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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Archive for August, 2011

A Ballet Dancer’s Personal Collection of Red Vintage Shoes in The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

Charles Jourdan Paris ~ Modified Mary Jane ~ circa 1980

I love red shoes. I have always loved them. There is something incredibly wonderful about red shoes.There is also the wonderful 1948 ballet movie The Red Shoes.

Regarding the topic of Red Shoes in my collection. I am in the process of photographing and documenting all the vintage shoes in my collection , The Lady Violette Shoe Collection. I know I have many red ones, but I don’t know how many yet. I still have lots of shoes to go through. Many have been packed up in boxes for several years and several moves. I think I have the most black shoes, then brown and then red! Thinking about this last night I thought it would be a good idea, being a dancer,  to look at them as a sub collection of my collection.  That is as A Ballet Dancer’s Collection of Red Shoes! So here are some of them:

Tie~On Cherry Red Pump by Charles Jourdan Paris 1978

Being a ballet dancer I was introduced to the 1948 movie The Red Shoes starring the red headed ballerina Moira Shearer as a child. I think it is the best ballet movie ever made. It is based on the story of The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Anderson about a girl who acquires a pair of demonic red shoes that won’t let her stop dancing. She is unable to take them off and eventually dances to her death. Heavy stuff!

Red Via Spiga Pump with Snake Trimmed Toe ~ Italy 1982

In the film we have Moira as a real life woman who is a ballet dancer who is cast in a ballet based on the fairy tale. More heavy stuff. Life and art intertwine. There is conflict between her personal life and her dance career. Strife! Melodrama! Fabulous dancing and choreography in 1948 technicolor. Incredible French couture suits and gowns. Drama, and eventually, unable to resolve anything and terribly conflicted, Moira jumps off a balcony in Monte Carlo after a performance of The Red Shoes, still wearing her long pink Degas style tutu and red satin pointe shoes. All the people who have been pulling her in every direction rush to the scene where she is now lying on the train tracks covered with blood and barely alive. (I always notice that her feet are still pointed incredibly hard – which is evidence of her excellent training at the Royal Ballet School in London!) and, barely able to speak, she finally whispers, “Take off the red shoes,” which they do and then, sadly, she dies!

Delman New York ~ Red Suede Color Block Pump ~ 1985

This sounds kind of extreme but it isn’t. It is a really well done film based on very real ballet personalities and history that anyone in the dance world is actually familiar with. The acting and the dancing, as well as the writing and cinematography could not be better. And the final result is still, more than 60 years after it was made, the best ballet movie ever. I must also point out that it is not a horror movie like last years hideous Black Swan. It is a good movie about a unique subculture, the world of professional ballet, and a dancer’s life, that is performed by real ballet dancers who do an incredibly good job. The audience leaves loving ballet, wanting to see more of it, and appreciating what is involved in doing it! That is success! You also want red shoes. Not the demonic ones of the fairy story, but really gorgeous ones from Paris, Italy and New York. Perhaps that movie was why I developed a life long love of red shoes! It had to be one reason! I also love wearing them with pink dresses as the girl in the story did and I have often done so.

Herbert Levine Red Patent Pump with Grosgrain Bow ~ Circa 1950s

In contrast, the movie Black Swan, was horror movie in every way including the horrible performance of non-dancer Natalie Portman as a ballerina! You have to be joking! No one can pretend to be dancing ballet! As a former professional ballet dancer and  teacher myself I was not convinced by anything in that film. What is more it did the art form of ballet a terrible disservice by making people who saw the film think that the world of ballet and the people in it were crazy. It was all in all a terrible film and in my opinion should never have won an Oscar, but we know that the Oscars are all politics!

Sweet Red Parisian Pump with Bow ~ Circa 1960s

If you want to see beautiful ballet and a great film find a vintage copy of the Red Shoes and treat yourself to seeing the very best! The vintage clothes in Moira Shearer’s wardrobe are also an incredible visual treat. And the entire movie takes place in Monte Carlo, Paris and London.  It has everything! Like Red Shoes themselves the film is a classic and always will be!

Red Leather Bandelino Pump ~ 2008

Meanwhile, back to the topic of Red Shoes in my collection. I will photograph them all as I rediscover them and continue to add them to this grouping:

Lipstick Red Soft Leather BC Booties

That is:  A Ballet Dancer’s Collection of Red Shoes! From The Lady Violette Shoe Collection. I hope you enjoy it and are inspired to collect and wear red shoes and to see the 1948 ballet film The Red Shoes.

Photos by Fredric Lehrman.

Shoes from the Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Tea for Two ~ Herbert Levine T-Strap Shoes ~ Designed by Beth Levine for Beth’s Bootery ~ circa 1970

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Here is a darling pair of classic T-Strap pumps  in black suede designed by Beth Levine for Herbert Levine shoes ~ circa 1970. This design was called Tea~for~Two, all her styles were given names ~ for fun and identification purposes.

Tea~for~Two T~Strap Pump by Beth Levine for Herbert Levine Shoes ~ Circa 1970

She produced this one for Little Shop Shoes as is printed in gold on the insole and it was sold at Nordstrom Best in Seattle, WA., where it was bought by one of my own family members! The shoes were too narrow for her, or any of the rest of us who followed, so they were never worn, just carefully saved, in their iconic red box neatly stored away! They are size 7.5 N and we all have real medium width feet.

Look Inside~ It says Little Shop Shoes!

However, Beth Levine was a personal friend, and we all knew she was going to be really famous! She has already won several Coty Fashion Awards. So it was logical for us to keep her shoes! And we were right! A couple of years ago a museum show was mounted in her honor which I attended in Bellevue, WA. And a book,  Beth Levine Shoes by Helene Verin was published around the same time to commemorate her work and the company she and her husband Herbert Levine owned. Of course we attended this and it was fascinating! If you love shoes, I recommend the book and the show if you ever get the chance to see it.

Little Shop Shoes were meant to be fashion forward for the younger woman. While the Herbert Levine Label shoes were more sophisticated. In fact as sophisticated as you could get! Here is an example, also in my personal collection, of a beautiful red patent Herbert Levine salon shoe purchased at Nieman Marcus. I have shown this pair on this blog before, but I wanted to put them together today.

Red Patent Pump with Grosgrain Ribbon Bow by Herbert Levine Shoes

Beth Levine designed all the shoes, but they named the company Herbert Levine Shoes because, at that time, all the other shoe designers were men. She had worked for most of them picking up her skills by osmosis, first as a shoe model and later as a designer. The whole story can be found in the book above.

