Sunday, 31 July 2011

Shoe Pains Semi-Explained

Remember these shoes?

They're back! As part of a fundraiser for the English National Ballet, who had their budget cut by $3.2 million, Christian Louboutin designed a new pair of his extreme ballerina heels. A size 37, one-of-a-kind, covered in Swarovski crystals, and unwearable...

But really, really pretty.

It brings to mind a larger question however: why am I, along with thousands of other women, willing to distort my feet, my body and my posture for the sake of wearing pretty shoes?  I do it on a regular basis.  At 5"9, I don't need the extra height.  I don't need the obvious foot, knee, hip and back pains the regular wearing of high heels can cause.  Is it just because they're pretty? I don't think so. There are more than enough stylish flat shoes out there.  I believe that the answer does lie in the heel height, in being higher up.  I admit, it's a confidence boost to walk with authoritative "click" of a heel and to be taller than usual.  I think of shoes as the integral finishing touch to any outfit and a heel gives both a literal and figurative boost to what you're wearing.  Heels add another dimension to your look.  They command attention and they remind me that I am worth paying attention to.  This strikes me as slightly sad, only because I don't know any guy that has to pull on platforms to gain authority.  I suppose women are the flashier gender of the human species, and heels are part of that uniform.  
To close, I'm going to get a little Oprah-ish here.  Don't dress for anyone else.  Dress for yourself, and put those heels on because they make you feel good emotionally, if not physically.

- Shannon

Friday, 29 July 2011

When Shannon Met... The Jeffrey Campbell 99

Jeffrey Campbell recently celebrated an important birthday.  The Lita Boot (seen here) turned one year-old.  The Lita has a huge following and it's impossible to scroll through without seeing it, but my true JC love is the 99 wedge (seen below), which I own in black.

This shoe is the fucking best. It combines comfort, style and an enormous platform, which is all I ever want.  Especially the comfort! I can sit/stand/walk/shop/dance in these shoes for hours. The tall hidden wedge and platform, which look intimidating, are so wearable it's ridiculous.  
I think one of the most important things about Jeffrey Campbell is how affordable the shoes are.  While I've been known to drop a lot of money on a pair of shoes, I don't feel like you should always have to pay $350+ for a quality shoe.  Jeffrey Campbell is one of the only brands that offers a shoe that doesn't damage your feet, with materials that don't fall apart and don't cost as much as my rent. And they look awesome.  So, thank you Jeffrey Campbell.  You give me (and my bank account) hope that high fashion isn't reserved for the rich.  You rock.

- Shannon

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Debunking A Bizzare Shoe Myth

Last night, this happened:

Lady Gaga threw her shoe at the dancers on So You Think You Can Dance, which she claimed is some crazy tradition when you really enjoy a dance performance. Okay, what? I have performed in many dance shows, seen many dance shows, but never have I ever seen anyone throw their shoes at a performer! Especially heel-less, 12-inch platforms that probably weigh a ton.  Luckily, no one was hurt.
What I'm saying is, when you really enjoy a dance performance, applaud. Don't throw your shoes! Safety of self and sanctity of shoe above all!


Monday, 25 July 2011

A Tribute to YSL's Tribute

I have long been obsessed with French fashion house, Yves Saint Laurent, now a brand as part of the Gucci conglomerate.  From the divine tailoring of the classic Le Smoking tuxedo suits, to the fabulous Mondrian dress, and the legacy continued by current head designer Stefano Pilati, I consider YSL to be nothing short of legendary.  Perhaps the most iconic shoe by YSL is the Tribute.  Produced in multiple seasons and available as a t-strap sandal, pump, boot, and Mary Jane, it's signature is a 1.5-inch platform with a towering 5.5-inch heel.  Candy for your eyeballs below:

Probably the classiest platform ever, right?
The t-strap in red.
Blue-soled black boot and pump with extra-skinny heel.

Vintage Tribute, so lust-worthy.

Ohmygod, this colour makes me so happy inside.

The Tribute has most recently been known for it's regular appearances on celebrity feet, which makes a lot of sense.  True to YSL, no matter what colour or style the Tribute is produced in, it represents the understated glamour and season-less style that the fashion house was known for.  They are the only skinny stiletto heels that I truly love, as I prefer stacked or wedge heels.  While I generally find that stilettos make the wearer look vulnerable, these shoes convey nothing but a feline sense of power, and I'm cool with that.

