If the shoe fits, Kristina Cavallo has probably worn it.
“Shoes are my passion in life,” she says.
How crazy is Kristina for footwear? Well, she’s just moved into a two-bedroom condo in New Rochelle, where she grew up. One bedroom is for her. And one bedroom is for … you guessed it.
“I just wanted to have it to display them,” Kristina says. “To me they’re artistic.”
If shoes are objets d’art, then she is their curator, creating a space with off-white shelves and a glass island – above which hangs a chandelier – to feature more than 400 pairs.
“For me, it’s a personality thing,” she says. “You put on a shoe and it represents how you feel. I have trendy shoes, conservative shoes, pointy shoes, Manolo Blahniks. I’ll put on a shoe to match my mood. If I’m shopping for an outfit for a special occasion, I’ll buy the shoes first.”
More than half of her collection consists of platforms. “They’re pleasing to the eye and pleasing to walk in,” she says. Many of her shoes sparkle, like her silvery pink Christian Louboutin Daffodile Strass platforms, bedecked in Swarovski crystals. “They’re breathtaking,” says Kristina, who plunked down more than $6,000 for them and has yet to take them for a test-drive. (That might change with a special birthday approaching Feb. 24.)
Louboutin is something of a fave. She has a glittery pair of Louboutins that the designer signed for her three years ago when she met him at Bergdorf Goodman, four Louboutin Barbie dolls, a drawing of red-soled Louboutins and 13 Louboutin nail polishes. But then, Valentino, Jimmy Choo and other usual suspects are also well represented. Being a connoisseur, Kristina has an eye for those brands that may not immediately spring to mind, like the edgy Sophia Webster, with her colorful cutouts, dominatrix lace-ups and winged flights of fancy that might’ve tempted fleet-footed Mercury himself.
Kristina’s shoe room is arranged by type. There’s an area for boots and one for UGGs and even a dedicated space for some 10 staple handbags by Balenciaga, Chanel, Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton.
About 80 percent of the shoes come from Neiman Marcus Westchester in White Plains. Kristina points to the friendly resourcefulness of the staff.
“(Jimmy Choo designated sales associate) Stephanie Ramos and (shoe department manager) David Yeung find things that scream my name and call me in.”
And the bubbly Kristina – who happens to have a most accommodating shoe size, 7½ to 8 medium – is happy to oblige.
Her stewardship of the collection extends to its care as well, from dusting the shelves and cleaning the chandelier to maintaining the shoes. (Kristina favors Occhicone Fine Leather Goods in Port Chester.)
To her, this is an expression of Girl Power.
“Girls don’t dress for guys anymore,” she says. “They dress for other girls.”
Kristina’s more than happy to dress up and turn heads with a little cleavage – that’s toe cleavage, revealed in a swanky peep-toe pump.
It’s been that way since she was Sweet 16 and wore a sequined pants and top ensemble designed for her by Marc Bouwer to the party.
“I always had to be different,” says the fashionista.
Still, she decided to forgo a career in fashion to join her father’s insurance business, Patrick J. Cavallo Agency in the Bronx. It’s now 50 years old and Kristina is co-owner.
“I’ve thought about designing on the side,” she says. “But I love what I do and I’m grateful for it as it helps me afford my wonderful addiction.”
So Kristina will stick with the insurance business and continue to post photographs of her collection and its exhibit space on Instagram (Live Love Laugh and buy shoes).
“To me, it’s something that makes me happy and lifts my spirits.”