Live model is body-painted as a leopard printed stiletto – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner
The Noel Shoe Museum Gala was held on October 26, with cocktails beginning at 7 PM at the Metropolitan Club at One East 60th Street. Traditionally, the dinner is held on Wednesday, October 25, St. Crispin’s Day – the patron saint of shoemakers and leather workers.
The crowd – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner
However, due to New York’s busy social season this year, the Metropolitan Club was only available on Thursday. No worries, the overflowing crowd came out in droves to celebrate the first and only shoe museum founded by shoe designer Vanessa Noel.
Alisa Roever, Anna Rothschild, Vanessa Noel, Omar Hernandez, Christina Estrada – Photo by Lieba Nesis
The museum seeks to highlight the footwear culture, emphasizing design, history, manufacturing, and the industry’s Picassos, such as Tokio Kumagai and Maud Frizon. It is a unique and pivotal addition to the New York fashion landscape.
Frederick Anderson, Jean Shafiroff – Photo by Lieba Nesis
The museum operates through pop-up exhibitions while it seeks to establish a permanent residence in Manhattan. Mayor Eric Adams was an unfortunate no-show, but his doppelgänger brother Bernie was an adept substitute.
Cathleen Smith, Lauren Ezersky, ?, Kathleen De Monchy – Photo by Marilyn Kirschner
Debutante Vanessa Noel, the Kickstarter for the museum, was born and raised in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Cornell University with a fine arts and architecture degree, which influenced the launching of her first shoe line under her eponymous label in 1987. Her 36 years in the business began with brisk sales to Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Bloomingdale’s until a heart attack nine years ago forced her to reassess her trajectory.
Ben Mindich, David Hochberg, Montgomery Frazier – Photo by Lieba Nesis
Her current focus is on philanthropy and limited distribution of her shoes, noted for their exquisite craftsmanship and use of products from Italian tanneries. All collections are handcrafted in Milan, Italy, on a made-to-order basis, and prices range from $300 to $3,000.
Adam Weiss, Pamela Morgan – Photo by Lieba Nesis
Her signature stretch alligator boots, which debuted in 2004, appeared on Kim Cattrall in the Sex and the City movie in 2008, and she is considered one of the premier architectural shoe designers whose collection is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Barry Weinbaum, Josh Kamei, Mark Dorfman, Joe Pacetti – Photo by Lieba Nesis
Her lavish 2,000 square foot flagship boutique on 158 East 64th Street, which contains python skins on the ceiling, broke ground in October 2004 and is her sole surviving shoe store. Vanessa only wears her own shoe designs, of which she currently owns upwards of 500, unless she is wearing a sneaker, for which she prefers Prada and Nike. One floor of Vanessa’s spacious townhouse is shoecentric, as she described the 250-step construction process required for a basic pump.
CeCe Black – Photo by Lieba Nesis
Many shoe-loving attendees attended the $1,200 per person gala, including Susan Gutfreund, Lauren Ezersky, Jeffrey Banks, Kathleen De Monchy, Nicole Salmasi, Jean Shafiroff, Liliana Cavendish, Sharon Bush, Nikki Haskell, Christine Mack, Stacey Bronfman, Jennifer Creel, Helene Comfort, Anna Rothschild, Omar Hernandez, Pamela Morgan, CeCe Black, Christina Estrada, Carolyn Maloney, Josh Kamei, Fern Mallis, Victoria Wyman, and Sana Sabbagh.
I had the best seat in the house, next to a silk-clad Anna Rothschild, who is both of noble lineage and a publicity powerhouse, as we talked all things shoes, clothing, and current events.
Nikki Haskell showing TikTok – Photo by Lieba Nesis
Speaking to octogenarian influencer Nikki Haskell is about as inspiring as it gets. With her 300,000 followers on Instagram and her exploding 340,000 TikTok account, she personifies the adage “it’s never too late.”
Susan Gutfreund, Hunt Slonem – Photo by Lieba Nesis
Haskell is most popular among the critical demographic of 18-24 year olds, and 60 of her old shows featuring Andy Warhol, John Oates, and George Hamilton are currently viewable on Amazon Prime Video.
Bernard Adams – Photo by Lieba Nesis
Haskell donated two pairs of her iconic Fiorucci shoes to the museum, and she is forever relevant, always on the move in the most glamorous get-ups, with a Rolodex including icons Joan Collins, Clive Davis, and Beverly Johnson.
Bingo with Vanessa Noel and Fern Mallis – Photo by Lieba Nesis
The entree was equally enticing, with salmon caviar, filet mignon, and a pumpkin cheesecake that welcomed Halloween with open arms. An end-of-dinner bingo game presided over by veteran fashion insider Fern Mallis awarded two lucky winners a 10-day cruise from Sicily to Greece with a face value of more than $21,000.
Guests then went to Omar Hernandez’s La Goulue afterparty, where dancing, drinks, and fraternization abounded. Bumping into Board Member Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, I noted the effortlessly elegant prince wearing sneakers with his suit – an unusual happenstance. Has the casual shoe trend entered the halls of royalty?
Alas, these were no ordinary shoes with a photo that renowned photographer Victor Skrebneski shot of Prince Dimitri plastered on the tongue – as they say, “royalty has a magic of its own.”
Great article on this amazing woman!
Fabulous article! So well written, and telling of a quality life in fashion that transcends time!
Your All-American, tastefully coordinated look is an expression of your own creativity; not dependent on a designer’s input.
Dear Linda, Thank you so much!!!!
Marilyn ALWAYS GETS IT- AND THENSOME… thanks Marilyn for another great capture.
Beautiful selection Marilyn. It was a great escape!
Always keen and insightful commentary bt Marilyn for the fashion lovers among us. Yes, we need a little spectacular right…
Thank you for your very astute comments Allyson….you nailed it!