- Shannon

Monday, 18 July 2011

Looking Forward to Fall 2011

I am a dreamer.  If I could spend all my tuition money on shoes instead, this would be my dream shoe wardrobe from the FW 11/12 collections:

Boots from Aperlai.
Classic boots from Frye.
Flats from Jenni Kayne.
Boots from Chanel.
Studded pumps from Christian Louboutin.
Boots from Dax Gabler.
Lace-up flats from Pollini.
Booties from Miu Miu.
Heels from Pierre Hardy.
Heels from Dries Van Noten.

Unfortunately, many of these lovely shoes have no place on campus, and cost as much as a lot of my course supplies.  Why aren't beautiful shoes part of course packs? However, I will be looking out for those Dax Gabler boots and another pair of Frye boots. Maybe dreams will come true?
If you have any fall favourites, let me know!

- Shannon

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Vintage Shoes and How to Help Them Survive

I have a turbulent relationship with vintage shoes.  I love them, but 9 times out of 10, they let me down.  Any vintage style of shoe is hard enough for me to find in the first place because I have a big feet for a lady (size 10) but a pair that doesn't fall apart within 5-10 wears? Nearly impossible.  It breaks my heart because new shoes don't always have the same style/history/"je ne sais quoi" that vintage ones do, particularly when it comes to cowboy, riding or ankle boots. Examples of lust-worthy vintage boots below:
Vintage Maxwell Marshall riding boots.
Blue/tan suede ankle boots.
Snakeskin cowboy boots (available at LA Vintage!)

I can't imagine any modern interpretation having the same effect, particularly when it comes to brown leathers, which often age in unexpected and beautiful ways.  The best way to stay with your vintage footwear for as long as possible means investing in some maintenance.  There are a few things you can do yourself to extend the life of your shoes.
  1. Invest in waterproofing spray.  It generally strengthens shoes against environmental damage.
  2. Use saddle soap.  It's like a deep massage for leathers.  It cleans and moisturizes the material to prevent from staining and cracking.  Buy from Roots here.
  3. Find a cobbler close by.  People seem so keen to give up on their shoes when the sole is falling off, or a heel is worn down, or a buckle is wonky, but you don't have to! Take them to a cobbler, who can easily fix any of these problems and will give your shoes the best polishing ever.  
  4. This only applies for those who live in a cold climate like me, whose neighbours spread piles of salt on icy sidewalks all winter long that seep into your boots and leave that crusty white line.  A mixture of 3/4 water and 1/4 vinegar will remove it, but don't let salt sit for too long or it will permanently damage your shoe.  And don't use salt on sidewalks! Sand also provides grip on icy sidewalks in winter without damaging shoes or animals paws for that matter.  Love thy neighbours shoes!
These tips go for any footwear, vintage or otherwise. Be wary when buying any shoe of the quality of material but when you find that pair you love, treat them well!

- Shannon

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Rainbows by Salvatore Ferragamo & Jeffrey Campbell

After previously writing a bit about Salvatore Ferragamo (see two posts ago!), I began looking up his old designs.  While admiring his beautiful creations, I noticed something weird.  A pair of famous platform shoes that he designed for Judy Garland in 1938 resembled a pair I had seen recently.
By Salvatore Ferragamo, c. 1938 

By Jeffrey Campbell, c. 2011

Hm.  I'm not sure how I feel about this. Is it a fashion moment of "What goes around comes around"? Is it a blatant ripoff? Is it a homage to the late shoe genius?  Either way, it makes me uncomfortable, although I love both designers.  If you've got an opinion, let me know in the comments section. I'd love to hear someone else's take on this.

- Shannon

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

When Shannon Met... Nomadic State of Mind Sandals

About one month ago, I was in Manchester, TN for Bonnaroo, an absolutely amazing music and arts festival. It was hot, dusty, and awesome. It was also not ideal conditions for most footwear.  The sandals I had brought were rubber-soled, ankle wrap and black leather. Big mistake. They kept getting coated in dust and I didn't want to ruin the leather by washing them in water. But the vendors' section of the festival would soon offer a solution:
Enter Nomadic State of Mind Sandals!
These sandals are the best festival/summer footwear EVER. They are made out of rope and are machine washable.  I know rope doesn't sound very comfortable, but they mold to the shape of your foot so quickly and offer a surprising amount of support. At the festival, they were only $35 a pop and became one of the most popular vendor purchases.  Next to the Nomadic State of Mind tent was a pile of discarded flip-flops, which must have been so uncomfortable to stand in all day! Ditch the flip-flops people!  Wear Nomadic State of Mind instead! Buy yours here.

