looking for a permanent home for the museum on the Upper East Side, close to Museum Mile. In the interim, several fun and educational projects and events are being scheduled.

There will be some popup stores this spring. They have initiated a Stiletto Ambassador Group with about 100 members thus far. Museum trips, accompanied by a docent, are among the plans. Over breakfast, they will discuss paintings and footwear. An excursion to the gorgeous Barnes Foundation outside of Philadelphia, known for its impressive Impressionist collection, is first on the list.

In addition to a “Footnotes Lecture,” with shoe designers and manufacturers talks, a group of “notable people” have been asked to donate a pair of shoes they already own. One of the women is Susan Lucci.

Noel admires and respects Lucci because she never gives up. After 19 nominations, the actress finally won her Emmy Award in 2009. “It’s important for young people to know that you never give up! You have a dream, and you go for it!”

Latest Comments:

  1. You could say Rucci is devoted to beauty but really he’s devoted to truth and beauty is how he finds…

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. Ralph will bring back beauty to fashion. Enough with the sideshow attractions.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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