It’s fair to say Jessica Taft Langdon has always had a thing for shoes. Take, for instance, that time in kindergarten when she came home from the zoo psyched to tell her mom not about the giraffes, monkeys, or penguins but about all the awesome sneakers she saw. “I really love how much your life is shown off in the wear of your shoes,” Jessica explains. “I love the fact that they’re your shell, your protection against the world.”
It wasn’t until 2001 that Jessica went legit with her footwear fetish, enrolling in a post-graduate accessories program at NYU and then studying at Milan’s Ars Sutoria, an institute focused on the technical aspects of shoemaking. After stints at Coach, Catherine Malandrino, Franco Sarto, Proenza Schouler, and Alexander Wang (whoa, right?!), Jessica headed to L.A.—her husband works in the entertainment biz—and almost instantly met a collaborator, Bryan Sanderson of the globally minded shop Weltenbuerger.
The duo worked on two collections together—which gave Jessica the nerve, in 2014, to strike out on her own and launch The Palatines, a line of slick, ladylike slide sandals, booties, and slingbacks. “The whole thing has been a total dream,” she says. “It’s been fun and scary and exciting and tons more work than I expected. It’s been fantastic.” —olivia seely