Jutta Neumann rocks. The German-born sandal-designing Neumann spent much of her time in Paris in the '80s, studying theatre and dance during an era during which most things Parisian included fashion. Her seguay from the art to fashion scene was made through a foray into ready-to-wear clothing for women, but it was during her migration to Manhattan's East Village (when she apprenticed with a leather crafter) that Jutta discovered a new muse. In 1994, the newly single mom, driven by the neccessity of doing something fierce, fast, and close to home, fortuitously snapped up the available downstairs storefront and set up a shop of her own. Not unlike the panther featured in her signature logo and stamp, the very driven Jutta went to work her magic on beautiful bags, shoes and accessories using the softest of garment leather. The resulting designs have became legendary and Jutta was soon collaborating and designing for designers Anna Sui, John Bartlett, Mark Eisen, and Perry Ellis.

Locally renowned as the Godmother of the recent highly popularly "interpreted" leather wristband craze, Neumann's loyal celebrity fans spanning all angles of the film, art and music industry spectrum - from the Smashing Pumpkins all the way to the Spice Girls - flock to her East Village shop for the original Jutta fix. Amazing quality and intuitive styling that takes chances (with fifty available striking colors to choose from) make her other accessories equally magnetic. She makes it clear that she loves what she does. Soft supple clothing leather that molds to the body is used for her bags, and although her shoe shapes are simple, they are all unmistakably Jutta. Try as they might (and they do) even the best copycats can't hold a candle.

The House of Celine recently approached her to design shoes for their label, but reconsidering their offer under the strict direction of the French Couture, decided to use a Parisian team which fared them a fairly decent knock off. We recently discovered a shocking Miu Miu version of Jutta, that has rattled even the buying world in an almost sacreligious way. True fans can spot an imposter, and travel miles to get the real thing. Visit Jutta Neumann's recent migration from East Ninth Street to 158 Allen below Houston. 212-982-7048. Open Tues-Sat 12-8. Sandals for all year round.

The Jutta Neumann Guide to Leather Sandal Upkeep:

Keep in mind that leather is o r g a n i c - it will stretch, crease, show scratches, and might not take dye in a uniform fashion. This is what makes leather cool - and should not be viewed as flawed in any way.

When breaking in a new sandal - try rubbing Vaseline on the INSIDE - to soften it. Most non-chemical substances won't stain leather. If you have a spill - oil based or otherwise - massage the stain until it dissipates. If you need to wash anything else off the leather - use warm water - and wash the entire item evenly to avoid spotting.

If you get caught in the rain and get your leather sandals soaking wet - let them dry completely before you wear them again.

Oil the leather soles from time to time. Be sure to use a mineral oil and not vegetable.

Fashion Icon
Fall 1999