In this week's Dallas Observer we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Mark Graham. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.
Jane Aldridge reaches for a life-sized white ceramic cat perched on one of her coffee tables and picks it up. "Her name is Gish," Aldridge says. She sets Gish, named after silent film star Lillian Gish, down on her dining-room table a few feet away and disappears into her bedroom. Seconds later she re-emerges with an armful of colorful shoes, which she clunks down on the table where the cat sat.
She's wearing a pair of strappy metallic silver Prada "smoking" heels, ornamented with hot pink patent leather lips that are smoking a cigarette. "We need more colors," the photographer insists, examining the shoes on the table. Aldridge disappears again, her heels clicking against the hardwood floors in the 20-year-old's 1960s Turtle Creek apartment.
She returns with both hands full of shoes and adds the lot to the already impressive pile. Miu Miu, Prada and Maison Martin Margiela all compete for space on the table, the same names that launched Aldridge from an average schoolgirl into a style blogger and sometimes-controversial Internet celebrity. (Is there any other kind, really?).
Aldridge was just 15 , living with her mom and fellow style blogger, Judy, in Trophy Club when she started her blog. With a reported six-figure investment from her father, the site, Sea of Shoes, quickly built a following among fashionistas and shopoholics. It features bright, sleek -- glossy, if a blog can be glossy -- spreads of Aldridge posing in the latest fashion trends, with emphasis, of course, on her footwear.
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Since uploading her first post in 2007, Aldridge has received press from Teen Vogue, Vanity Fair and Jezebel, among others -- but not all of it has sparkled like her heel collection. Shortly after being featured in this April's Texas Monthly, Aldridge disputed a quote she gave about not needing to go to college. The magazine stood behind the quote, but the beef landed her on New York Magazine's fashion blog. We doubt she minded. See clarification below.
It's unclear where this is all headed. Aldridge finally moved into her own place this year, but she and Mom are still committed to making the blog go together. (Judy Aldridge now has a place up the street.) The site reportedly receives 400,000 page views each month, a sum that's helped take her from fashion outsider to insider, designing a line of shoes for Urban Outfitters in 2009. She's not sure that's a road she wants to click-clack down again -- "I'm a shoe appreciator, not a technician" -- but it's an indication of the possibilities, of the places those smoking heels might take her next.
An earlier version of this item, as well as the one that appeared in print, implied that there was a genuine dispute over the quote Aldridge gave to Texas Monthly. There wasn't. The magazine has stood behind the quote.
See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here.