By Alex Matthews
A self-confessed shoe addict has splashed out more than £28,000 amassing a huge collection of footwear.
Katie Porter, 49, has one of Britain’s largest collections with more than 400 pairs of heels and boots displayed ceiling to floor in a tiny bedroom in her London apartment.
Her collection spans everything from designers such as Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood heels to simple Topshop boots because she impulsively buys shoes within seconds of seeing them.
Katie’s earliest memories are of playing in heels as a toddler and after buying her first pair of heels aged just 12, she began avidly collecting them at 19 and has not stopped.
The freelance events manager admits her shoe shopping habit has cost her tens of thousands of pounds, but says it’s entirely worth it to have what she wants.
When she gets them home she displays the shoes on bookshelves in her bedroom like an art installation because she can’t bear to have them put away in boxes.
Katie, a mum of one from Hammersmith, said: “When I go to other people’s houses they have their books all on display on shelves.
“But I have my shoes because it says far more about my personality, I think they are fascinating.
“I absolutely love all the different shapes and colours they come in. That’s what makes them really attractive.
“I might have spent tens of thousands of pounds on shoes but it’s completely worth it to me.
“They bring me so much joy and they are things I can actually wear.
“My collection has everything from expensive designer heels to great little buys from charity shops.
“I’m sure I’ll keep going until I’m 100. You can never have too many shoes.”
Katie has been obsessed with shoes for as long as she can remember and was always drawn to the high heels in her primary school’s dressing up box.
As she grew older, she took fashion inspiration from glamorous movie star Diana Dors, who she would see dropping her son off at school.
She also felt drawn toward the bright colours and latest fashions she saw on regular trips with her family to France.
After saving up her birthday and Christmas money Katie splashed out on her first pair of Chelsea Boots from BOY on London’s King’s Road.
Katie said: “My interest in shoes goes back as far as I can remember.
“There were a pair of plastic heels in the dressing up box at play group and infant school and I would always pick those.
“I bought my first pair of shoes for myself when I was 12 or 13. They were leopard skin Chelsea Boots from BOY on King’s Road in London and they were marvellous.
“I paid for them using birthday and Christmas money. I can’t remember the price anymore but I know they wouldn’t have been cheap.
“When I went to Charters School in Sunningdale and the actress Diana Dors would drop her son off in an open-top Rolls Royce and matching coat and heels. She was just amazing and was something of an icon for me.
“Then my father got lots of work in France and the women were so chic. They would colour match and were always in heels and they wouldn’t think twice about making themselves look glamorous. I liked that.”
Despite the impressive size of her collection, Katie says it could have been even larger had she not thrown dozens of pairs away over the years.
She tries to have her favourite shoes repaired repeatedly, but admits to regretting letting go of some pairs too soon.
According to Katie, the joy of her collection is that shoes are something everyone buys and enjoys.
She confesses to being obsessed with checking out other people’s footwear while walking the streets or on the Tube.
Katie said: “I’ve bought my shoes from everywhere I have seen them over the years.
“This winter my favourite pair of shoes have been a pair of yellow boots from Topshop I picked up for less than £50. They’re wonderful.
“That’s what great about my collection. It’s not that niche and so many people enjoy shoes, so it’s accessible to people.
“I love watching other people to see what they are wearing. I’m forever paying attention to people’s feet to see what they have on.”
Katie keeps her shoes on display in bookshelves, where they dominate her 14ft by 16ft bedroom.
She believes they reflect her personality better than books or paintings and transform her room into a gallery.
Katie also picked up her perfect mirror for admiring her footwear from a skip she walked past one day.
Katie said: “I spend hours looking at my shoes, sometimes just lying back on my bed and admiring my ankle while I try them on.
“It’s good to have something that keeps you happy, and for me it’s definitely enjoying my collection.
“I also have a fantastic mirror I use to check out my entire outfits.
“It was like shoe shopping when I saw it. The mirror was lying in a skip and I knew I had to have it, so I grabbed it and dragged it up four flights of stairs to my apartment.
“It’s important for me to make sure my outfits match. The shoes have to be the same colour as my belt or cigarette lighter and case.
“Sometimes simple outfits that match colours well are the most striking.”