- Shannon

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Fifty Shoes That Changed the World

A book that I have nearly worn out from reading so often is the Design Museum's Fifty Shoes That Changed the World.  It was a Christmas gift, and was one of many things that made me realize that I am a shoe fanatic. I recommend it to every shoe/design lover.  It offers a shoe journey from the factories in London ...

where the Plimsoll was manufactured, 

to the iconic red slippers worn by Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, 

to the subculture phenomenon Doc Marten's eight-eyelet boots, 

to the resurgence of Birkenstock

to Christian Loubotin's Extreme Ballerina Heels 2, 

to recent designs in plastic by Vivienne Westwood for Melissa.

But the real star of the book for me was the one and only Salvatore Ferragamo.  I'm very embarrassed to say that I had been largely unaware of his accomplishments as a shoe designer until reading this book.  He is the creator of the cage heel, the invisible sandal, and most notably, the cork wedge.  In 1937, the cork wedge became the first patent in the history of fashion.  High up on my long list of places to see is the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence, home to thousands of shoes, many of which are Ferragamo's original designs between 1920 and 1960.  His name lives on today as the company has expanded into ready-to-wear, leather goods, eyewear and watches.
There is one little thing that the book lacked for me. Plenty of different types of footwear are included from boots to sandals to one-metre long, illuminated, unwearable sneakers.  Every time I re-read this book I can't help but wonder: where are the Adidas? Perhaps I am biased because Adidas is my favourite sneaker company, but shoes from both Converse and Nike earn their place in the 50, so why not Adidas? Let's examine the evidence.
For Converse...
...we have the All-Star basketball shoe. Obviously an iconic shoe for many reasons: one, an early instance of celebrity endorsement when Converse hired basketball star Chuck Taylor in 1921 for promotions and his name began appearing on the ankle patch of the shoe, where it has stuck ever since. Two, Andy Warhol put the shoes in a painting.  Three, the Ramones wore them, and it doesn't get much cooler than that.
For Nike... 

  ... the Waffle trainer and the Air Jordan 1.  So, the Waffle trainer has a great story behind it.  The Oregon shoe company, Blue Ribbon Sports was a manufacturer Onitsuka Tiger's running shoes. One of the founders of said company was Bill Bowerman, who was obsessed with jogging, designing running shoes and testing new materials for lighter sneakers. He developed the waffle sole of the Waffle trainer after pouring liquid polyurethane in his wife's waffle iron.  The shoe was launched in 1974 with great success, Nike became Nike in 1978, and the rest is sneaker history. Clearly, a defining moment in shoe history.  
The Air Jordan 1 was created as the Waffle trainer was losing popularity. In 1984, Nike recruited the new basketball sensation, Michael Jordan, to be the namesake and celebrity endorser of the shoe they developed. Does this story sound familiar? 23 models later, the Air Jordan is still one of the most popular Nike shoes and yet another example of the power of celebrity.
And now my case for Adidas...

... the Superstar.  The Adidas company was founded in 1948 by Adolf "Adi" Dassler after a conflict with his brother.  His brother, Rudolf Dassler, went on to found the shoe company Puma. Successful shoe family! I digress. The Adidas Superstar features the company's trademarked three stripes and it's own signature shelltop.  The Superstar started in basketball courts but made it's way to the feet of rap group Run DMC.  They wore the shoes without laces and the tongue sticking out. They even wrote a song about them! Listen here. Adidas soon signed an endorsement deal with Run DMC, the first ever between a rap group and a major corporation. Oh look, another story about celebrity endorsement...
Basically, if I had my way, there would be Fifty-One Shoes That Changed the World. The contribution Adidas has made to sneakers and streetwear isn't one that should be overlooked. But, maybe I am still biased. I'm passionate about my shoes! 

- Shannon

First post!

Welcome to my blog! I'm so flattered that you are reading this! You look great today.
I decided to start this blog because I was bored, I love shoes and I love writing.  You know, sometimes I feel vain for my obsession with footwear, but then I remind myself that shoes are what you are wearing wherever you may be going; they can help you stand a little taller and feel a little bolder. 
I have big plans for my teeny blog! Many more posts to come!

- Shannon