Shoe of the Month – Beaded Boot

It’s all in the detail.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is always keen to collect footwear from new and contemporary shoe designers, and so was delighted to welcome  this stunning boot to its collection.

Laura Risbridger graduated from De Montford University in Leicester with a degree in Footwear Design (BA Hons). She has since gone on to work with designers and shoemakers  in the UK and in Germany working on handmade shoes.

This boot was designed as part of a small collection put together in 2010 that was inspired by a fascination for old Romanian gypsy culture and their love of decorative embellishment.

The boot has thousands of tiny glass and Swarovski beads that were all individually hand appliquéd on to the leather upper, which  took over 100 hours to complete.

Beaded Boot

Beaded Boot

Laura said: “This technique  is something I love to do, really bringing back the glamour and art of the old shoemakers who created one off, beautiful couture shoes. Keeping alive the craftsmanship of shoemakers before with modern techniques and design is both a privilege and a pleasure.”


Shoe of the Month – Wellington’s Waterloo

Wellington’s Waterloo

Today the word ‘wellington’ is used to describe a waterproof rubber boot worn for work or leisure. However it originally referred to a new shape of leather boot that was named after the military Commander Arthur Wellesley. A celebrated hero, Wellesley became the first Duke of Wellington and won many victories against the French during the Napoleonic Wars – most famously the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815.

Wellington was renowned for his interest in good-quality footwear, and was often shown wearing hessian boots. In The Soldiers’ Feet and Footgear, Captain Cecil Webb-Johnson notes: “Wellington, when asked the most important part of a soldier’s equipment, replied ‘Firstly, a pair of good shoes, secondly a pair of good shoes, and thirdly a pair of half-soles’.” (1913)

George Hoby, bootmaker to St James’s Palace, London, made Wellington’s boots. Bata Shoe Museum is in possession of a letter from Wellington to Hoby that highlights how difficult it must have been to make them fit correctly. Two pairs of new boots ordered and received get the following response: “The boots you sent me were still too small in the calf of the leg and about an inch and a half short of the leg.” So close-fitting was the wellington that one needed boot jacks to pull the boots off.

Queen Victoria once asked the Duke of Wellington what type of boots he was wearing. “People call them wellingtons, ma’am”, he said. “How absurd”, commented the Queen, replying, “Where, I should like to know, would they find a pair of wellingtons?” She obviously thought he was unique.

These delightful wellingtons have a stunning red morocco leather leg and date to the 1860s.


Wellingtons, 1860s

Wellingtons, 1860s



Shoe of the Month – JH Design Studio

Our Shoe Digitisation Project involves taking images of all our shoes and we are unearthing some wonderful examples including this delightful shoe by JH Design Studio from the 1970s.

JH Design Studio T Bar Shoe

JH Design Studio T Bar Shoe

You would certainly step into spring in style wearing this suede T Bar with striking sun motif.

Shoes can be practical, they can be truly fabulous and in the 70s they could almost be pieces of art. The 70s saw a passionate fascination with shoes as sculptural forms, a little tongue in cheek but always playful and fun. Some could still be worn though others were purely decorative.

Shoe of the Month – Great Exhibition Boots

Great Exhibition Boots

These fantastic Wellington boots were made for The Great Exhibition of 1851. They are made from beige and black leather. They have a wide flat square toe. The front of the leg is decorated with an appliqué design of black leather and coloured silk -now missing – of a crown, national emblems, crosses, starts and a scalloped border.

They were handmade by John N Hefford of Derby. The stitching on the boots is so fine that there are 53 stitches to the inch. They won a prize medal at the Great Exhibition.

Great Exhibition Boots

Great Exhibition Boots

Shoemakers were craftsmen. They had served an apprenticeship to learn their trade and were proud of their skills. Special boots and shoes were made for exhibitions starting with the Great Exhibition of 1851. They were full sized shoes and all show a high quality of standard and workmanship.

Shoe of the Month – Shoes with Stories

Shoes with Stories

These beautiful shoes were designed and made by Hetty Rose.

Henrietta Rose Grogan graduated from the London College of Fashion with a degree in Footwear Design & Development (Cordwainers). She worked for footwear designer Georgina Goodman on an industrial placement for a year and has worked in London and Italy for handmade shoe companies.

Hetty’s collection is based on the practice of re-using and re-working vintage materials in a creative and sustainable way, hand making gorgeous, feminine shoes to fit. She primarily uses vintage Japanese kimono fabrics: relics of a disappearing world, saturated in significance and hidden meanings. The colours and folds signify various seasons, occasion, status and the personal taste of the wearer.

Hetty Rose Shoe

Hetty Rose Shoe

You too could make a stunning pair of shoes like these or a pair of ballet pumps as Hetty is holding a shoe making workshop at Northampton Museum in March and in July.

The designs are simple, yet provocative, designed to make the foot appear more attractive. The collaboration of colours, materials, service and directional design result in unique, wearable footwear.

Find out more about our Shoe Making workshop by going to our website

Shoe of the Month – “Maria” Children’s Shoes

“Maria” Children’s Shoes

It is The British Heart Foundation Wear Red Day on 6th February and Valentine’s Day on the 14th.

To mark these occasions, Northampton Museum & Art Gallery are delighted to have received a donation of a pair of stunning red “Maria” children’s shoes by design house Vevian.

This classic patent leather shoe with a bow ribbon fastening comes in a beautifully handcrafted wooden shoes box and is one of their most popular styles.

Maria Children's Shoes by Vevian

Maria Children’s Shoes by Vevian

These will be on display  at the museum this month. To find out our opening times please go to our website

Shoe of the Month – Women’s Shoe 1640-1650

Women’s Shoe 1640-1650

Shoes from the 1590s and the beginning of the seventeenth century are rare survivors. This womens’ shoe is an example from 1640 – 1650. The latchet style and a ribbon or leather cord would have been threaded through the latchet holes to keep the shoe on. It has a reasonably high wooden heel covered in leather. It would have been hand sewn and because it is a concealed shoe it has been well worn and shows signs of repair. Concealed shoes are an item of footwear deliberately hidden in buildings.

Shoemaking was making its mark in contemporary society in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as illustrated by The Shoemaker’s Holiday – a romantic comedy written by Thomas Dekker probably in 1599. Dekker’s play reflected the new interest in shoemaking, which was one of the most important trades at this time replacing England’s woollen trade. The truly beautiful alum tanned shoes with exquisitely fine cut work, pinking and razed patterns of the late Elizabethan and early seventeenth century are fine examples of the shoemaker’s craft and skill.

Women's Shoe 1640-1650

Women’s Shoe 1640-1650

The Shoemaker’s Holiday is currently being performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company at Strafford until 7 March 2015. The director, Philip Bream and the movement and stage designer came to visit the Shoe Collection at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery for more inspiration and to look at shoes and discuss the shoe trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

To find out more about The Shoemaker’s Holiday go to