A! Magazine for the Arts

Mary Jane Miller

Mary Jane Miller

Going Head Over Heels with Mary Jane Miller

October 27, 2020

Mary Jane Miller is a native of Jamestown, New York, and has lived in Bristol since 1979. She has degrees in merchandising, retailing and interior design and owns Along Came Mary, her interior design company. She has lectured to many groups, been interviewed by newspapers and magazines and selected for television broadcasts. Her designs have been featured in Country Victorian, Window Fashions, Wall Fashions, Voice Magazine and Home Décor Buyer. Part of her shoe collection is featured in the “Head Over Heels” exhibit at William King Museum of Art, Abingdon, Virginia.

A! Magazine: What got you interested in collecting shoes?

Mary Jane Miller: Never did I set out to ‘collect’ footwear or handbags or accessories. My parents were married quite some time before I was born and during the 1930s and 1940s they were a glamorous couple, with my mother being an enviable fashion plate. So, in the 1950s and 1960’s when I was growing up, I had a role model for fashion. Before studying to be an interior designer, I worked in the fashion industry too. When I bought an item, I made sure I really appreciated its design, so it was difficult not to keep it. With that said, accumulation was evident over the decades. Not until a few years ago did I even consider what was stashed in my closets a collection. At that time, I was preparing to ship a crate of items to a consignment shop in Manhattan. There were about a dozen pairs of shoes that I no longer could wear so I included them in the consignment. Now I realize that was a big mistake for they were fabulous examples and today would have been great additions to the collection. Have you ever heard of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto? A few years ago, they accepted four pairs of my shoes for their permanent collection...that was thrilling.

A! Magazine: Where do you find the items in the collection?

Miller: Anywhere and everywhere. Since I travel as often as possible, I find examples all over the world. I prefer obscure designers as opposed to known brands although I do not exclude any designer who designs a particularly unique example. I steer away from fads and trendy designs as well as supposed ‘status’ items. (Most status items are mass produced, and there are usually more fakes than authentic pieces on the market.) Over the years I have purchased from vintage shops, department stores, end-of-season discount stores, websites and boutiques. A sale item is always good news.

A! Magazine: How many pairs of footwear do you own?

Miller: By now one would think I knew the exact quantity...it changes monthly. Ha. So, my educated guess is close to 300. The same goes for handbags, but the accessory category goes way beyond both.

A! Magazine: Do you have any favorites?

Miller: Being quite fickle with fashion, I would say my favorites change from season to season. Currently I am obsessed with a new design firm from Copenhagen called “Wandler” which combines colors and materials in a beautiful artistic manner. There will be two pairs of their boots in the exhibit. A perennial favorite is “Antonia Sauter” from Venice, Italy, whose specialty is making and embellishing footwear with printed Venetian Fortuny velvets and silks plus other rare materials such as Straus crystals. The exhibit will feature a capsule collection of her items.

For more information about Miller, visit www.alongcamemary.net.