It’s SoHo for smart shoes

Diego Della Valle decided many months ago to open a shoe store in New York. He already has nine stores in Italy that sell his shoes and those his company makes under the labels of Gianfranco Ferre, Azzedine Alaia, Zoran, Romeo Gigli and J.P. Tod’s.

His first thought was Madison Avenue, but there are miles of Italian shoe shops there, he discovered. Ergo, the Diego Della Valle shop opened in SoHo, at 462 West Broadway, between Prince and West Houston Streets.

“It’s very exciting down here,” Mr. Della Valle said as the finishing touches were put on the three-story space. “There’s vitality. People in New York do everything fast. Our philosophy is to have a little island of good taste where people can come and feel at home.”

The good taste starts with the window displays by Robert Ruffino, and extends to the spacious, white-walled interior. Kilim rugs in red tones are scattered on polished wood floors. A massive door of shiny blond wood inlaid with burl dominates the back wall of the street floor, which is furnished with leather and burl sofas, Art Deco lighting fixtures and vases of fresh flowers.

The best tennis shoes for plantar fasciitis reflect the same taste. The Della Valle line tends to be classic, with lots of low heels and low wedgies for comfort. High fashion is represented by crocodile loafers and oxfords, and high-heeled pumps of suede, silk or black patent. Some of the evening shoes are of Art Deco inspiration, with instep straps or geometric trimming of silvery tones bugle beads. Prices range from $175 to $315 (U.S.), except for the crocodile shoes, which go up to $795.

The Azzedine Alaia shoes for fall ($230 to $270) include a high-heeled suede pump and an ankle-high boot. The Ferre shoes range from quilted suede ballerina flats to patent pumps trimmed with quilted suede ($260 to $285). Romeo Gigli’s flats in suede or faille are $215 to $255.

In addition, the store carries a line of Della Valle’s walking shoes called Hogan ($145), which are made of Loritech, a material that is said to be water-resistant and rip-proof; casual flats called Koss ($110 to $145) and J.P. Tod’s soft leather boating shoes ($129 to $179) for men and women in a range of colors.

Gatto is a line of classic, handmade men’s best shoe for bunions about $490). Plans are to have a resident shoemaker on the premises this fall who will not only repair and polish shoes, but also take measurements for custom shoes to be made in Italy.


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