"A more closed-off look on the shoe is becoming more trendy, and the smoking slipper still continues to be quite popular as a ballerina alternative, for sure," Richards said.
Her innate sense of design was something that was apparent at a very young age, as Richards recalled looking through photographs of a two-year-old Rachel walking down the stairs in her mother's high heels - or as a four-year-old wearing her mother's boots that came all the way up to her bottom.
Her interest took her to Miami University, where she cultivated her liberal arts education into interior design and industrial design.
"Industrial deign really gave me the opportunity to learn how to think about design and solve problems, and that part of it I really liked," she said. "I don't really solve many problems with shoes these days, but it's the perfect blend of fashion and product design from my perspective."
A few internships and entry-level jobs later (and the current owner of more than 200 pairs of shoes), Richards found herself heading up design teams for some of the most influential fashion companies in the country. Her expertise in the fashion industry is a complement to the upcoming West Virginia Symphony League fashion show, a fundraiser for the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
"This is the first time Elevations has done something focusing on fashion and its economic impact. We're typing that into the Symphony fashion show," said JoEllen Zacks, senior vice president of the Charleston Area Alliance. "Putting that show together, you realize what a huge economic engine it is for the region. We thought we'd bring in an expert for that, and ... we like to showcase West Virginia women who have become very successful in particular fields. Rachel Richards is a rising star in New York."
Elevations, the Charleston Area Alliance's professional women's network, was launched about five years ago to connect women with resources, mentors and expertise so they can help their businesses prosper and help themselves advance their careers, according to Zacks.
The West Virginia Symphony League fashion show, "Girl on Fire," is today at Smith Company Motor Cars near Southridge Centre. The event begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are sold out for the event, but a waiting list is available. For more information, visit www.wvfashionshow.com. ;
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