What isn’t in the book is the story of Beth and Herbert Levine and me! I met them when I went to New York City to dance with the City Center Robert Joffrey Ballet. Their daughter was a student at the Joffrey Ballet School and we became friends. She introduced me to her father, the famous Herbert Levine, but I didn’t really know how famous he was! He just seemed really nice. Father and daughter took me home to meet Beth Levine and we all ended up going out to dinner. We got on famously. They were very interested in the arts and artists and, after a few get togethers they ended up inviting me to move into their Greenwich Village Apartment. Thus, I ended up living with them for several months, getting to know them and many of their friends and getting a first hand education from them on what made good shoes good shoes. Beth was high energy and extremely funny. She was also under a tremendous amount of personal pressure with the responsibilities of running her company and constantly coming up with new ideas and designs. I could see that the life of a famous shoe designer was not 100% glamor! It was a lot of really hard work. They were under an immense amount of pressure to come up with new ideas and stay on the cutting edge. She worked all the time. She seemed very tired a lot of the time.

Herbert Levine was a wonderful flamboyant man who wore a dramatic burgundy long cape overcoat as a trademark and literally swash buckled in it. He was very fashionable. He liked the theater and actors and always was attending plays. It is no wonder that their daughter eventually decided to become an actress. She is Anna Levine Thompson and has had a long and successful acting career in New York City in theater and films.

Photos by Fredric Lerhman.

Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Lavender in Cocktails – Herbs and Spices in the Cocktail Mixology

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

If you enjoy using herbs and flowers, as I do, in cocktails, I highly recommend this book, Herbs and Spices in Cocktail Mixology by bartender Humberto Marques, whose Paulita Cocktail Recipe I shared yesterday.

Lavender Herb Photograph

Recipe for the Divine Paulista Cocktail Using Lavender Syrup & Blueberries ~ Lady Violette Approved!

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

I’m always on the lookout for cocktail recipes using lavender or violets. This one, the Paulista , created by Humberto Marques, who tends bar at Oloruso in Edinburgh, Scotland is great!Paulista Cocktail - Humberto Marques - Oloroso, Edinburgh Scotland

Vintage Needlepoint Bangle Bracelets & Evening Purses ~ Circa 1950 ~ From The Lady Violette Jewelry Collection

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Needlepoint Bracelets ~ Circa 1950s

I never know what interesting and unusual treasure I will find when strolling through thrift and antique shops! Last summer I saw a woman working in a shop who was wearing a needlepoint bangle bracelet. I thought it was really lovely so I asked her about it. She had gotten it in France at a flea market. It was not for sale. But I wanted one now! So, I kept my eyes open, and, after a year of looking, I now have this little collection of my own!

Round Needlepoint Evening Purse ~ Circa 1950s

From what I can tell they are made in France or Belgium – like the vintage evening purses that feature similar needlepoint depictions of flowers and birds. They make an attractive vintage accent on the close-fitting sleeve of a wool dress or sweater, and can be worn over a glove 50’s style for a pretty look. I like wearing one that way while carrying one of my small needlepoint purses to create a refined and ladylike vintage 50s look. It is an easy way to do something charming and unique to your look that you don’t see everyone else wearing! I found these in places like church and hospital charity thrift chops and a senior citizens rummage sale. They were priced very reasonably for what thy are! Which just goes to show you how charming you can look on a low budget if you are clever and willing to look for things in the correct places. Supporting these shops also does good for the community. I bought the round purse for $5! And the narrow bracelet was $4. The wider ones which are hinged and open in the middle were a splurge at $12 a piece! Real treasures in my opinion! And so distinctive!

Images of Garolini Shoes in The Lady Violette Shoe Collection ~ A Wardrobe & Personal History of Five Pairs of Special 1970’s Garolini Shoes.

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

I am in the process of going through all the shoes in my collection to photograph and inventory them and  take stock generally of what I have. After writing about the Poached Moose Shoes made by Garolini yesterday I decided it would be a good idea to take a look at all the Garolini shoes that I have and post pictures of them on the same page. So here goes!

I decided to list my five pairs of Garolini shoes as a seasonal shoe wardrobe for an imaginary fashionable 1970’s woman living in New York City who loved Garolini shoes and owned all five of these pairs! I have listed the shoes, what type of 1970’s appropriate high end designer clothes and jewelry she would have worn them with and some places where she would have worn them. What fun our fashionable 1970’s NYC friend must have had dressing up each day!

Classic Black Silk Satin Evening Pump by Garolini 1972! 

The first is an elegant black silk satin evening pump lined in silver and trimmed in sparkling crystals! Something our fashionable woman could wear with her slinky black Halston cocktail dress and her diamonds. They were her “practical Italian workhorses” that could also be worn with long gowns to black tie events at Lincoln Center.

Shining Silver Garolini Slingbacks for the 70's Disco

Next: A shining silver kidskin slingback pump was popular footwear for the Studio 54 disco scene paired with slinky solid color jersey dresses and Elsa Peretti’s silver jewelry from Tiffany.

Creamy Leather Garolini Cutaway Sandal with Delicate Ankle Straps was Perfect Wedding Footwear!

A stylish 70’s wedding called for a dressy feminine cream colored high heeled sandal to wear with an elegant cream lace designer gown and miles of Mikimoto Cultured Pearls.

A Perfectly Elegant Burgundy Leather Garolini Peep Toe Slingback Pump with Graceful Three Inch Heels.

For a fashionable 1970’s shopping spree and lunch with friends at Saks Fifth Avenue this elegant burgundy pump could be paired with a tweed designer suit one day and a floral print silk dress the next. The rich deep wine color was a beautiful foil for her piles of real gold Italian jewelry, matching designer leather handbag, large lens designer sunglasses and couture silk scarves. The burgundy colored Garolini leather even smelled like expensive perfume!

Garolini's Poached Moose Hide Pumps Were Made as a Specially Commissioned Gift for this Client in 1970.

She could wear them with subtle understated confidence with her Calvin Klien cashmere suit and border printed silk wrap dresses while attending both town and country meetings. This extra special personal pair of Garolinis was soft and comfortable and relaxed business could be conducted in utmost style, grace and comfort while wearing them. The custom designed moose hide pumps served as a secret talisman. The soft dove gray leather served as a perfect background for her collection of fine art jewelry made of stones and metals by international jewelry artists.

