FAIRHAVEN, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — You could call him the Jimmy Choo of the South Coast.
At 55, Fairhaven's Christopher Donovan gave up his job to pursue his dream of starting his own women's shoe line. Now 61, he's living that dream, with a line of highly-sculptured shoes that have gained international acclaim.
"I'm obsessed with shoes," he told WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe. "I will wake up in the middle of the night dreaming of new ideas. First thing in the morning, I'll get up and I'll sketch them down, just so I don't forget them."
Donovan said it all began when he was 16 in parochial school, when he noticed a girl wearing sky-high platform shoes.
"It changed the way she walked, it changed her demeanor," he said. "They were like a piece of art that she was walking on. I immediately started drawing it in my notebook."
For thirty years, Donovan sketched shoes while working as a phone repairman. But after a bout with prostate cancer, he decided it was time to pursue his dream.
"It made me realize, oh, I could drop dead, and I wouldn't get a chance to actually do this," he said. "It set a fire underneath me."
He retired early, and attended some classes at Rhode Island School of Design and in New York, where he got very positive feedback.
"At the end of the class, the teacher goes, 'You were born to do this, you have to do this'," he said.
He got into Polimoda Fashion Institute in Florence, Italy, where he earned his masters degree in footwear design.
Donovan's designs are inspired by shapes, the architecture of buildings, and even ships in New Bedford Harbor.
He said he wants women to feel strong when they put on his shoes—"like you can do anything."
"I'm going for strength, and I'm going for power, and I want you to walk tall in these things," he said. "Whether they're flats or heels, I want you to walk tall and be proud of who you are!"
You can see more of Donovan's creations at chrisdonovanfootwear.com.
WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports