The world of Aden Wohl x Cri de Coeur is a compelling one. Colorful, intuitive and enchanting. Here the trio of footwear designers let SHK in on the spirituality within the brand, why clear heels are cool, why it’s important to have a “slow fashion” mentality and why shoes are a glimpse into the soul.

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As little girls, our favorite moments were the ones when mom or grandma weren’t looking. The interest in mining through boxes of jewelry had past, but what never subsided was the excitement of sneaking into the secret world of her closet, which felt almost like it was being guarded by junkyard dogs, something completely off zones. There was her collection of pumps, perfectly tucked in lines from pretty to prettier. While inside, we slipped our tiny un-manicured feet into the depth of the shoe, and pranced around with a few inches of space behind the heel. A girl’s first feeling of rebellion… The first recollection of the yearning to be confident and successful, and introspectively, the wanting of her elegant structured pump, reflecting the most quiet and beautiful confidence. Arden Wohl x Cri de Coeur bond with this memory because they believe the idea of footwear is much deeper than first thought. They believe in shoes that stand the test of time and that what we wear on our feet is the ultimate form of expression.

The trio of designers, Gina Ferraraccio, Julie Dicterow and Arden Wohl, found quiet confidence (the kind I spoke of before) in a painting of a woman in the portrait of Adele Block-Bauer. They treasure how a woman’s inner beauty can really come to the surface with what they appear like on the outside. This, we imagine, was the start of a beautiful collection. In this feature, we continue to wear our hearts on our sleeves, or in this case on our feet. — EMILY MARUCCI

SHK: GOOGLE TELLS ME CRI DE COEUR MEANS A PASSIONATE OUTCRY (AN APPEAL OR PROTEST) FROM THE HEART. CAN YOU TELL ME HOW YOU RELATE TO THIS SENTIMENT? IT’S QUITE DEEP.

JULIE: “Cry from the Heart” is how we interpret this French statement. It is very literally just that, a passionate appeal. Our hope is to attract the attention of the mass fashion market, and that curiosity in our passion will follow along with understanding of our cause. To us, it’s incongruous to financially support or physically promote a fashion system that doesn’t resonate with the system by which we live our lives, and enhance how we want to feel as human beings. We don’t understand how using the dead skins and furs of animals makes one feel alive.

I FEEL LIKE A LOT OF GIRLS DON’T APPRECIATE A GOOD SHOE. YOU CAN FIND COPIES OF EVERY GREAT SHOE FOR CHEAP. YOU CAN FIND $30 BOOTS AT FOREVER 21. THEY NEVER LAST, BUT PEOPLE ARE STILL BUYING IT. I THINK IT’S SO IMPORTANT FOR A WOMAN TO HAVE A GOOD SHOE THAT WILL LAST. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

ARDEN: Quality is obviously very important for any purchase, but naturally women also need shoes for every occasion (wink, wink), and for those on a budget, it’s not possible to buy several pairs of very expensive shoes. We think that purchasing amazing fashionable shoes that stand the test of time is not only responsible to your wallet, but also to the environment. Our re-appropriated shoes retail for under $500, and every part of the construction is vegan. The general consumer mindset is gradually shifting to a more “slow fashion” mentality, and Arden Wohl x Cri de Coeur is an affordable manifestation of that.

SPIRITUALITY, IMAGINATION, DREAMS… TELL US HOW ARE YOU SPIRITUAL?

JULIE: I’m discovering a stronger connection to the “self” and how that “self” is connected to the “whole.” I meditate and read spiritual literature; right now I am reading Upanishads…. It is amazing to feel access to Joy instead of dwelling on the sadness and pain that used to be such a part of who I was. I have changed that through a spiritual awakening that has allowed me to love myself, and through that, love others. Arden is also very spiritual with her connection to Kabbalah. The three of us (including Gina) feel very connected to the earth, to the animals and a collective people moving towards a more compassionate lifestyle. Now is a very important moment in history.

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WHAT WAS YOUR IMAGINATION LIKE WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD? 

JULIE: I had a very active imagination! My favorite childhood experiences were making up my own games and songs. I am musician as well [Julie is the Oh Halo lead singer], and I was always writing songs about the life I wanted.

WHAT DID YOU DREAM LAST NIGHT?

JULIE: I had a dream where I was approached by a beautiful creature of light that had octopus-like tentacles that were attached to me, and a line of people behind me. I was very closely facing this light source, and the being told me that I should turn around and share the shine on others, that the light wouldn’t service me unless it passed through me, and that fundamentally we were all inter-connected to the light.

VEGAN FOOTWEAR. WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO HAVE A CRUELTY-FREE BRAND AMONGST MANY BRANDS THAT DON’T SEEM TO CARE AT ALL?

ARDEN: To us, the suffering of animals is a hard reality the fashion industry could avoid supporting. Fashion is about self-expression: and as designers that means we wear our hearts on our sleeves (or in this case, our feet). The Arden Wohl x Cri de Coeur business is modeled on tenets of love and kindness, and we do our best to share these beliefs. We as a society are entering a new realm of what it means to have style, to us Style means creating a positive impact on the earth, each other and the lives of animals.

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DO YOU HAVE ANY PETS THAT YOU SHARE YOUR BED WITH? 

JULIE + ARDEN: We each share our beds with our cats! We are all crazy cat ladies. 

THE SS14 COLLECTION WAS INSPIRED BY THE  PORTRAIT OF ADELE BLOCH-BAUER. AT ONE TIME IT WAS AT ONE TIME THE MOST EXPENSIVE PAINTING TO EXIST. BUT I HAVE A FEELING THAT’S NOT WHY YOU WERE TOUCHED BY IT. HOW DID THE PAINTING MAKE YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FIRST LAID EYES ON IT?

ARDEN: The use of gold in Klimt’s paintings is what yielded great wealth for him. We are collectively drawn to the energy of commerce, and believe that if you spend money wisely and with pure intentions, it will come back to you. This concept has helped us feel at ease about the investment necessary to have your own business. Setting and following our company’s cruelty-free, environmentally responsible standards will lead to reward later in our lives. When we first laid eyes on Bloch-Bauer, we felt a connection to the female subject’s sweet sadness and quiet confidence. The colors and texture in the painting manage to enhance the woman’s inner beauty brings it to the surface for all to see.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN BREAKING AWAY FROM THE TRADITIONAL WAYS OF FASHION?

ARDEN: I love mixing tradition with something new. I break away from the norm only after I feel I have exhausted it.

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I LOVED HOW IN THE PRESENTATION THE MODELS WERE JUST WEARING LINGERIE. I LIKED THE SIMPLICITY ON THE TOP, THE BARENESS OF THE LEGS, AND THEN THE INTRICACY OF THE SHOES. CAN YOU TELL ME HOW YOU CAME TO THIS CONCLUSION?

ARDEN: We wanted the presentation to be about the shoes and how they can make a woman feel powerful. She is strong and beautiful even when pared down.

WHY CLEAR HEELS?

ARDEN: Lucite is so elegant! We also like that the translucency transforms a woman’s path part of her overall style and look.

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LASTLY, TELL US ONE THING TO SEE, HEAR AND KNOW.

JULIE + ARDEN:

SEE your dreams come true.

HEAR your own voice.

KNOW yourself.

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