For those who love shoes and Santana Row, luxury brand Donald J Pliner feels like it belongs to San Jose. For over a decade, it has held a prime location in Santana Row and locals affectionately call its beautiful, quirky storefront “the heart of Santana Row.”
The Donald J Pliner brand is headed by lead designer Cisco, a Spanish import with a unique combination of passion and modesty. He brings a fresh perspective that is influenced by his childhood on the sunny, holiday island of Majorca and his formative years spent absorbing style in London.
He has great respect for the Pliner customer, whom he describes as fashion-forward, creative, and sophisticated. As Pliner’s iconic shoe, the Dacio, turns 10 years old, Cisco and his team decided to come up with a very special way to thank their loyal customers. For a few limited weeks this September, customers can design their own version of the Pliner loafer, selecting the material, the stitching color, and the details on the sole.
On September 10, Donald J Pliner hosted an upscale fashion show and Dacio event benefitting Aryana Health Care Foundation. Each look that hit the runway had shoes hand-selected and styled by Cisco, who was enjoying his first visit to San Jose.
The city’s most stylish, including former 49ers players, filled the seats lining the red carpet on Hotel Valencia’s third floor courtyard. White umbrellas offered shade on the warm afternoon, and red rose petals filled the reflecting pool. Guests enjoyed mimosas while DJ Ka’nete layered beats with pop and soul.
The first models showed off the imaginative creations of JAKE, a fashion vision of Project Runway alumnus Jake Wall and partner Nathan Johnson. Unexpected camo patterns were paired with flowy, feminine suits. Men’s leather shorts and color block knits matched the ladies’ flirty hemlines and structured styles. Each ensemble was hemmed to highlight the show-stopping shoes supplied and styled by Donald J Pliner. A restrained navy suit was offset by iridescent purple python loafers. A formal look was complimented by scarlet calf leather sneakers.
Four beautiful women, modeling classic Chico fashions, represented cancer survivors and the Aryana Health Care Foundation. W by Worth, Franco Uomo, and Ana Cecilia Ortega each showed a series of elegant looks, ranging from tailored everyday wear to princess-inspired dream gowns, all adorned by Donald J Pliner’s luxury shoes. Again and again, the models and clothes showed the comfort and style of Donald J Pliner’s shoes, but also their versatility, demonstrating both edge and sophistication across generations and levels of formality.
After the fashion show, guests and customers were invited to design their Dacio shoes at the after party, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Aryana Health Care Foundation. It was just one more way that Donald J Pliner shows how it is truly the heart of Santana Row.
Written by Kate Evans
Photography by Daniel Garcia