As part of my series “SHOE FEVER”, this is the story of a dear friend of mine whose love for fashion and designer shoewear (and her fantsatic and well-curated show collection) is defined by her very humble beginnings, and the many challenges she went through during her childhood and teen years.
Mrs. Irma Deihl was born in a very small village called “Madera”, a place nested in the high sierras of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. A town at a very high altitude, where temperatures drop to freezing points, and yet interior heat/pumps and heaters are simply a dream. She is the daughter of a family with a large number of siblings, and was raised like many other children in her little village. Her childhood and home life was one in which basic needs were a concern in their day to day activities. But as a young woman, Mrs. Deihl decided to follow her dreams and made the diffcult choice to leave her large family behind. She ventured to the USA looking to make the famous American Dream come true for her.
The first time I had the fortune to meet Irma at one of the many fundraisers she attends, I was taken by not only her elegance, which is perfectly understated, but I was captured by her shoes! Her response to my notice, which she clearly stated was perfect as well: “These? These are my latest pair from my collection…” And I knew that there had to be a story behind the confidence in that statement.
I found out that this now-fashionista, an admirer of high style and true friend of designer fashion at one point in her life owned only two pair of shoes. Only two. One pair for daily wear and another reserved for special occasions. As part of a large family, she was allowed to only have two pairs of shoes at one time – and they had to last, as there was no money in the household to replace them frequently. So, protection and care were a very important part of her daily ritual of getting ready to go to school or to go to her work after school.
Two pairs of shoes. For at least a decade, two pairs of shoes were the foundation of her life – and it was with those two pair that Mrs. Deihl started her path to a new country, to a new life, to new beginning.
By working many jobs, educating herself, providing for her children, and moving forward day-to-day, she was able to jump start a new life – while never forgetting her roots. Not only has she been able to take care of herself and her immediate family, but she has always stayed connected with her many siblings and a large number of extended family members.
Twice a year, Mrs. Irma Deihl goes back to her little town (here is a video of her modest hometown) and it is not easy to reach. With some effort, driving through the Mexican territory with few paved areas, Irma travels with a large group of volunteers and she directs what she calls “give-back” to the community. It is a very large and yet humble effort.
Her ‘give-back’ effort takes place over two days as she and her crew go from door-to-door to visit those that need help the most. As I mentioned, the high sierras of her hometown has temperatures that drop below freezing and the little houses made of wood, cardboard and plastic cannot stand the strong cold winter, which often includes much snow.
Mrs. Deihl and her crew bring perishable food, as well as ready-to-eat warm food to provide to those that need some sense of warmth and home.
As heaters and other electrical fixtures are hard to bring through the border, the solution is to give warm clothing made out of wool and other warm materials – and of course, there are shoes provided!
Many people from her smalltown get lifetime benefits from her initiative. And while helping these people in need takes a handful of volunteers to prepare each trip, Irma always includes friends and often recruits popular personalities or celebrities who commit to help and they often volunteer to come along with her to help on the trip.
And according to Mrs. Deihl, that is all that she wants: “I have to give back, I have to. It is a responsibility of mine, because at some point in life, I was one of them, and help is always appreciated when you are in need”.
Her ability to create her own enterprises and coordinate efforts have allowed her to give back with many other causes. She has served as chair of events, hosted many events, and has been guest speaker and ally for many non-profits. Additionally, Irma spent several years in radio and television as show host, which has honed her ability as a public speaker and allowed her the use of her personal image for the purpose of raising funds for those in need or for those social enterprises in which she believes.
Some of the non-profit organizations she has been a part of over the past five years are:
– REYES FOUNDATION. A non-profit organization which aids burn victims internationally
– ST. JUDES HOSPITAL. A center that provides services to pediatric cancer patients
– BRAZOS ABIERTOS An agency which responds to AIDS epidemic and provides services to those battling HIV/AIDS
– MISSION OF MERCY A agency that provides free healthcare, dental and medication to those in need
– VIDA VIVE SIN DROGAS. An agency that promotes drug prevention and control for new generations
– NEW WAY ACADEMY A non-profit organization that specializes in helping children with learning differences
– AUTISM RESOURCE FOUNDATION An agency that helps children and families touched by autism
– PROJECT C.U.R.E. An international agency that delivers medical supplies and equipment to medical
– VIFAC (Vida y Familia). A Mexican-based foundation that helps mothers in need.
