A year ago, former New York gossip columnist Kelly Will quit her job, sold all of her stuff and traveled across all 50 states in 365 days for her new project, Kelly Broadcasts America. When she got rid of her belongings, one piece of clothing made the cut: this very special pair of Valentino shoes.
How did these stunning Valentino shoes come into your life? "I was gifted them by my good friend, the stylist Robert Verdi. He gave them to me as a Valentine's Day gift in 2009. Only a gay celebrity stylist could pick out the perfect pair of shoes for a woman in advance without knowing her size, and have them fit like Cinderella slippers."
What do you love about them? "He's a long-time dear friend of mine, so of course that made an impact on me, and of course, he knows me so well, they are the absolute epitome of the girlish side of Kelly Will. They are bright and shiny and gold and they have a bow, and I've always loved peep-toes so he made sure to get me a peep-toe sling-back, and Valentino makes this incredible heel. The stem of the heel itself is so elegant, it's a beautiful shoe. It is my go-to shoe for the most glamorous evenings!"
I love how they make you feel girly. When you put them on, do you instantly feel like a woman? "Well, I do. I'm six-feet tall, I'm naturally blonde—and very blonde at that. Whenever I put them on, I feel like a little Barbie. I'm no longer this Amazonian woman, I'm this glamour girl that hit the streets and can dash across the cobblestones in the most elegant way."
The way you describe them sounds like they're a testament to true timeless style. "It's absolutely timeless. The thing about Robert is, he's a great stylist for a reason, people like Eva Longoria hire him for their weddings—and every day of their lives—because he understands classic style. He gave me a piece that will last forever and I of course treat them that way. I've had them for [more than] five years and if you looked at them you would never think that. I take them to a great cobbler, and I make sure the sole is always 100 percent, the heel is replaced when it's getting low. I treat them as if they'll be with me forever, because they are the one item that I will never give up."
Since they're so close to your heart, you've probably worn them to some meaningful moments in your life? "I definitely have, I wear them to almost every single black-tie event I've gone to in the past few years, I wear them to all weddings. The key to the shoe is that I was a celebrity gossip columnist in the city for nine years, and last year, I gave up everything and sold every possession I had to hit the road and [document] my year on the road in America. They are the one item from my celebrity gossip column days that I did not sell. I had a fire sale, and I sold every Missoni, every DVF, my Fendi bags…everything went, and the one thing I saved were these Valentino sling-backs. And that's why they're so significant in my life. They made the cut. And nothing else did, I had to sell everything else to afford the trip, and I managed to keep them."
So their meaning is actually two-fold: the sentimental value that they're a gift from a friend, and also incredibly stylish. "Absolutely, they are a treasured gift that happens to be timelessly fashionable! And how lucky am I to have someone in my life who can give me the absolute perfect gift that I could never get rid of? I will have them re-soled until they can no longer be re-soled."
How do you like to wear them? "I'm writing a book right now and doing a publicity tour, so in doing all that I of course had to bring my shoes along and had to make sure they got into a few shots. I probably wear them more with short dresses, long dresses and everything in between, and I occasionally wear them with jeans…[my personal style is] much more athletic and I am 35 and casual, so I wear a lot of Ralph Lauren tailored khaki and white shorts and pretty little cotton blouses. So I'm much more casual than those shoes. But when I got those shoes, I was much, much more girly. So, we change our style as we grow, and those shoes have managed to change and grow as my style has gotten less feminine. That piece of me will always exist, it's just not as every day as it once was."