The 2019 Footwear News Achievement Awards brought together some of the biggest names in fashion and entertainment in New York City on Tuesday night, with the likes of Paris and Nicky Hilton, Billy Porter, Christie Brinkley, J Balvin, Tommy Hilfiger and Tove Lo stepping out to honor the best in footwear.
The so-called "Shoe Oscars" were held at the IAC Headquarters in West Chelsea, where industry titans like Donna Karan, Steve Madden, Tommy Hilfiger and Bob Campbell were among the honorees. The star-studded list of presenters, which AOL exclusively announced ahead of the annual ceremony, included Lena Waithe, Adriana Lima, Brandon Maxwell, Kate Graham and more.
On the red carpet ahead of the 33rd annual awards show, Style Influencer of the Year recipient J Balvin told AOL's Gibson Johns about his journey to becoming recognized for the way he dresses himself, explaining that it was just a byproduct of his desire to express himself through his clothing.
"At the end of the day it’s not that I wanted to be a fashion guy, it’s just that I wanted to express myself," he explained. "When you’re like, 'I want to be a fashion guy,' it’s weird. It doesn’t have to be about brands, but you have to be comfortable. You must feel good in your clothes -- that’s what matters."
"Cool Girl" hitmaker Tove Lo echoed those sentiments, explaining that her footwear of choice for the evening -- Dr Martens! -- was all about comfort, both physical and spiritual.
"Doc Martens are a shoe that I’ve worn my whole life. To be part of this is really cool," she told AOL. "I’m not good with heels -- not my thing. But [my shoes] still need to have a bit of attitude, so Docs are perfect for me. I love performing in them."
For "Pose" star, Billy Porter, his footwear of choice doesn't necessarily come down to comfort, rather, it's about the feeling that he gets from his shoes.
"I like a pump! My mother is disabled and she’s never been able to wear heels, and one of her biggest dreams was to be able to wear heels. I don’t know, but I sort of took that on and I’ve been wearing them by proxy for her for years," he told us. "I got the chance to do that 'Kinky Boots' thing, and it was like I’ve never felt more grounded and more present in myself than I do when I’m in a real good pump. It’s powerful!"
Supermodel Christie Brinkley feels the same way about the power that wearing heels gives her, revealing that, even if a photo shoot only shows her from the waist up, she'll still opt to wear a pair of high heels for an extra jolt of fierceness.
"When I'm doing a photo, it could be a portrait, but I’ll put the heels on just because it makes me feel empowered," she smiled. "Most models are the same. It just gives you that feeling of strength and sexiness."
That being said, if she had it her way, she wouldn't be wearing shoes at all: "When I get home, I put on a robe and run around barefoot. I grew up in Malibu, so barefoot feels like home."