Terry de Havilland, the man nicknamed the “Rock ‘N’ Roll cobbler,” has died aged 81.
Known for his outré designs and down-to-earth charm, de Havilland was the shoe designer on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. He also had a long list of celebrity clientele, which included David Bowie, Cher and Kate Moss.
Born in Barking, East London, de Havilland began his fashion career at the age of five in the workshop of his parents’ shoe company, Waverly Shoes. The first pair of shoes he designed for the company was an experimental, five-tiered wedge shoe in 1960.
“I was taking a lot of acid at the time,” he told the fashion magazine Drapers. “I made a few pairs and put them on the market. It totally exploded. We were selling them for five guineas,” he said.
As time went on the popularity of his shoes grew. His three-tiered snakeskin wedges became the must-have shoe of the time with them being worn by a growing celebrity fanbase, which included Bianca Jagger and Bette Midler.
He opened a shop on Kings Road, London in 1972 called Cobblers To The World. Regularly visited by London scenesters such as Angie Bowie, Rudolph Nureyev and members of Led Zeppelin, he told the Independent of the time American socialite Lee Radziwill stopped by: “One day this woman came in to buy a pair of leather thigh boots lined in red satin with saucy drawstrings for her sister…it turned out to be Lee Radziwill,” he said, “her sister was Jackie Onassis.”
He created the shoes for Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1975, and for Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001, among other films. His designs are part of the Victoria and Albert’s fashion collection, and have become collectors’ items.
Despite going off the radar towards the end of the 80s after he was forced to close Cobblers and his second label, Kamikaze Shoes, his styles continued to be worn by the likes of Amy Winehouse, Cara Delevingne, Marilyn Manson and Kate Moss. He told the Guardian that “when Geri Halliwell met Nelson Mandela she was wearing our red platforms”.