“Never question a woman and her relationship with her shoes.” Whoever said this was certainly a wise one. Men love their cars, women love their shoes. So, men, never ask why women cannot do with just one pair of shoes.
I’ve always been a shoe lover—even before I developed a love of bags. I remember, when I was five, each time I was given a new pair, I’d make sure to keep these yet-unworn shoes next to me in bed before I went to sleep.
I also have very fond memories of playing in my mother’s shoe closet, waddling around in her sandals and pumps. Even as a teenager, I’d secretly look through her closet to try on her shoes.
One of those pairs was by a brand named Walter Steiger. Little did I know that I’d one day meet the man who made those shoes.
Steiger is a brand founded by Geneva-based craftsman Walter Steiger Sr. in 1932. Walter Steiger Jr. followed in the footsteps of his father, eventually designing for Mary Quant and collaborating with Helmut Newton, Karl Lagerfeld, Nina Ricci, Chloe, Sonia Rykiel, Kenzo, Alaia and Oscar de la Renta, among others.
It was also Walter Jr. who brought the label to international attention when he opened a Steiger boutique in Paris, followed by others in New York, London and Milan.
Steiger belongs to the era of shoe greats Roger Vivier, Andrea Pfister and Maud Frizon. This was before the time of Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin.
In 2009, Walter’s two sons decided to join the company and injected new life into the brand. The famous Steiger “claw,” a curved heel that looks quite deadly on the feet but is actually very comfortable—and I can attest to this as I have walked in these heels on the cobblestone streets of Milan and Paris for hours—soon made its way onto the shelves of the carefully curated shoe section at Barneys New York. And it was there where I saw the Steiger brand again.
After having met Walter and getting to know his sons Giulio (who runs the Paris and London operations) and Paul (now New York-based), I could not help but admire their apparent respect for each other, and it’s easy to see why the label is on the up and up.
Steiger shoes have serious star power today: Royalty and celebrities who have been seen wearing those distinctive claw heels include Princess Charlotte of Monaco, Lindsay Lohan, Beyoncé, Scarlett Johansson, Kendall Jenner and Victoria Beckham.
It was also just a few seasons back that Steiger resumed designer collaborations, this time with Akris, and Victoria Beckham for her namesake label. Victoria had been practically living in her Steiger booties called “Oscar” (one of the Steiger bestsellers) shortly after giving birth to her daughter Harper. Giulio fondly recounted how it was Victoria herself who had called him to talk about a possible collaboration, which came into fruition a season later.
It is possible to collaborate with Steiger for your own custom-designed and custom-made shoes. And that goes for both men (yes, men) and women. For bespoke Steiger shoes, there is the Maison Steiger Bottier in Paris, just steps away from the family-owned ready-to-wear boutique along Rue du Faubourg.
In today’s fashion, shoes have dramatically evolved and heel height has continued to rise. It’s not difficult to find shoes with 6- or even 7-inch heels. It has, however, become more difficult to find your true sole mate—shoes that would not only give you added height but also provide comfort for your feet. Steiger is one of the few labels that do so.
Ingrid Chua-Go blogs at www.thebaghagdiaries.com and is on instagram.com/thebaghag