Flor de Maria and shoes
Flor de Maria Rivera (right) recently returned to Los Gatos; a pair of her shoes helped Janelle James make a splash at the Golden Globes. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

It had been a year since Janelle James got in hot water for interrupting a co-star during last year’s Golden Globes, and she wanted to make sure her look was on-point for this year’s edition.

And thanks to the insights of one of her stylists, she ended up selecting footwear from Los Gatos designer Flor de Maria to set the foundation for a look that would go on to generate gushing headlines in publications like Women’s Wear Daily, BET.com and Essence.com.

Janelle James as Ava Coleman in Abbott Elementary. (YouTube)

“I’m living my dream!” Flor de Maria Rivera told the Los Gatan in an email interview when asked about her contribution to this year’s Jan. 7 spectacle at the Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, California. “I always envisioned this—even before I launched my eponymous shoe line, but to actually see it happen is something I can’t exactly put into words.”

Flor de Maria Rivera
Flor de Maria Rivera along University Avenue. (Contributed)

According to the WWD piece, the “Abbott Elementary” star took on two different stylists—KJ Moody and Samantha McMillen—in order to prepare for awards shows that were bunched-together thanks to the recent labor actions in the film and TV sector.

Because Rivera has kept busy over the past year—doing a cross-country media tour to promote the coffee table book she’s featured in, Cult Heels: Exceptional Talent in Shoe Design, and opening a series of pop-up shops in various cities—it created just the buzz she needed to land one of her creations on the red carpet.

“Janelle stylist, KJ Moody, saw the shoes in our showroom in LA and loved them,” she said. “The rest is history.”

So, when the 81st Golden Globe Awards rolled around, James, who portrays principal Ava Coleman in the ABC series, was ready.

BET proclaimed James “looks absolutely regal;” ESSENCE wrote, “The gown was able to speak for itself rather than relying on any other beauty cues to speak on its behalf. A lack of extravagant jewels also was a smart choice;” E News called her look “effortlessly elegant;” and justjared.com mentioned the Flor de Maria shoes and that James coordinated outfits with Sheryl Lee Ralph, better known to some as Abbot teacher Barbara Howard.

It was Ralph who James famously interrupted last year with the classic line, “I love you, Mom!”

In an interview on The Jennifer Hudson Show, James blamed her outburst on the free drinks.

Rivera says the key to effective shoe selection for an awards show is to find something that complements the overall style.

The black BERTA platform has already sold out. (Courtesy of Flor de Maria)

“Shoes can either make or break the look, and I think in this case KJ Moody nailed it,” she said. “It’s the icing on the cake.”

The particular footwear in question are BERTA platforms from the Flor de Maria Season 9 (fall/winter 2023) collection.

“I feel so much gratitude, happiness, joy, excitement and love,” she said, when asked about what it’s like to see influencers like James fall for her creations. “It’s the fuel I need to keep on designing beautiful shoes and to turn Flor de Maria into what I have always envisioned it to be.” 

The BERTA platforms are designed to be worn multiple ways—as they come with two different strap options.

“Our black platforms sold out,” Rivera said. “But the great news is that we just dropped them in pink, in time for Valentine’s Day.”

Giving an explanation on the The Jennifer Hudson Show. (YouTube)

After gallivanting around America, she says she’s glad to have returned.

“I travel quite often, but Los Gatos is home,” she said. “If you’ve seen my Instagram, you can tell I’ve been spending a lot of time here. There are a lot of great restaurants, there’s the farmers market, and St. Mary of the Immaculate Catholic Church, where my family and I go.”

And 2024 is shaping up to be quite exciting for her brand.

“I can’t share much yet,” she said. “What I will tell you is that we are hoping to launch our handbag collection before the end of the year, host more pop-ups and continue to see Hollywood A-list celebrities wear our shoes!”

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected].


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