>> Julian Louie's much-buzzed-about Spring 2011 Aldo shoes start hitting New York flagship stores and online today. (So far, there's one style online, the rest of the collection will be online and in nationwide stores starting April 18). And it's all thanks largely to a Fashion Week tweet from Joe Zee. "His excitement got Aldo very excited about it," Louie said last night at the collaboration launch, "And that's when we started talking about the possibility of launching at retail. That's how it all started." The shoes — the Deanna and the Sobeslava — each come in two variations; all retail for $125. And, according to Louie, they'll be in "stores in America, Canada, and the UK, Europe . . . It's big, it's huge."
The mishmash of textiles on the shoes was inspired by Pieter Hugo's photography book The Hyena & Other Men, the designer explains: "The photographs [are] of a group of men in Nigeria who were street entertainers, and they trained hyenas. They had these crazy outfits that were half American sportswear that they found and half really traditional tribal pieces with a lot of interesting textiles and tassels. So the whole collection was about the mix of those two ideas."
As for all the excitement at the launch last night — many a girl took away a pair — Louie says: "I never expected this response, truly. I am so excited. I keep seeing girls buying them, and I'm like, I hope I see you tomorrow! Hailing a cab, on the train, or something." And he already had celebration plans in the works, post-launch, at his favorite spot, Indochine.
Louie worked with Aldo again for Fall 2011 — "We did about 8 styles of shoes" — so can we expect those in stores, as well? "We still are discussing the details of production for Fall," he says. "I don't know exactly, but hopefully, fingers crossed this [Spring 2011 collection] gets a really great response at retail and they want to do it again. I hope it's the beginning of something that's ongoing." He added that he's already started work on the Spring 2012 collaboration in the meantime, and that Aldo has been "very supportive": "They gave me — it's like total freedom. I can't stress it enough how amazing it is. I keep thinking I wish every other aspect of my business was as easy as this relationship. I feel very, very lucky."