Story to be continued…

Photographs by Fredric Lehrman.

Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

Garolini Custom Made Soft Grey Moose Hide Pumps ~ early 1970s

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

The Poached Moose Hide Pumps

Clients could get shoes custom made to order in the 1970’s from the Garolini workshops in Italy. This pair of soft gray moose hide suede pumps is one such example. My grandfather had four pairs of them designed and made for my grandmother, my mother, and my two aunts. There is an interesting story behind these shoes.

Grandpa was a sheep and cattle rancher in Idaho. His ranch was called The Eldorado Land and Livestock Company. It was a large operation. He raised organic sheep and cattle and farmed many crops including famous Idaho potatoes, sugar beets, raspberries, wheat, corn and alfalfa. His center of operations was a large ranch in southern Idaho near  a small town named Melba after a family cousin. His operation was huge and he owned and operated several adjacent ranches.

Every June the family took their livestock to beautiful Bear Valley in the northern part of the state of Idaho to the summer grazing lands. Bear Valley is a National  Sate Park run by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. My grandfather was one of five ranchers who had a 99 year family lease with  grazing rights on this Federal Land. He had built a large summer house ~ which was a giant log cabin lodge ~ for his family to stay in and supervise the livestock operation during the summers. He employed Basque sheep herders who were also master leather workers on his ranches. He was a fan of fine leather goods. The Basque tanned hides and made many beautiful articles – saddles, bridles, harnesses, chaps, leather pack bags and feed bags, luggage, purses, and boots and shoes. One man made amazing soft and tough light gray moose hide moccasins for everyone in the family who all wore them as house slippers. It was because of these moccasins that my grandfather eventually decided moose hide would be a suitable material for ladies’ luxury shoes.

Grandpa decided that moose hide might be a good material for ladies' luxury shoes!

As soon as school was out my brother and I were sent from Portland, OR ~ where we lived with out parents during the school year ~  to summer on the ranches in Idaho. After about two weeks “down below” as my grandmother called it, on the main Southern Idaho ranch, where it was very hot and infested with rattle snakes on the Snake River, we would be taken North up to the Mountains to Bear Valley, where it was much cooler, to assist with the summer livestock drive. We spent about 8 weeks there, in the most beautiful pristine and isolated alpine meadows and forests you can possibly imagine. We lived in the “cabin” which was a beautiful two-story four bedroom hand built log house. There was no electricity and there were no people for miles. We had fresh clear water piped into the house from the icy cold mountain stream, a wood stove, kerosene lamps, several fireplaces, and a treadle sewing machine. In my opinion it was absolutely luxurious. We had all necessities and many luxuries and it was clean and exquisitely beautiful. We lived at the top of an Alpine meadow full of colorful wildflowers and blue butterflies. Wild strawberries and huckleberries grew profusely. There were many kinds of edible flowers, roots and berries one could gather and eat in salads or use as accent dishes on their own. My grandfather taught me to identify and use them. We caught fresh natural trout and white fish in the stream and ate them daily. And we made bread and pancakes from sour dough started that my grandfather’s mother had brought with her when he emigrated to the United States from Denmark as a seven year old boy.

The big log house was built on the edge of a meadow near a fir woods. Just inside the cover of the woods, where you could see it at a comfortably long distance from the kitchen window, my grandfather had set up a salt lick to attract deer so we could observe them.  As soon as they realized we were safe they came every morning and we sat at the kitchen table, sipping hot chocolate, and quietly observing them. There were usually a couple of small spotted fawns as well as the adults. It was peaceful and beautiful.

We had horses and our grandfather would take us out on two day pack trips to explore the wilderness area. It was very remote.  He and his herd men had a lot of work and responsibility, which we, as grades school aged children did not, but, we were required to work at anything suitable they assigned us to do. In my case it was helping with cooking and caring for the herd dogs which I really enjoyed. When time allowed and opportunities presented themselves, he would take us to do wonderful things like fishing or huckleberry picking, or to observe a herd of about 200 wild moose grazing in a remote mountain meadow. We would hide quietly in the trees and watch them for several hours. It was a magnificent experience. I remember tall ethereal and lacey purple fire weed flowers blooming in the lush meadow grasses. Small blue alpine butterflies were plentiful.

I thought this must be one of the most beautiful places in the world and looked forward to going there every summer. The area was not open to the public. You could only enter it with permits from the Forestry Department. It was completely closed to campers and tourists. As young children we knew we were very privileged to be able to spend time there. The area was remote so there were certain dangers. There was no electricity, there were no phones or telegraphs. We were completely isolated and dependent on the adults in out family who were experienced and  knew the ways of the woods and the wildlife.  The uniqueness of our situation was impressed upon us. We knew we were lucky. We were in the unique position of spending out school year in a city with cultural and educational advantages, and out summers in the country on a working farm and in the mountain wilderness. We had the best of both possible worlds.

Personally, in Bear Valley, at that time of my life,  I felt like I was in heaven. In contrast, my mother and my aunts hated the place. It must be remembered that the adult women were responsible for taking care of small children and feeding hard working men without modern conveniences like washing machines and stoves. Everything had to be done by scratch. Clothes, and cloth diapers, had to be washed by hand with washboards in tubs in the sink using water boiled on the wooden stove. All the cooking had to be done on the wood stove. My mother was a professional nurse and if anyone got sick or injured she was responsible for sewing them up or taking care of emergencies. Things did happen. My grandfather had been a wagon train scout in his early teens in the the late 1800’s before homesteading in Idaho and building up his livestock and ranching business. Now that I am an adult women I can completely understand my mother’s feelings. She had to go there for a couple of months each summer to help with the family business and she fulfilled her obligations, but she preferred her nice house in the city with all her modern comforts and conveniences and access to her friends. She missed her telephone, her phonograph and records, the movies, cocktails and her clothes. And she said, more than once, that she missed wearing nice shoes while she was stuck up in the mountains!

You couldn't wear pretty feminine dress pumps like these while you were up in the mountains!

Bear Valley was a Designated Wildlife Preserve. Thus hunting was illegal. My grandfather was very much involved with the Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service in conservation efforts. He went to Washington  DC as a consultant for the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. National and state level forestry service and conservation people and organizations consulted with him regularly. Interesting people and top level officials were always coming by to meet with him. He was well known for his professionalism and commitment to the cause. He was 100% pro wildlife. He had unique hands on personal experience in all aspects of the wilderness. He was an expert.

