After several attempts at trying to have a phone interview with Donald J Pliner, the nationally acclaimed shoe designer, the day is finally here. I know I must be punctual with the phone call. I know him well enough to know what level of professionalism he expects. He is punctual and a perfectionist and expects the same from others.
I look for a comfortable place to sit, latte in hand, Donald J Pliner shoes kicked off my feet, and I make the call. Being the visual person that I am, I try to envision what he is doing on the other side of the phone line . . . Is he relaxing in his luxury home in California? Is Lisa, his companion and loyal wife, sitting next to him? She is his anchor. I do know for sure that they are both wearing the shoes he designed! I visualize them dressed in elegant and chic outfits, surrounded by beautiful furniture and art. As a matter of fact, much of his art comes from Santa Fe.
The question in my mind is, can I separate the designer from the man . . . the man from the designer? Can he make the distinction himself?
A couple of rings and Donald answers the phone right away greeting me with that particular tone of voice and that signature giggle of his. After our hellos, I go directly to the list of questions I have in mind for this “conversation”.
I ask him, “What drives you when you are designing?” He giggles and says to me, “MY PASSION”. I know what he means by that. I have been around him long enough to know this. This passion of his has been a blessing and a curse. This is the energy behind his designer mind. Only somebody with a passion and love for what they do can stay up all night designing into the wee hours of the morning. Time means nothing to him. He can work straight for 24 hours without taking a rest. He can travel from continent to continent to be on time for trade shows or to attend Personal Appearances! Only somebody with a lot of PASSION is physically tireless. Anything and everything that is aesthetically beautiful stimulates his mind. It could be something in nature or architecture, furniture or art.
But at the same time… this PASSION of his has been a challenge in his life. He has left behind important family moments to focus on his line of shoes. This is irreversible time that can never be made up again. He has lacked the time or not given importance to slowing down and smelling the roses. He has physically and emotionally driven himself to dangerous limits in order for the passion for his business to thrive. Oh, yes . . . I understand him.
We at GOLER, have a deep appreciation of Donald. We grew with him during the heyday of the shoe business. It was so much fun and a true creative experience to buy his collection. One could choose from so many color and leather combinations. Donald was number one in presenting his artistry in first class fashion shows where he would describe each style and what inspired him to design it. This was a true treat.
I timidly, was going to ask him, “What is in the future for you?” But I stopped myself. Are you crazy asking that question??!! Since deep down in my heart I know this answer. I
know him. I know his answer. For him designing is A CONTINUOUS LIFE OF DESIGNING!!
The thing that most people don’t know about Pliner is:
#1 The BIG loves of his life are his dogs!
#2 He is originally from Chicago.
#3 He has a twin sister.
#4 He is an architect.
#5 He loves Santa Fe.
#6 He loves GOLER …. Hellooooooo!
#7 He hates people chewing gum!
#8 He only needs 4 hours of sleep.
#9 He has a brother who is also in the shoe business.
#10 Lisa, his wife, is his muse and his biggest fan and often designs with him.
# 11 He is a gentleman.
#12 He has daughter with a beautiful name, STARR.
#13 She was adopted from Russia.
# 14 Many of his designs were inspired by our Santa Fe aesthetics.
# 15 It takes 3 months to design a shoe collection.
# 16 He loves interacting with the men and women that wear his shoes.
# 17 He can have a very, very, very strong personality ( WOW! )
#18 He speaks some Spanish!
# 19 He is the hardest working man in the shoe industry.
#20 AND he knows we love him to death……………………………………………………..
Please write me your comments. I love hearing your point of view.