Jennifer Aniston among celebs donating shoes to Philly Hero in Heels auction

Liz Johnson of Mays Landing checks out Stephanie LaGrossa's size 7's at last week's auction, which raised money for women battling cancer. (Bob Williams / For the Inquirer)
Liz Johnson of Mays Landing checks out Stephanie LaGrossa's size 7's at last week's auction, which raised money for women battling cancer. (Bob Williams / For the Inquirer)
Posted: June 15, 2010

Snakeskin espadrilles with a fierce wedge. By Jimmy Choo. From the closet of Jennifer Aniston.

Could it get any better for a fashionista?

Apparently not.

The shoes were one of 20 pairs sold last week during the Hero in Heels charity auction that raised more than $9,600 for women battling cancer. The fashion show, held at the Trust building on Arch Street, was put together by Dave Girgenti's Wish Upon a Hero Foundation, an online nonprofit that grants requests to people in need.

"I wanted to put together a fund-raiser for women using something they were very passionate about," said Girgenti, a graphic designer, who now grants wishes full time. "And we know that women are passionate about shoes."

Most shoes went for $200, but Jennifer's Jimmys went for $800. Three hundred people attended. Not bad for a local fund-raiser with fashion as the focus.

Other celebrity shoes auctioned included a pair of silver Cole Haan peep-toe stilettos courtesy of actress Samantha Harris, and Tod's sandals that once belonged to Scarlett Johansson.

Taylor Swift donated her gently used studded Betsey Johnsons. And British songstress Estelle gave a pair of to-die-for olive-green Halston pumps. Some buyers said they'd be wearing their purchases; others wanted to display them as art, Girgenti said.

The night featured runway presentations by Gregory Taylor, creative director for women's wear line Walish Gooshe; Sarah Van Aken, with her popular Center City-based line SAVA; and Carmelita Greco, who showed pieces from her artsy Carmelita Couture collection.

Girgenti started Wish Upon a Hero in September 2007 as a way to grant wishes to people dealing with unexpected tragedies. Many of his requests, he said, were from women with cancer. Some of them were simple: silk scarves to cover heads bald from chemotherapy. Others were more difficult to fulfill - breast prosthesis.

Girgenti thought up the celebrity shoe auction idea a year ago when watching E! Entertainment. He was flabbergasted to learn the prices of designer shoes - although any shoe maven can tell you without missing a beat: Jimmy Choos can run you more than $500.

Girgenti also accurately surmised that celebrities don't get much mileage from their shoes, probably wearing them once or twice. So he got his interns together and they started Facebooking, twittering, and e-mailing celebrity publicists on a quest for pumps and peep-toes.

"I thought it was going to be hard, but it wasn't," said Girgenti, who is now filming a reality show about granting wishes for the online Eclipse channel. "After all, we weren't asking them to donate money or time. We just wanted their shoes. It turned out to be a lot easier than we expected."

In April, Girgenti held an online auction and sold about 20 pairs of shoes, raising about $2,000. He decided to create Thursday night's live auction because he predicted women would be more likely to fall in love if they could see shoes in person.

"We hope this becomes an annual event," Girgenti said. "Maybe next year we'll see Kelly Ripa here."


For information on Girgenti's nonprofit, go to www.heroinheels.org.

Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com.

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