Naturally, if someone violated any of the wildlife in the area, or the land, my Grandfather was enraged and flew into immediate action. The summer I was eight a poacher somehow entered the property and shot and killed a moose, then ~ probably afraid ~ left the carcass abandoned in a mountain meadow. My grandfather found it when he was riding out to check on his herds. It was a fresh kill. He was incensed. He and his herders brought the dead moose back to the to the herder’s campsite in the meadow near the log house. They searched for the poacher but never found him. They soon filed reports with the Idaho Forestry Department looking for the vandal. Wanted posters were put up everywhere in the small towns and forestry posts leading into the mountains trying to search him out, but he was never apprehended. Legally my grandfather and his men they were allowed to take possession of the  carcass.  They were determined to use the entire thing. I was impressed by how huge it was. They expertly skinned and butchered it, processed the meat and tanned the hide. That winter we ate a lot of moose steaks and moose burgers. Moose is very tough and has a strong game flavor. My grandfather was angry that a huge beautiful moose had been shot, but seemed determined to use every bit of it. Being who he was, there was no way he would allow an ounce of any part of it to go to waste.

My mother and my aunts were not delighted that they had to help process all this moose meat, nor that they were going to have to figure out creative ways to prepare and use it.  There were hundreds and hundreds of pound of it! They correctly visioned that they were going to have to coax their children to eat it all through the next winter in order to please their father. And they did. They would have preferred to go to Safeway once a week and buy steaks wrapped up in neat see through modern grocery store display packages. Instead they had meat lockers full of organic sides of beef, entire pigs, slabs of bacon, large cuts of lamb,  white butcher paper wrapped chuck or pot roasts and two pound packages of tough moose and bear burger that they had to coerce their children into eating.

The Basque sheep herders, on the other hand, were delighted to have the large and luxurious moose hide to work with and went right to work to properly process it. Moose hide is special. It is very soft when properly cured. Also very strong and has a lovely soft,  almost powdery, dove gray color. And apparently, it is waterproof, or ended up being so when they got through working on it.

At the end of the summer we were sent home to Portland on the train (from the Boise, Idaho train station) with metal footlockers packed full of frozen organic beef and lamb tucked under our feet in the coach section as we rode home just in time to start school in the fall. Our father was a college professor in Portland and our mother was a nurse. My rancher grandfather was sure that they would never be able to get us proper meat or enough of it to get through the winter with proper nutrition so he sent us home with enough to fill two meat lockers at the end of every summer. This year we had a third foot locker full of ground moose burgers and moose steaks. All this meat was frozen rock solid when we left Idaho. The train ride was 16 hours long. The meat was expertly packed and still stone hard when we got home to Portland. My father would pick us, and the hundreds of pounds of meat ,up at the Multnomah County Train Station in downtown Portland and swing by Peterson’s Meat Market where the family kept a sub zero frozen meat locker on the way home. The first stop was always to drop off the meat. I had to walk to the meat market a couple of times a week, go into the freezing locker, and get out the packages of frozen meat for the weeks meals and carry it home. I was responsible for picking up and putting the right cuts of meat out to thaw on a schedule coordinated with my mother so that it would be ready to prepare meals according to her menu plans when she was ready to cook it. She was an ardent practitioner of Juliet Child’s French Cooking. Her best friend was Adelle Davis, the health food maven.

Thanks to my grandfather’s ranching and farming expertise and my grandmother’s and mother’s great cooking we had fantastic food and I grew up learning to cook very well from scratch. Our lives were all about raising, preparing and eating great food!

What on earth, you must be wondering, does any of this have to do with the pair of Garolini shoes pictured at the beginning of this post?

Well, lots actually!

My mother and her two sisters were born and raised on the Ranch of the Eldorado Land and Livestock Company in Southern Idaho. Her father was an outdoors man who became a very successful and wealthy rancher. He wanted to provide his wive and three daughters with all  good things: educations, travel and exposure to society and the arts, fashion and culture. He sent them to college. And he sent them to live for extended periods with our relatives in Texas who worked for Nieman Marcus as top fashion models and designer clothing buyers in Europe. He expected his daughters to help out now and then in the family ranching business ~ in ways like going to Bear Valley in the summer as described above. They dutifully did as he requested. Mostly out of respect for his desires and to humor him. You had to do things his way for him to be happy with your efforts.

Every two or three years Grandpa would take his wife and three daughters on a really grand vacation as a reward for how well he was doing in his ranching business. He never invited or included their husbands or children ~ his grandchildren (that would have been me, so I missed out!) This was Grandpa’s way of bonding with his immediate family and sharing his success with them. They traveled to Egypt, China, Japan, South America, Hawaii, Brazil, Mexico, Africa, Italy, Scandinavia, Australia, Greenland, England, Scotland, France, Spain and eventually Italy. He arranged to study agricultural  practices or wine making, or diamond mining, or some other practice or methods related to his own businesses on each trip so that he could write off his travel expenses. He expected his daughters to research every place and thing they would visit, and develop detailed itineraries before they left. They did so dutifully. And it was well worth it for their spectacular vacations and travel experiences.

On their travels they stayed in the world’s fanciest resorts and best hotels. Grandpa played the role of a Grand Old School American Businessman while his wife and three daughters thoroughly enjoyed themselves touring castles and museums, dining in fine restaurants and shopping. A grand time was had by all. Each trip lasted three of four weeks after which the girls returned home decked out in all manner of ethnic or European designer finery, furs, African diamonds, Scandinavian silver, fine Brazilian cowboy boots, etc. and, finally, after one spectacular trip, the finest in Italian leather goods and shoes!

Grandpa had lasts of his feet made in Argentina and ordered fancy custom made cowboy boots of exotic leathers made every year. He had rows and rows of them. He had cowboy hats made in Panama, saddles and tack in Spain, tailored clothing in London, a huge opal ring in Australia, leather luggage in Mexico, etc. He had fine cigars sent from Honduras. He played the guitar and someone somewhere had made him a beautiful custom instrument. He loved to reward himself with world travel and he loved to bring back wonderful luxuries from his sojourns.

