Wine, Women and Shoes

If you want to have a great turnout for a party, you need a few important ingredients. Great food, stylish women, music, a good cause and, here’s the kicker, shoes!

Yes, most women love shoes and while many other stores have already gained a foothold in this town, Diani Shoes is the latest to put its best foot forward in Santa Barbara’s shoe biz.

On May 17, the store hosted more than 100 people for a private opening gala. The ambience that surrounded the guests congregating inside and outside the store was palpable. The warm, balmy night perfectly set off the romantic Moroccan-inspired tent and brightly colored cushions and brass urns and palm trees. Background music was provided by a classical guitar and the air was filled with fragrant roses donated by Dani Hahn, of Rose Story Farm. Sangria and savory hors d’oeuvres were donated by Diani neighbor Carlitos.

Young entrepreneur Caroline Diani has owned Diani in the Arlington Plaza since 2002 and Diani Essentials opened two years thereafter. In her latest venture, Caroline has teamed up with Santa Barbara Magazine, Kyle Brace, Kendall Conrad, Jelinda DeVorzon, Patsy Hirsch, Arlene Montesano, Daryl Stegall and Mary Ellen Trainor Zemeckis for a by-invitation-only opening night gala.

In the midst of all the mingling and socializing, guests checked out each other’s shoes while trying on new shoes by designers such as Pedro Garcia, Chloe, French Sole, Bernardo and Tracy Reese. As part of the event, Caroline donated 20% of proceeds to Soles4Souls, Inc., an international charity dedicated to providing free footwear to needy people around the world. All invited guests were asked to bring a pair or two of gently worn flat-soled shoes that the hostesses plan on shipping to refugee camps in southern Sudan. Montecito techno wizard Michael Hurley projected visual images of the Sudanese refugees on the store wall.

During the opening weekend of May 18, 19 and 20, the public also received 20% off any purchase of new shoes in exchange for a donation of a pair of gently used ones.

Diani Shoes (966-7175) is located at 1324 State Street. It is open seven days a week, Monday 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 7 pm, and Sunday noon to 7 pm. For more info visit www.dianiboutique.com.