Shirley Ibe’s stiletto stock is uplifting — in more ways than one.
Shirley Ibe did not follow her father’s advice. “His mindset has always prioritized quality over quantity,” the makeup artist shares of her dad’s shopping mantra. But with around 250 pairs of designer heels (recently reduced from 400 after a closet cleaning), she says she chose both. “I definitely went to the extreme in terms of quantity,” she laughs.
Growing up in Canada, Libya and Malaysia, Ibe has always loved beautiful things. The collector credits her parents for nurturing her passions, whether they took the form of cosmetics or clothing. “I grew up in a home where appearance was important,” she reveals. “My mom was one of those women who always looked well-dressed, and I never, ever saw my dad in jeans.”
Although Ibe’s initial infatuation with designer high heels came from his family, it wasn’t until college that his adoration became an obsession. “My girlfriends and I used to go out in matching outfits all the time,” she says. “We started getting recognition for our fashion, that’s when I really started building my shoe collection.” As a student, Ibe started her collection with more wallet-friendly items, but that all changed once her late father introduced her to the world of designer shoes. “I don’t know what triggered it, but during a Christmas vacation in Florida in 2004, he decided to buy me, my sister and my mother, each something designer,” Ibe says. In what she describes as a 21-year-old girl’s dream, her father took her to Dior, where she picked out her very first pair of luxury sandals.
Now housed in a walk-in closet in her Calgary home, her assortment has grown to include a candy land of colors and brand names and includes luxury brands such as Chanel, Gucci, Manolo Blahnik , Saint Laurent and Versace. With so many styles to choose from, Ibe tends to dress bottom up. “I think about what outfit I can wear with certain shoes versus what shoes I can wear with a specific outfit,” she notes.
Citing Rihanna as her fashion inspiration, the collector describes her own aesthetic as “colorful, eclectic and fun” and says she looks for shoes that fit those same criteria. Continuing with this more is more mentality, Ibe loves high heels. Among her tallest are a pair of Christian Louboutin “Equestria” platform boots with a 16-centimeter heel. “I’ve never had trouble walking on platforms,” she shares. “I have always found them comfortable.” That said, the aficionado also admits that she’s never been one to give in to defeat. “Heels are a commitment,” she says. “If I’m going to wear them, then I’m going to wear them. I don’t care how my feet feel.
Although she sometimes feels guilty about her vast stash of designer heels, Ibe isn’t ashamed to buy things that bring her joy. “Some days I’m like, ‘Man, you got a lot of shoes,'” she recalled. “But they are an art form. I really appreciate the craftsmanship and design behind them. She often finds herself standing in her closet, basking in all the glory of her collection. “My mom always told me that heels lift you both physically and mentally, and she was right,” Ibe says. “The power of a heel is that it can make you feel sexier and more confident. The transformation is instant.
Click through the gallery below to see more of Ibe’s collection of designer heels.
This article first appeared in THE FASHION Can emit. Learn more here.