When in Italy, in 1970, Grandpa and his wife and daughters had visited the Garolini Shoe Factory, and, as was his want, he had found out that one could get personal lasts made and have shoes custom made to fit their own feet to their own design specifications. The entire family had lasts made of their feet. When Grandpa got home he sent enough of the poached Bear Valley moose hide to the Garolini factory to make four pairs of ladies shoes. He asked them to make a pair of moose hide pumps for his wife and each of his three daughters as Christmas presents. Thus it was that Garolini designed and made four custom pairs of the soft gray moose hide pumps pictured above ~ one pair for my grandmother, and one pair each for my mother, and my two aunts.

The moose hide shoes are really lovely and feminine in person. They are a subtle soft dove gray color and velvety soft in texture ~ taking full advantage of the natural coloring and textural characteristics of the moose hide. The inside is the unlined raw suede wrong side of the hide and is very soft and comfortable on your foot. The shoes feature a punctured design for decoration and ventilation. My grandfather requested this characteristic in the design as it gets very hot in the summers in Southern Idaho and he thought it would be good for his wife and three daughters’ feet. The leather soles are edged in a fine black line and the tasteful 3 inch high heels are made with stacked leather soles also colored black to accent the gray moose hide uppers. The throat of the shoe is finished off with a 3/8″ piping of smooth gray kidskin dyed to match the moose hide exactly but of a smoother shinier texture. The insole is made in light gray leather and signed Garolini in silver script, made in Italy.

The Family Heirloom Moose Hide Shoes ~ Christmas 1970

This was a limited edition of four pairs of these shoes made to order for the women in the Rex Sylvainius Jensen Family. Three pairs were worn a great deal and I do not know their whereabouts. They have probably been discarded along the way. My mother only wore hers a few times and kept them very carefully. That is the pair I have. And I am fortunate that it fits me! As I inherited her feet! She thought these shoes were really special and wore them in the house on the carpets when people would come over for dinner. They were definitely conversation pieces!

My grandparents especially liked having things custom made as gifts for family members from materials harvested, produced. or raised on their ranches. For example, they had their sheep shorn, sent the raw wool to the Pendelton Woolen Mills in Pendelton, Oregon to be washed, carded and carefully spun into wool for custom made, dyed and personalized blankets. It was nice, for instance, as a little girl, to get an apricot colored blanket at Christmas made from Bessie’s wool with my name embroidered on it in a flowing green chain stitch.

These old fashioned refined personal gestures seemed so thoughtful!

Photographs by Fredric Lehrman.

Shoes from the Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

 

La Dolce Vita ~ Classic 1970 Garolini Evening Sandals in Cream Leather Fashioned Like Cut Work Linen Lace

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Cream Leather Evening Sandal ~ by Garolini circa 1970

The Italian company Garolini made beautiful feminine shoes that were extremely popular in the 1970’s high fashion world. Shoes for La Dolce Vita! Here is a lovely pair done in cream leather with delicate straps wrapping around the heel and buckling at the ankle. The vamp is designed, cut and stitched to look like leather cut linen lace. I think these shoes work beautifully with this Moygashal Linen Cut Work Lace Dress from the same time period! A perfect wedding ensemble! The dress is actually going to be worn as a wedding dress on September 6th, in New York. The perfect girl and the perfect dress found each other!

Vintage Moygashal Linen Cut Work Lace Dress

My Amazing Quest for Beautiful Liberty of London Vintage Ties

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

Beautiful Banners ~ Liberty of London Vintage Ties - Circa 1960's

A while back I wrote a post about my Liberty of London Scarf collection. That is one of my favorite blog posts I have done yet!

After doing it I received a nice response from the Liberty of London Social Media Team complimenting me on my scarf collection, writing and photographs.  They seamed really pleased that I had the collection of their vintage scarves and had put up the photos to share them. I have been thinking about  that ever since as I have several other Liberty items. I love the fabrics. I realize I have scarves, skirts, blouses, and now men’s ties! I even have some makeup in packages designed by Liberty of London in collaboration with Mac Cosmetics.

This is What to Look for On the Flip Side Liberty of London Men's Ties - the Fabrics and the Labels

Because the scarves go so beautifully and comfortably around women’s necks I felt it was logical to explore what went around men’s necks next! I have seen artistic and fashionable men wear one of the Liberty of London Scarves occasionally and personally I think it looks great ~ but, let’s face it, not many men are wearing ascots these days! That was popular in Victorian times and in the 1940’s and 50’s. Men are getting really casual about their dress in the last couple of decades. They hardly even wear ties anymore! But they were in fashion for everyman in the middle of the last century! Doesn’t that phrase sound long ago? I feel like I just said something straight out of Oscar Wilde! The Importance of Being Ernest, perhaps, because I am earnest about this!

A Sampling of Liberty of London Vintage Ties - circa mid 1950's - mid 1960's ~ From Top to Bottom and Narrow to Wide

In the 1950’s, 60’s and very early 70’s Liberty of London made elegant ties for men out of their signature prints and fabrics. The earlier ones were traditional rather narrow width styles in the 1950’s and 60’s, elegantly done, in paisleys and small traditional silk prints and often utilized many of the subdued English Arts and Crafts type botanical prints in silks and wools. These suited the traditional English Tailored Gentleman Style of dressing very well.

In Chronological Order ~ Fanning Left to Right the Two on the Left are From the 1950's English Tailored Gentlemen's Style ~ the Two on the Right are From the Flower Child Style Eruption in the mid 1960's

Then, with the Flower Child Style eruption in the 1960’s bold full blown colorful flower patterns became popular. Liberty of London’s ties were often wider and more dramatic in both shape and coloring.  They were made from some of the more flamboyant archival floral prints from the Liberty of London Fabric Collection. I have seen them done in cotton, silk, and wool challis. The Liberty designers also issued new prints to meet the 1960’s fashion world’s demand for color and big flowers. Liberty’s style was particularly suited for this opportunity! As the demand for these more flamboyant men’s ties emerged some women’s scarves were also issued in brighter palettes for the more fashion forward. Somebody in the marketing department of Liberty was very wisely looking ahead ~ making sure to attract a younger clientele for the present and future success of the company. Liberty of London has always been very aware of its market combined with what is happening in the society at any given time. That is one of their very strong points as a company.

Note the Labels on These Flamboyant Mid 1960's Liberty of London Ties! By Now They Were Notating Which Prints They Used Were New and Which Were Taken From Their Archival Designs. Note the Customization of Their Tie Linings As Well!

