Dubbed "Special Delivery to 10022-SHOE," the venture introduces capsule shoe collections from a handful of up-and-coming designers.
The first Special Delivery brings together 20 new styles from a half-dozen designers. Of these, two designers and several styles are exclusive to Saks. The spring collection will retail at the New York City and Beverly Hills, Calif. branches of the department store.
Consultants from Saks' fashion office and the ranks of buyers narrowed the field of emerging talent and chose these six standouts.
The designers range from an American expat in Italy (Heather Williams) to a British former advertising executive (Rupert Sanderson). Each has an impressive footwear background, a young company and a fresh, creatively rich approach.
The team sought the most eye-catching styles from each designer.
"Normally, when a collection is bought, the team tries to create a mix of everyday styles with those that are truly one-of-a-kind," Cody Kondo, senior vice president and general merchandising manager of Saks Fifth Avenue, explains to StyleList.
"With Special Delivery, the team selected those styles that were unlike anything else being shown... those shoes that the merchants fell in love with."
A noteworthy trend among these designers is the use of unusual materials. Eel skin, mesh, wood, mirrored surfaces, Plexiglas and ribbons all come into play.
The designers often dabble in the sandal bootie shape, another major trend. Nearly all of the shoes have vampishly high heels, with the exception of one lower wedge.
The choices from Williams and Daniele Michetti will be available only through Saks. Both designers have a flair for the dramatic. Working in python and embossed leather, Williams created strappy sandals with curving vamps edged in zipper teeth.
Michetti's contributions include larkspur-blue platform pumps and black sandal booties with corset lacing up the back. Michetti became one to watch after winning a "Who Is On Next?" award from Vogue Italia in 2009.
Another Saks exclusive will be a printed python gladiator bootie designed by Jonathan Kelsey. Kelsey, who's also known as Mulberry's shoe designer, was inspired by science fiction and Pharaonic Egypt, hence the gleaming gold and ancient-meets-futurist decorative details.
Gianvito Rossi's looks are much simpler. The son of famed shoemaker Sergio Rossi, Gianvito aims to "make shoes with as few ornamental effects as possible." Simple doesn't mean plain, however. In one stiletto style, black mesh straps slalom up to a sexy black ribbon ankle tie.
Sanderson, too, pares down his shoe designs for a more graphic effect. He's a materials nut, focusing on the leathers and fabrics. Saks snapped up yellow patent leather T-straps with flame-shaped cutouts, lizard sandals and raw-edged, black leather cutout heels with zippers at the back.
Diego Dolcini may have the most playful use of materials of them all. Dolcini once studied architecture; that background influences his constructions.
For instance, one pair of metallic leather sandals has an angular heel made from wood, Plexiglas and a mirrored layer at the back that flashes while you walk.
Such unique looks don't come cheap! Shoes in this collection start at $495; most cost between $725 and $850.
Special Deliveries will be made at least twice a year, for fall and spring, with the possibility of a cruise collection as well. They'll hopefully expand into online sales, too.
So now women have yet more reasons to become passionately attached to their shoes.