By Katia Ostapets
Photography by Karen Mallon
On Jan.24, 2012, Canada’s favourite footwear designer, John Fluevog, was honoured as the Shoe Person of the Year by The Two/Ten Foundation of Canada. The Gala was held at the Bata Shoe Museum in downtown Toronto.
The intimate event played host only to Fluevog’s close friends and family, representatives from the aforementioned charity, Fluevog employees and select members of the industry. Most wore suits in dark colours, with a few men electing to stand out in a blue velvet jacket, pink bowtie or rose boutonnière. The women were classically dressed, many in dark dresses and statement jewelry.
After cocktail hour, guests were escorted to another floor, where large dinner tables were set with salad-green table cloths and lovely centrepieces. On their plate, each guest found a program and a deck of cards depicting Fluevog’s most famous shoes. Each course melted into the next, beginning with a salad, followed by a beef medallion on a bed of vegetables and gnocchi in tomato sauce, garnished with a bouquet of beans and carrots tied together with a bow. After the speeches, the decadent dessert was served – vanilla ice cream and chocolate cake with a golden feuille on top.
The focus of the night was a speech about John Fluevog by his friend of 40 years, Henry Rappaport, a retired entrepreneur and poet. He told Fluevog’s story in three parts: Leaps of Faith or Fools Rush In, What’s in a Line and Wild Blue Yonder.
Rappaport told a tale of a young man, named John, who through a series of serendipitous events and the seizing of opportunities, found himself the owner of a small Vancouver shoe company. After he bought out his partner who was the company’s chief designer, “he had this insight that since he now solely owned a shoe company, that maybe he would need to design some shoes!” joked his long-time friend. That was 40 years ago. Now, he is one of the most celebrated designers in the world.
The speech continued: “The people who know about John Fluevog and his shoes – are crazy about them, because when they put on his shoes, they feel more themselves than they have felt in a long time. That is a fantastic thing to be able to do for people. John is able to do something that is beyond poetic, it is creative and artistic.”
As he accepted the award, Fluevog said: “I’m thankful to be here and for the award. I’m so thankful that I live in a time and age that a small businessman like myself can, in fact, express himself through a commercial vehicle like footwear.”
Fluevog’s shoes are well-known for their incredible style, comfort and frequent humour touches that the designer adds to them. As Rappaport mentioned, the perfect representation of the latter are his famous Angel Soles. On the bottom, next to the picture of angels, one will find the following message: “Resists: alkali, water, acid, fatigue, Satan.”