The mainstream fashion world’s high point for popularity for mens’ Liberty of London ties was the 1960’s. They were coveted by hip dressers in the fashion forward cities in the United States, Canada and Western Europe. That fad died down in 1970’s,  but Liberty, of course, continued to make traditional ties as they always had for their English Tailored Gentlemen Style customers. Elegant, subdued and distinctive these ties could be spotted a mile away by those in the know. I saw them now and then on distinguished gentlemen.

This is a good point to mention that the Liberty of London Company is very British and steadfast in the sense that they always can be relied upon to consistently produce certain types of old reliable items that their permanent admirers want – fashion fads notwithstanding.

I became really interested in exploring the Liberty of London print ties right after writing my blog post on the Liberty scarves. I had long been aware of them, but I had never owned any before that. Two things happened to whet my appetite for finding some. My general resurgence of interest in all things Liberty of London because of my scarf tying and writing post and secondly, the fact that a friend of mine asked me to help him shop for and co~ordinate a business wardrobe. We went shopping for men’s clothes for 2 days – in a big hurry because he had to leave for Tokyo for a week of meetings, and being in IT in Seattle, had been dressing casually for work for the last 10 years. He had no dress clothes! We had to do everything at once. That is hard and I do not recommend it. You ideally need to allow more time to co~ordinate things and get alterations done!

We flew into action. I must admit I am very good at this and I really enjoy personal wardrobe consulting. I knew what stores to go to for what brands and what was on sale. This man is very tall and thin and has a hard time finding ready made shirts and jackets with long enough sleeves and slim bodies ~ as well as pants with small waists and long enough inseams. This is one reason he hates going shopping and puts it off as long as possible. We bought everything! And after getting the main pieces down we got to the fun part ~ selecting ties. Until we looked at the prices! The new silk designer ties are really expensive! As much as, or more than, women’s designer scarves! My friend had sticker shock! We had to buy three because we had no time to search for bargains. He had to get alterations done and leave town packed by the next day. I had an alterations connection who was willing to do a rush job. We got him packed, and off to Tokyo looking fantastic with enough clothes for a week of business meetings in the very critical Tokyo design and advertising world where the men are very fashion conscious. They even flash their labels to show you who designed what they are wearing. They are absolute competitive fashion sharks! The modern day version of the dandies of the French court.

His clothes worked out. Everything was a hit. While he did business in Tokyo I got busy learning about vintage ties. I went online and searched for vintage tie dealers and looked at their offerings and prices. They were considerably less expensive than the boutique and department store ties we had just looked at and had to buy in the shops due to the rush we were in. I memorized the desirable designer names and absorbed their looks. I made myself a mental tie dictionary. Ties are complicated! And very sophisticated. New ones, as I mentioned above, are very costly. I decided to hit the local thrift shops, consignment and vintage shops to see what I could find. Ties are something I like to see, feel and inspect in person. ties are very sensual.

I live in Seattle, WA. Men have not been dressing up much for work in the IT industry here for decades. For me this was very fortunate. No one was buying ties and there were lots to be had. Especially lots of awful ones! These little resale shops were loaded with possibilities! This was how I began my Liberty Tie Collection. I searched for vintage ties, knowing what kind I was hoping to find and after looking at about 1,000 truly, finally, found one Liberty of London vintage tie!

I was spurred on! About 500 ties later, I found another one! About 2,000 ties after that, yet another! And so on. Last week, I had four and decided it was time to photograph them to write this post. So I did. Then, driving home from town last night, I stopped at the Goodwill and jackpot! I found yet another one! I now have five! Altogether 5 Liberty of London vintage ties. 5! I am so excited! And, just so you know, I have to get excited to write about these things!

And I must admit I have also picked up many other ties that are really nice from different designers as well.  I now have a basic collection of about 40, altogether, great men’s vintage ties. Why? You may wonder, being a woman? Well, because I like the fabrics and the way they are made, and I decided it would be fun to have them around to loan to my male friends who are always needing help with their clothes! I am also figuring out ways to use them myself and think I will incorporate them into my own wardrobe in some very feminine menswear inspired looks this fall and winter. Something to look forward to! Hopefully I will blog about that! I will certainly try!

I decided the time was ripe, I must write about my Liberty of London Vintage Tie Quest this this very weekend.

Study the Front Side as Well as The Flip Side ~ Inspect the Ties Carefully ~ if Buying Vintage You Want to be Sure the Tie You Pick is in Pristine Condition

As I drove home I thought about this: Vintage shopping takes time. You cannot go to a store because you know you need something and find it right then and there. You have to have a lot of patience and search and search. Over time. I cannot emphasize how long it takes to put together a decent collection of wearable art in this way. It is a constant work in progress. And it requires tremendous self discipline. I am always editing up. I have a rule, I have a limited amount of physical space and I must take as much out of my collections and get rid of it as I bring into them. Thus I am sorting and recycling constantly. I have kept many items for decades and some for only a few months. The hunt is part of the fun. You never know what will be around the next corner, what you may find, what new desire this might kindle within you. And, when you get one of these desires going you have to keep it smoldering in the back of your mind constantly, in order to keep the quest for finding it it fueled. Somehow, sending the message that you want something old and odd or unusual helps it to appear on your horizon. This really works! But you must have patience. Sometimes it takes two years or longer for something special to appear.

The Subtler Colorations of Traditional Silks From the 1950's Liberty of London Styles.

This is how it was, as you have read, with the Liberty Vintage Ties!

Then, all of a sudden, as I was driving home I remembered this:

About two years ago, when I was rushing around doing household errands in Target of all places, in Seattle, Washington, I remembered I had seen some men’s Liberty of London print ties for sale! They were part of the Liberty of London for Target collaboration that produced a variety of popular lifestyle accessories, from lamp shades, through throw pillows, clothing and my favorite ~ screen printed bicycles for women and children! I was busy. I was not paying attention. I did not look very hard. I did not buy anything from Liberty of London issued in collaboration with Target that day. In fact, at the time the Target/Liberty campaign was going on I didn’t get into it at all! I missed out on the entire thing! I wish I hadn’t! But I must say, I live in an area where Target is not very active. Very little of that companies special campaigns merchandise make it into the stores in my area. I have since become aware of this because some people I know are collaborating with Target merchandising and PR on developing on their I-phone Application.  In fact, one of those very people is the man whom I was helping with his trip to Tokyo business wardrobe.