The picture below is Mrs. Irma Deihl and Mr. Murray Sullivan as hostess and host of the annual VIFAC fundraiser in Phoenix, Arizona.
Her many contributions cross many levels of the society and many different organizations. Due to her melodic voice and trained radio speaking talent, Mrs. Irma Deihl was part of an installation at the “Red Lounge” at SMoCA museum in downtown Scottsdale, where her voice was used to describe emotional levels of the color red in her native Spanish language. In fact, the red phone is still there and you can stop in to hear her voice among other local artists and personalities.
And so, with all these social gatherings and events to attend, her collection of fashionable garments must have a fashionable collection of shoes, and so began her SHOE FEVER. She tells me that has much to do with her limited shoes growing up, and now is a joy to be able to wear them and enjoy the style and variety. But in true Irma style, she also believes in passing them along, and some shoes get a new life with someone else after they have served their purpose and worked their way through her collection.
Some may criticize the cost of an inventory like this, but in reality, her shoe collection (which embodies her ability to find unique designers and designs) has caught the attention of many interested parties – and several times she has been asked to sell sections from her collection. And the proceeds from these occassional sales find their way back to support her humanitarian trips to her native town in Madera, Chihuahua, in Mexico.
To comment on Mrs. Deihl’s style, her style embodies every aspect of her life. And good example of her style is shows in her home and the objects that surround her have a very visceral affinity to glamor and elegance. This romanticism transfers into her garments and her collection of shoewear. To drop a few names, she collects from some of her favorite famous designers such as; Valentino, Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, Salvatore Ferragamo, Guisseppe Zanoti, Stuart Weitzman, Bruno Magli, John Fluevog, Liam Fahi, Manolo Blahnik, Cesare Paciotti, Patricia Rodales, Beatrix Ong, André Perugia, and Roger Vivier. (Most of these designers’ shoes are shown in the picture above) She also has an understanding of how to mix and match with simple vintage garments or simple off-the-rack clothing.
As she states: “It is all a matter of style”. (A statement that I could not with agree more as a mantra to any fashionable modern woman, no matter the taste level or the amount paid on a garment or on an ensemble.)
In the photos below, we chose several looks to showcase that affinity for mixing and matching styles for the perfect look.
For the second series of photos, we decided to dare a color block and color contrast, which is a very new trend that will stay with us all spring and summer 2013.
In this next series of shots, to contrast with the very bright tones of the last ensemble, the next look embodied a late afternoon toned down look. Still bright in tone, but more subdued to transition into evening.
To start the evening looks, the use is a simple VERSACE-designed leggings for H&M were the anchor for a more rocker/sophisticated ensemble that we rounded-up with Alexander McQueen pumps.
As we transition between looks and as we worked on several changes (this one reminds me of my mother) – the similarities are incredible!
As the afternoon looks went on this is one my favorite CHANEL garments she owned, directly from Paris runway show.
The garment was one she used on a recent outing to a Quinceañera tradeshow in downtown Phoenix – the sun hit all the sequins and the effect was magical – not even my professional camera was able to capture the complete effect of the garment.
Her favorite designer CHANEL is a constant in her closet – the skirt with sequins on this take is another one of those fabrics and details that I was simply not able to capture…
Out of her many public appearances, I suggested this very dynamic Oscar De la Renta one shoulder purple stain dress, where she appeared as Emcee for the launching of Argentinian actress and renowned radio personality Ms. Stella Paolini for her latest audiobook called “Tu Puedes- Tu Decides”.
As the shoot went on, I needed to have her wear one of her many, many, many couture evening gowns, and so I did.
And I to complete the whole look, and not even noticed the look, her own table runner worked as a veil – here comes the bride!
So, with all these looks and all this collection, If I were you, I would keep my closet organized!
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