Stuart Weitzman counts Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, and Gigi Hadid among his celebrity clientele. But we, the shoe-loving public, appreciate Weitzman for his brand of footwear, like the classic Stari kitten heel and his sexy Highland boot.

That is why Weitzman will receive Thomas Jefferson University's Spirit of Design Award Thursday night at the college's annual student fashion show.

Jefferson's faculty bestows this award on fashion industry legends it deems inspirational to young designers. Nicole Miller, Tommy Hilfiger, Francisco Costa, and John Varvatos are past recipients. This week, I had a quick chat with Weitzman, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, about the importance of emerging designers and the must-have shoe for this spring.

How important are emerging designers to today’s fashion scene?

Today's fashion is dictated by the young. I remember how my mother took my sisters shopping, and today, women won't buy anything without their daughters' approval. Young people's ideas are fresh. They push the envelope and create wonderful things.

How did  your business training prepare you for a career in fashion design?

I wasn't just interested in what was beautiful, I cared about what worked. I didn't put anything in the marketplace that women didn't wear well, that women didn't feel good about. If you spend a $1,000 on my shoe and get a blister, then I'll never see you again. That wouldn't work. We are in another stretch when the business side is taking over the fashion side.

How do you see the future of shoe retail?

Shoe retail, just like every other facet of retail, is under tremendous pressure right now. In a few years, malls will be entertainment centers. We will all be on the internet. Look at my business: 10 years ago, my sales on the internet were almost zero. Today, it's more than half of my business. More so than ever, I'm not here to make what I want. I'm here to make what she wants. And she's telling me.

Now for the fun stuff: What’s the must-have shoe this spring?

A bikini for the shoe. In my line that's called the "Nudist." It's perfectly elegant, sexy and simple. And it's engineered so the strap doesn't pinch your foot, at the same time holding the foot in place.

Flats or heels?

Between 70 to 80 percent of the shoes I sell are flats. Sneakers have really changed business. Women want to be comfortable. This spring, there are a variety of flats out there: ballerinas, lace-ups, moccasins, and espadrilles.

Will my floral pumps hold up to fashion scrutiny for yet another season?

[Laughs] Well, in fashion, nothing is forever. But this season it's a wonderful way to wear one shoe with a lot of different looks. The difference is that this year, florals are on a pastel background, as opposed to saturated, citrus colors.

Don’t be afraid to wear a bootie in a summer color like white or beige. This is the Stuart Weitzman Clinger
Stuart Weitzman
Don’t be afraid to wear a bootie in a summer color like white or beige. This is the Stuart Weitzman Clinger
Any last tips to help me up my shoe game this spring?

Don't be afraid to continue to wear your ankle boots. This is an attitude you can take with you year-round, but instead of black, think beige, or camel. Tight with leggings works, and loose and a little sloppy is kind of cool. They aren't going away.

Thomas Jefferson Univeristy's student fashion show is  Thursday at the Moulin at Sherman Mills, 3502 Scotts Lane. For more information, log on to: End Google Tag Manager