If memory serves me correctly (and it does - I will NEVER forget this moment), it was a chilly day with that typical damp, grey, cloudy weather we get so much of here in the UK in April. I was at a rugby match with my son, we had just finished our customary burger and a pint and were about to take our seats for kick-off, when my phone pinged with an incoming email. I barely glanced at the screen, it was a Saturday and I was expecting the usual spam nonsense, when two words leaped out and smacked me to full attention: Spice Girls.
I’m the same age as Ginger Spice and anyone with a decade either side of me will tell you that the Spice Girls were MASSIVE in the noughts and ’90s. Spice Mania was a THING! (I mean, come on, everyone knew ALL the lyrics to Wannabe, right?) I remain a massive Spice Girls fan and knew they were planning a new tour and there, on my phone, in my hand, in the grandstand of Allianz Park rugby stadium, was a costume designer asking me if I would be interested in making some crystal shoes for the Spice Girls for their new Spice World tour later that summer.
Are you kidding me? Hell yes!
A week or so later I met Gabriella Slade, the costume designer, and was given several pairs of designer trainers and many pairs of custom-made dance shoes by LaDuca, belonging to the four girls, all of which required considerable embellishment with gorgeous Swarovski crystals. What an opportunity! I was in heaven.
I already knew that “more is more” where stage wear is concerned, but the Spice World shoes and costumes took blinging to a new level. A highlight was working alongside the team from Bang London as they completed Mel B’s leopard catsuit. That outfit was literally dripping in crystals! It was so heavy!! Thousands and thousands, all applied individually by hand.
I was on the desk next to them embellishing the matching boots. Jet, Crystal Golden Shadow, Dorado, Metallic Sunshine - on they went, packet after packet of SS20 crystals. The catsuit and boots together were simply jaw-dropping, as anyone who saw Mel on stage will attest.
Gabi has the most incredible eye for colour. Following her designs, I stoned Capri Blue onto Nike Air Max 1’s, Jet & Light Siam onto Stella McCartney Eclypse sneakers, and Crystal onto Louis Vuitton Archlights for Mel C; Crystal AB and Siam Shimmer on shoes for Emma. Geri wore a fantastic pair of heels covered in Crystal Golden Shadow and Indian Siam, and cabochon pearls on a pair of bootees, and Mel B had Citrine smothered over another
Making crystal footwear for performers is different from making shoes for, say, brides. The latter requires precision work as the shoes will be examined up close and need to be perfect. This takes time and many different sizes of crystals.
Shoes for the stage need to be made quickly and be durable above everything else. I use a slightly different technique stoning footwear for the stage which makes them quicker to produce and more economical on crystal usage helping with the costume budget! It was essential that the crystals on the Spice Girls’ shoes were hard-wearing too - they had to withstand 15 concerts, plus rehearsals. LaDuca shoes are a dream to stone - they are made from such good quality leather that, with the correct preparation and glue, those little crystals stick firm and rarely shift.
Finally, after several weeks of non-stop work, I got to see the show. It was an amazing feeling seeing the Spice Girls perform live on stage in shoes that only days earlier were on my desk, in my workshop. The show was incredible, the costumes stunning and the girls were magnificent. And yes, I sang along to every song! Viva Forever!
If you like my work and would like to contact me, I can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check out my website www.crystalledbyjane.co.uk or find me on Instagram and Facebook as @crystalledbyjane.