This guy is a computer person. He is an IT professional. He is also a gamer. He has long teased me for my penchant for vintage shopping and collecting. He recently observed that thrifting is like gaming – it is all about the hunt, the unknown, the quest, what you will find around the next corner when you go out looking, and what that will lead you onto next. The reward, we vintage shoppers get, in our game, is the treasure we find to add to our collection at a price we are willing to pay. He has observed that people who are “addicted” to thrifting are similar to gamers in this way. He uses this as justification for spending much time gaming, of course! Time I think he should be spending some of shopping so that his wardrobe is ready when he needs it!

Collection of Liberty of London Vintage Scarves ~ Circa 1960's

I do know some thrift shoppers who love to shop because they find it “so relaxing.” these people buy something of everything. I am different. I actually find thrift shopping quite stressfull. I think this is because I am honing in on a particularly small areas of highly specialized and hard to find items. Rare stuff that one hardly ever comes across. And I am way over the thrill of looking through tons of garbage to possibly find it. I actually do not like to have too much stuff around. And all of it must be orderly and neat and in very good condition. I turn down 90% of what I find because it is not pristine enough to fit my standards.

I clean and repair everything as soon as I acquire it if that is necessary. I don’t want to have anything dirty or needing renovation lying around. This, in my opinion, is the advanced stage of successful collecting! These are the ways I have managed to assemble my own collections. I would say that operating within limitations is generally a good guideline. In this case I was looking specifically for the men’s version of the Liberty of London neck pieces ~the ties ~ made in the same time period as my women’s vintage Liberty of London scarves. I was also looking for about the same number of them ~ four or five. I often actually set out with a number like this in mind as I don’t want to feel overwhelmed by having to find or take care of too many. I find that I use and enjoy things if I have numbers of them that are under control.

Photographs of the ties are by Fredric Lehrman

Photographs of the scarves are by Violette de Courcy

 

 

Sharing Collections of Delicate Antique Textiles & Vintage Shoes ~ A Few Important Words of Caution

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

On Parade ~ Six Pairs of Treasured Vintage Alligator Shoes From the Lady Violette Shoe Collection. On the Left From Front to Back: DeLiso Debs, Herbert Levine, Anne Klein. On the Right From Front to Back: Andrew Geller, Via Spiga, Foot Flairs

I am eager to share my enthusiasm for vintage shoes and clothing with anyone who is interested. And I am always happy to share my knowledge and my collections – as long as nothing bad happens to them! I am delighted to be able to blog about them and post pictures and discuss the details with people online. I am pleased that this venue for sharing has evolved because it is so much safer and easier on the vulnerable vintage clothing and shoes to share them this way. Lending your physical collections out can be risky and hard on the delicate items. Please be warned by my past experiences.

Green Vintage Alligator Shoes by Maraolo ~ circa 1980's

I learned this the hard way when I loaned three dozen pairs of prize vintage one of a kind shoes to a venerable institution for display. They displayed them in light boxes which were supposed to be archival and safe for delicate dyes, cloth and leathers. Unfortunately, their museum light boxes turned out to be regular light. Even more unfortunately the dyes in my shoes were bleached or the colors turned by the strong light and the delicate old leathers dried out and shriveled up in some cases. The fabric shoes were bleached out beyond recognition. Just as your skin would be by over exposure to the sun. Remember, leather is skin!

All the shoes loaned out in that display were completely ruined. Fortunately, I had insurance, but it was an awful experience. And the shoes I lost can never be replaced. The worst of it is that I had carefully inquired to be sure the light boxes were safe and the shoes would be protected before they went on display and I was assured, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the light boxes were museum safe. As it turned out, the people in charge of the loaning and display contracts did not know what they were talking about!

Unfortunately I have heard horror stories of owners of delicate vintage clothing and accessories loaning them to local museums and department stores to display in their exterior facing store windows. The antiques are exposed to natural sunlight in store window displays. The sun exposure lasts all day, day after day. And, within a very short time, (it can happen in just one day!) the delicate old clothing and accessories are bleached and damaged beyond recognition by the sun! And permanently ruined. I think it is absolutely tragic to have something exquisite that has lasted decades or generations or centuries ruined in an instant of carelessness! It is completely irresponsible and tragic!

A large and very well known (and extremely successful) store in my city expanded a few years ago and sent out a call to the local citizenry for “interesting fashion objects that might have been bought there over the last 100 years” to put on display during the month of their grand opening. People with interesting items to loan sprang out of nowhere. The array of unique things was amazing and filled every store window. People were eager to participate and contribute to this bit of local history. Special things like Grandma’s wedding dress with a 30 foot train and Grandpa’s wedding tuxedo from 1910 were graciously loaned for their historical relevance and sentimental value.

Alligator Pumps by Foot Flairs ~ circa 1950's

Incidentally no one was compensated for loaning out their priceless family and personal treasures. Unfortunately, every article was returned to the owners, after being on display for a month, with terrible sun damage. The department store did not take any responsibility for any of this. They did not even apologize! Instead, they would not answer phone calls or inquiries or respond to calls or letters from concerned and disappointed owners when they received their damaged antique textiles back after the show. No one knew what to do because this place who had borrowed and displayed the items was well known and well respected in the community and therefore, expected to be responsible and know what they were doing! They didn’t. And when it came right down to it, they didn’t care!

Alligator Springolators By Beth Levine ~ circa 1950's

The same thing, essentially,  happened to me when my vintage shoes were returned to me, damaged, after I loaned them out for display as described above! Had I heard about the antique clothing incident prior to my own experience I would have been much more guarded that I was. I only learned about the above people who loaned things for the ill-fated window displays after my own shoe loan fiasco!

What I learned from this experience is that big businesses and corporations love to associate themselves with interesting people who have interesting collections that make them (the stores in this case) look good. These corporations are completely self serving. If something goes wrong, as in the cases with the antique clothing described above, or my vintage shoes being on display, they vanish, taking no responsibility for the items or individuals involved. This was all very unfortunate. Not to mention impolite and inconsiderate!

Another thing I learned from this is never to let other people handle my collections when I am not present. They will not be respectful or careful enough. No matter what they say! They do not have the knowledge or experience in most cases to handle valuable and delicate antiques with proper care. Now, if other people want to view or photograph my collections, I insist on being present so I can watch over the entire process.

