Cigar Aficionado

Rocky Carroll Boots

Footwear is that style item that makes a statement without your saying a word. If Italian loafers are a polite announcement, cowboy boots are a spirited oration. But boots that bespeak your personality don't come off the shelf. That's why Rocky Carroll's RJ's Boot Co., in Houston, hand-stitches and customizes every pair for each customer.

Carroll can speak for the feet of seven U.S. presidents, as well as other heads of state and celebrities. Former President George H. Bush has 25 pairs and President George W. Bush has a collection of his own. Former President Bill Clinton has 13 pairs. Other clients include Boris Yeltsin, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Tony Blair, Oprah Winfrey and Elizabeth Taylor. The actor Russell Crowe recently traded in his gladiator sandals for cowboy boots, and Gen. Tommy Franks put in an order as well.

In addition to measuring your calf, instep, height, heel, waist and ball of your foot, Carroll sizes up your personality. The pair he made for George W. is stitched in eel skin and has the presidential seal tailored to the "shaft," or top portion, which hugs the calf. Liz Taylor's $40,000 boots came complete with nine carats of diamonds. (Less resplendent boots start at $600.) Toe, heel, leather, top, foot, stitching and scallop (top rim shape of the boot) are customized to your specifications and sent in three to four weeks.

Using a plastic or wood form, or last, of each customer's foot, Carroll cuts the soft skins to hug every bunion, bone and arch. Almost any skin or design is available, including water buffalo, ostrich, kangaroo, caribou, shark, anteater, lizard tail, elephant and, of course, red alligator, which the Queen Mum fancied. The boots slide on like socks and form to your foot like a glove.

Call RJ's Boot Co. at (713) 682-1650.