Monday 5 December 2016

Happy feet: Young and glamorous Irish designer

Photography by Patrick McHugh, words by Andrea Byrne and fashion edited by Constance Harris

Published 12/12/2010 | 05:00

Silk chemise, €145, Susan Hunter. Nappa-leather ankle-boots with
hand-dyed goose and pheasant feathers, €865, Nina Divito
Silk chemise, €145, Susan Hunter. Nappa-leather ankle-boots with hand-dyed goose and pheasant feathers, €865, Nina Divito
Silk dress, €480, Eilis Boyle, Bow. Leather shoes with silk-organdie rose detail, €635, Nina Divito
Net dress with lace overdress, €1,300, Eilis Boyle, Bow. Nappa-leather shoes with couture-lace detail, €625, Nina Divito
Dress, €280, Eilis Boyle, Bow. Nappa-leather shoes with hand-dyed goose and pheasant feathers, €760, Nina Divito. Ring, €70, Kenneth Jay Lane, Rebecca Davis

Not content with being a successful painter and shoe designer, the young and glamorous Nina Divito can now add "retailer" to her CV. She has opened a new store in Dublin's Westbury Mall, where she sells both her paintings and her footwear collection. The Westbury Mall is the perfect location for a shop like Nina's, having transformed into a young, bijou shopping destination, a bit like the Burlington Arcade in London.

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It's the antithesis of this very likeable young woman's previous arrangement, which involved locking herself in her Foxrock studio, designing and painting, with only the radio and two dogs for company. "I always dreamed of doing it, but I never thought it was possible," she says of her venture. "It's so reassuring; you have a bad day, or you're stressed about bills, and all it takes is for two or three customers to come in and it's fine again."

Having her own shop also affords Nina the opportunity to see the reactions of customers, and get their feedback. Already she has learned so much, she says, and she feels the experience of having her own shop will improve her as a designer.

Proving that, even in these times of financial uncertainty, the Carrie Bradshaw-induced love of sexy, vertiginous footwear hasn't dissipated, Nina's debut collection sold out in Brown Thomas. Her current collection -- which sits alongside such heavyweights as Christian Louboutin and Jimmy Choo -- is selling fast.

Nina's footwear is for women who are strong and powerful, but who want to look feminine and sexy. Her shoes, which have cushioned soles and are engineered by the world's best shoemakers, are comfortable, too. "As a woman, comfort is a big issue for me. I'm over in Italian factories, surrounded by men, and I get this burning ambition to make them understand, 'Hold on a minute -- you guys don't wear these, we do. This needs to be softer.' I do drive them mad," laughs the young designer, who studied shoe design in The London College of Fashion.

Nina's shoes are high-end, and come with a price tag reflecting that. Her 16-piece autumn/winter collection uses luxurious materials such as python skin, nappa leather and couture lace.

If Nina were based in London or Paris, you can guarantee she'd have the world's celebrities hot-footing it down the red carpet in her designs.

Gorgeous, hardworking, talented and well-connected socially -- her boyfriend is the co-manager of celebrity nightclub Krystle -- is it any wonder everyone in fashion circles is talking about Nina Divito?

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The Nina Divito footwear collection is available from Nina Divito, Unit 12 Westbury Mall, D2, tel: (01) 671-9697, or see www.ninadivito.com and Brown Thomas, Grafton St, D2, tel: (01) 605-6666, or see www.brownthomas.com

Bow, Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, South William St, D2, tel: (01) 707-1763, or see www.bowboutique.ie

Rebecca Davis, Unit 27 Westbury Mall, D2, tel: (01) 764-5694, or see www.rebeccadavis.com

Susan Hunter, Unit 13 Westbury Mall, D2, tel: (01) 679-1271, or see www.susanhunterlingerie.ie

Photography by Patrick McHugh, see www.patrickmchugh.com

Production by Eddie Shanahan, email edmundshanahan@eircom.net

Assisted by Emma Davis

Make-up by Nicolina Divito

Hair by Ivey Sullivan for Morgan The Agency

Model: Amber Jean Rowan for Morgan The Agency

Sunday Independent

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