When Arden Wohl made the commitment to a cruelty-free wardrobe, she knew where to go for chic vegan shoes -- New York-based label Cri de Coeur.
The musician, filmmaker, writer, and designer was drawn to the label's ethical mission -- "Why should animals suffer and die cruel deaths just so we can look good?" she said -- but she was also enamored of its overall approach to shoes. "The Cri de Coeur brand doesn't focus on vegan issues solely, the brand has deeply rooted ideas about design and fashion."
And it wasn't long before Arden ran into Cri de Coeur's founders, designers Gina Ferraraccio and Julie Dicterow, at a fashion charity event. The three hit it off, and they began collaborating soon after. Their first jointly-designed footwear hit stores this spring, and the fall offerings will be available mid-September.
Arden Wohl x CDC combines Cri de Coeur's edgy downtown style with Arden's more free-flowing feminine vibe. For spring, Arden looked to Gustav Klimt's famed muse Adele Bloch-Bauer for design inspiration, and that influence translated into lush floral patterns, sparkles, and lucite, balanced with a hint of masculinity in vegan leather and strong angles, on everything from pumps to smoking slippers.
"[Bloch-Bauer was] a woman of many talents, one of them being the ability to bring artists and musicians together for high-society salons where collaborations and friendships were born," Arden said. "[Klimt] captures her strength and also her self-doubts in the gaze of her eyes."
Art also influenced the fall collection, with shades of European Symbolism and a subtle homage to the artist Gabriel Dante Rossetti coming through on boots, flats, and heels, according to the designers. Think tapestry, jewel prints and strong colors. The trio is also moving beyond shoes to collaborate on a handbag collection for the season.
"The vision has come together so beautifully and organically…" Arden said. "[Gina and Julie] are intellectuals and understand how we can bridge this idea of design, ideology, and activism while making it chic and cool for all people with all theories about life -- not just vegans. However, hopefully we are spreading the [cruelty-free] message to another generation of fashionistas and offering the alternatives that are equal in design and quality with other trendy contemporary."