N aida Rutherford has a distinctive style. A wound and ostomy nurse by day, she trades her scrubs for statement-making ensembles after work.
“I’m not interested in looking like the girl in the magazine,” Rutherford, 33, said. “I have a very unique look. Sometimes, I’m accused of wearing costumes ... My closet is full of everything you can imagine, from costumes to 1920s lingerie.”
Rutherford often finds rare and one-of-a-kind pieces to add to her closet at high-end Columbia boutique Coplon’s and Gwen Rawls’ eponymous Italian shoe shop. Rutherford particularly likes Rawls’ store because of its selection of Italian shoes which may be difficult – if not impossible – to find anywhere else in Columbia.
“My main focus is having access to designers who aren’t carried in many other places,” Rutherford said. Luis Onofre is one of the designers Rawls carries that Rutherford particularly likes. Onofre’s current collection uses traditional riding boot silhouettes with interesting metallic features and crocodile- and lizard-embossed leather.
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Rutherford seeks out the unique and different; she has a pair of heels by Onofre that feature mink and Swarovski crystals. She also loves finding one-of-a-kind items that may be the only item like it in the U.S. or the world. The day Gwen Rawls opened her boutique, Rutherford went home with a purple handbag made of ostrich and crocodile skin. It’s the only purple one of its kind ever made, and has only one black counterpart.
“If there’s a piece that I know there’s only one or two of, I’ll buy it,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford sees the high-end and unique items she gets as investments in her closet.
“You can get a pair of $200 booties and they’re not going to be Steve Madden (shoes) that have been mass produced and the seams will come undone,” she said. “They’re quality Italian leather that will last you forever.”