Zandra Rhodes, John Fluevog and the Good Vibrations of Their New Line

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LONDON — From the moment, decades ago, that Zandra Rhodes bought her first pair of “mad, green suede Fluevog platforms,” she was hooked on the jazzy styles that have been around since 1970.

“It was one of my wonderful customers who introduced me to Fluevogs. I wore my first pair with a green velvet suit. They are way-out classics, and far more comfortable than they look,” said the designer, who earlier this this month unveiled her first collaboration with the Canadian footwear designer John Fluevog.

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“Fluevogs are for tripping the light fantastic,” she said.

Rhodes has worked her signature 1970s Wiggle prints and blindingly bright colors into five Fluevog styles, and added gold bows and ruffles, giving a whole new spin on statement dressing.

“They all have Zandra’s energy, emotions and feelings,” said Fluevog in a joint Zoom interview with Rhodes.

“She’s infused new life into them, and they’re as much about the fabrics as the shapes. They’re about celebration. There’s an abandonment of ‘norms’ in the collab, which is so fun. Zandra has always had a joy of life, which is something that can go missing in designer work at times,” added Fluevog.

The Fluevog Munster shoe with Zandra Rhodes’ ruffles and Wiggle prints.
The Fluevog Munster shoe with Zandra Rhodes’ ruffles and Wiggle prints.

Rich, saturated pink, which is also the color of Rhodes’ hair, plays a starring role in this limited-edition collection: It comes as a ruffle on the Munster Max style; on the sole of the 7th Heaven Derby Swirl, and on the chunky kitten heel of the Mini Bips.

While Rhodes and Fluevog have much in common, and had admired one another’s style for years, they never worked together.

“We were there: we lived through the ’60s and the ’70s, and that energy doesn’t disappear. It pops out all the time,” said Fluevog, adding that he was happy to “introduce Zandra to our audience. There’s been a real synergy to the way we’ve been working.”

Rhodes adapted her Wiggle Flower, Stripy Wiggle and Swirly Wiggle Flower designs to the Fluevog styles. The limited-edition collection ranges in price from $349 for the Bips to $529 for the Ruffle Elektra. The styles are selling at the 24 John Fluevog stores worldwide, and online.

Asked about his customers today, Fluevog said they span a range of ages and are people who like to “dress up and be part of another world. They’re people of an artistic bent, and storytellers themselves.”

Every year there’s an International Fluevog Day, and a Flummunity Fest where customers get together to celebrate the designs.

Fluevog has long had a loyal following: His earliest customers included The Beach Boys, Alice Cooper and Robert Altman. Madonna wore a version of the Munster in the film “Truth or Dare.”

The Fluevog Mini Zaza with Zandra Rhodes’ bespoke prints. - Credit: Courtesy image
The Fluevog Mini Zaza with Zandra Rhodes’ bespoke prints. - Credit: Courtesy image

Courtesy image

In the ‘80s, Fluevog became known for his Angel Soles, which are made from 100 percent natural latex harvested from the Hevea Tree. The soles are inscribed with the phrase: “Resists alkali, water, acid, fatigue and Satan.” The shoes with those soles continue to be among Fluevog’s bestsellers.

His shoes are also made from eco-friendly vegetable tanned leathers and water-based glues. One of the company’s mottos is “Good soles leave small prints (no matter what your shoe size).” The shoes are produced in small runs, and are fully repairable.

Fluevog said he’s not really one for collaborations, but he was never going to pass up an opportunity to work with Rhodes. He said that while he admires Rhodes’ designs, he also likes the fact that her company, like his, has remained independent, and that her brand has staying power.

“She’s spent a lifetime in this industry and has a rare combination of qualities,” Fluevog said.

Indeed, Rhodes never rests: She’s still designing textiles and clothing from her studio at London’s Fashion and Textile Museum, which she founded. She designs costumes for the state and has recently collaborated with brands including Happy Socks, Ikea and Free People.

“I love designing, and I’m lucky to be working. It’s still an adventure, and I only do what I love,” she said.

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