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The Annual SF Shoe Party: Inspired by Architecture and Pastries

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Photos via Marcus Colombano

By day, Marcus Colombano is a marketing expert running his own firm, Avantgarde. By night he's the mastermind behind San Francisco's St. Crispin's Day party, a celebration of footwear. St. Crispin and his twin brother Crispinian were cobblers during the 3rd century A.D. who made footwear by day, and preached Catholicism to the Gauls by night. Legend has it they were beheaded for their efforts (the religious ones). They were named saints, and shoemakers around the world took off work on October 25 in memorium.

The holiday never really caught on in the United States, but Colombano just might make it happen. Every October for the past dozen years, he has hosted a shoe party, encouraging guests to wear their favorite or most interesting shoes—that can mean anything from Chanel to Chuck Taylors—while they toast the Saints Crispin. Read on to find out how to get in this year (2013 will be the fete's 13th year running!), and check out photos from previous shoe parties in the gallery.

What inspired throwing a shoe party?

I was always interested in doing a shoe party, and I fortuitously discovered St. Crispin's Day, which is on October 25. Crispin and his brother were twins who became the patron saints of shoemakers around the world.

Have you always been interested in shoes?

Not really, but I have a strong background in architecture and photography and shoes are so architectural and sculptural. I also have a huge interest in pastries—I'm a baker and that also has a similar background. I think a lot of successful shoe designers are sculptors and architects. And a successfull pastry is an excersize in creating structure and trying to make the impossible happen, like shoes—at least interesting, exciting shoes. They're an attempt to make things seem almost unnatural. A lot of successful modern architecture effectively designs things that people could not have conceived of. There are interesting parallels in all three of those. People try to wear these things and sometimes the true success of a shoe designer is to create something that is able to make the impossible happen, but also potentially make it comfortable for the wearer. There are very few people who do both.

So true! How many people come to the parties usually?

It ranges, it doesn't end up being a massive event, but when it started there were maybe 20 people, now it's up to about 75. And it's nice because we have people who come on a regular basis.

Where do you have the party?

We've had it at a number of places in the past 12 years. More often than not it's been at Nihon Whiskey Bar. We used to throw it at Orson, which was a much bigger space and really cool, but as you know it has closed down. We will go back to Nihon this year.

How can someone get invited if they're interested?

They should like the Facebook page. I was using the same email list for years, but Facebook will be better for connecting with new people. I think the idea of the party getting bigger is fantastic. It's been small and we've focused on local SF designers. However, I've been interested in doing parallel shoe parties in New York when we do SF. I've never understood by more poeple don't align events with St. Crispin's Day.

What do you tell people about what type of shoes to wear to the event?

The context is you wear your favorite pair of shoes, or your sexiest, or most comfortable—the shoes that you feel best represent who you are. But the critical thing is to have fun and express yourself through shoes. Don't take yourself so seriously.
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