Sole Retrieval

A love affair in Uzbekistan spawns a new footwear line in Manhattan.
by Stella Kae
Tashkent_CheyennePortraitHearing the name of the new women's shoe line Tashkent by Cheyenne, one would think the footwear designer had been informed by a holiday or perhaps a lifetime visiting the far-off city in Uzbekistan. But it turns out that the Manhattan born-and-bred Cheyenne Morris's travels to Tashkent exist only in her creative life…or brain.
Her decadent styles sometimes crafted from soft lamb fur and super supple suede or exotic ostrich leather reference the designer's profound personal connection to the mysterious 2,000-year-old-city. "In my mind, I imagine it to be a bustling, wild city," she says. "During the war, my grandfather was fleeing the Nazis. He walked from Poland to Tashkent where he met this beautiful young girl. They fled Tashkent together for America." That girl was Morris's grandmother.
"A lot of what I know about my grandmother is from pictures and stories. She had been through a war, a concentration camp. She had a rough life, but made it to America. She was a girl who left her home country to brave an unknown future and she did it with strength and love."
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Morris, a former sculptor, began her footwear career when she decided to make a pair of gladiator sandals for her sister's birthday. Suddenly, orders from friends and family came pouring in. She began studying shoe construction at FIT before taking a position as a design assistant for Delman, one of the oldest shoe companies in New York. The education enabled her to begin work on her own line, which debuted this past winter, 2006.
Tashkent's already caused a stir with Morris's signature style, The Cole, a slouchy bootie made of rich, textured suede with a stacked heel, sexy peek-a-boo cutouts, and thick ankle straps. "The Cole can be worn to work or to parties. It's not a trendy shoe that is over in six months," she says.
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As for her design philosophy, Morris admits to a penchant for the juxtaposition of unexpected materials and forms. "I am fascinated by things that should not be together, that somehow have never met and suddenly converged, whether it's an ornament and a leather, or a skin with a fabric," Morris says, referencing her love of exotic skins and imaginative constructions. As for which is her favorite medium, the designer's quest continues. "I am always searching for new fabrics and unusual leathers; I do not think I have found my favorite yet," says Morris. "The search to me is never ending for the best of the best."
Tashkent by Cheyenne is available in New York at Otte, 121 Greenwich Avenue, 212-229-9424. For more information, go to www.tashkentnyc.com.
A love affair in Uzbekistan spawns a new footwear line in Manhattan.
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