I recently had the honor of meeting international fashion designer Donald J. Pliner, at a very special event hosted by Dillard’s in Boise Towne Square. Mr. Pliner proved to be a warm, engaging, and fascinating man; I was captivated by his stories, his journey, and how much of his heart he truly infuses into his designs!
As I interviewed Mr. Pliner for an upcoming TV segment on KTVB news, he shared with us his passion for designing women’s footwear with a true, tangible focus on COMFORT. He truly believes that shoe comfort is directly connected to one’s physical and spiritual health, a notion that was born out of his observations of women across the globe and the impact uncomfortable shoes can have on their lives!
Donald J. Pliner has lived an amazing life. He shared stories with us of birthday celebrations with Michael Jackson at the Neverland ranch; hanging out with Jack Nicholson, who shopped frequently in his L.A. store; and more recently, designing custom footwear for musical legend Elton John. He also explained how every line of shoes is infused with personal details, like the green soles that represent his wife Lisa’s gorgeous green eyes, or the date of his daughter’s birth stitched on a pair of driving shoes, or the skulls that remind him of the heartbreak of a child they lost very young. In honor of that precious life, and their young daughter blossoming before their eyes, Donald and Lisa founded a charity called Peace for the Children, which builds state-of-the-art playgrounds for children in under-privileged areas.
Mr. Pliner shared so much of his heart, his vision for his design line, and his personal stories, that I felt like a star-struck child learning at the foot of a great master. I never wanted the day to end! At one point I asked him, “Is someone writing down all your amazing stories? Is anyone recording all the little personal touches you put into your shoe designs?” He paused for a moment, and seemed to fight back some emotions before answering me: “Yes, I have been talking to someone about putting a book together.” I dearly hope Mr. Pliner writes his book someday; I, for one, will be first in line to read his amazing stories of a life filled with highs, lows, heartache, and triumph! And in the meantime, every pair of Donald J. Pliner shoes I come across, I will study with greater curiosity than before, wondering what secrets, what stories each shoe holds. That extra personal touch is, to me, what makes a designer truly great.