I also insist on being paid for my time. After the shoe collection fiasco described here I also make sure the collection is adequately insured. However, insurance doesn’t completely protect one – it cannot even replace items like these because there are no replacements to be had! It can only compensate you with a little money if you are lucky, for irreplaceable items you have lost. This isn’t enough to make it worth it. I know because I have been through it.

Photograph by Frederic Lehrman, styled by Violette de Courcy.

Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

Storing and Caring For Vintage Shoes

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Six Pairs of Treasures Vintage Alligator Shoes in the Lady Violette Shoe Collection

You might wonder how I store the vast number of shoes in my collection?

This is constantly evolving. I have some shoes, flats, mules, ballets and slipper types, stored in traditional hanging shoe bags on the backs of my closet doors. I have the shoes I wear often stacked in shoe boxes or standing, ready to wear, in neat rows on the floors of my closet. Special shoes that I do not use often are stored in either their original shoe boxes neatly stacked according to maker and designer or color or style, or in the cases of shoes that do not have their original boxes, stored in new shoe boxes all the same size and color carefully labeled on both the top and one end of the box.I have a closet under a stairway in my house that is pretty big so all these shoe boxes are stored stacked in it. It is still roomy enough to get in there to get them out! I do not want to acquire so many that I cannot get at them! For this reason I am editing constantly. I decide to weed out some shoes for one reason or another. It is hard. They are all beautiful. Right now I have about 10 pairs for sale in my Etsy vintage store. They are great, just don’t go with my collection. When you collect you have to be very serious and have discipline. You cannot keep everything!

Because I am currently attempting to photo document all the shoes in my collection I am also going through all of them and repacking them carefully to be sure I have them properly stored. Some old and delicate shoes require me to keep them in archival cloth wrapping rather than tissue paper. I use old scarves for this purpose or pieces of clean cotton cloth cut into squares or rectangles with pinking sheers. I pre-wash the cotton fabric before cutting it into wrapping size pieces to remove any chemicals that could adversely effect the shoes.

Archival storage boxes should be used for very old and delicate shoes. I am in the process of researching the best source of such boxes now.

Shoes in boxes take up more room than they do without boxes. However it is important not to let the shoes knock against each other or get scratched or squashed. Shoes are actually quite delicate and require special handling. When moving large numbers of shoes I have packed them, all in their individual boxes, into large moving boxes. That seems to be the best way to do it so that every surface is protected.

Someone asked me recently if I had those gigantic fancy closets that you see in celebrity homes in magazines with rows and rows of shoes lined up on custom built shelves. The answer is no! I do not! I cannot afford to build such closets in terms of space or financial cost. I also should caution people about storing shoes that way because they are exposed to both light and dust. It is best to keep them covered and stored in darkness in their boxes so that light does not deteriorate the colors or fabric or leather surfaces.

Take good care of your vintage shoes! Think of keeping each special pair of shoes wrapped up in its little blanket carefully tucked into its own little box sleeping peacefully until you are ready to use it again.

Another important point is keeping your vintage shoes clean and dry. After wearing a pair clean it off if necessary, then let it air out completely for a day before putting it away. This way it should last many more decades. Of course, when I acquire a new pair of old shoes I clean them up if necessary and take them to my shoe repair shop if they need any repairs or renovations. Most of them do need cleaning and work when I receive them.

I wear a lot of my shoes. Carefully! I do not wear them out if it is raining, or to walk in tall wet grass for instance! I am cautious about what I expose them to and often carry an extra pair of less special shoes with me if I need to switch into them. I do not wear the oldest ones if they are in danger of falling apart. But, for the most part, I have found that aware wearing of the shoes seems to be good for them. After all they were made to be worn and enjoyed. And I certainly enjoy them!

With proper restoration and care vintage shoes you acquire and collect should last a long time.

The shoes in the photo are a small sampling of my vintage alligator shoe collection. All of them will be discussed and shown in detail in future posts.

Photo by Fredrich Lehrman, styled by Violette de Courcy.

Shoes from the Lady Violette de Courcy Shoe Collection

The Art or Lack of it on Shoeboxes! Some of DeLiso Debs Curious Vintage Boxes…

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I’ve shown several pairs of vintage DeLiso Debs by Palter DeLiso here on my blog and I also happen to have two vintage DeLiso boxes. It is always desirable to keep the original shoe boxes if possible but seldom happened in the vintage shoes in my experience. The boxes were originally only meant to house the shoes, protect them in transport and keep them clean until they reached their owner. Many people threw them away and stored their shoes in closets or hanging shoe bags. I am lucky (I guess,  but don’t decide until you see the way they look!) to have two of the early versions of the DeLiso Debs (or however you spell it!) boxes.

I recall seeing a dull gray blue cardboard one with white writing on it that came from the 40’s. I do not have one of those at this time. But the majority of the DeLiso boxes I have seen were either the orange or the blue or the gold version of the orange& pink one pictured below. This was what I call their Mid-Century Modern box design and I think it was the most popular and well known of the DeLiso boxes. It was first introduced in the 1950’s and stayed in use in one color version or another for a couple of decades. It became recognizable to the ladies who bought DeLiso Debs as their box.

Nowadays this packaging and branding is considered very important. Keep that thought in mind as you read on and ponder what they did next!

A Vintage 1950's Mid-Century Modern DeLiso Debs Shoe Box

The actual orange & pink box in this picture above was given to me with a different pair of shoes in it! A non-DeLiso pair of shoes! That is weird, but that is what happened. I know the brown Alligator shoes pictured would have come in a similar box so I am admittedly cheating a bit by sticking this pair of shoes in the box for the sake of a more interesting picture! It you look carefully the label on the end of the box says it originally housed a pair of black shoes! I know these came in the same era and the same style and color of box so, this is legitimate for the purpose of illustration. I have seen the same box design in a blue & aqua version and a gold & yellow version. The DeLiso logo was the same on all of these box colors – only the colors of the boxes changed.

I call this box design the Mid-Century Modern DeLiso Debs Shoe Box . (Please note, that is my name for it, not an official company name.) The company used this box for several decades. I find it cute and recognizable as the DeLiso Debs shoe box. The company grew and became more and more popular and successful.

The Horror of the "New DeLiso Box " - Circa late 1970's

Then, suddenly, in the late 1970’s, somebody in advertising suggested DeLiso change both their boxes and their name and the way they spelled it! They updated their image and boxes to the unbelievably horrible version in the yellow, gold and brown cardboard box shown above! They took the Debs out of the name! They respelled the name in ugly lettering. The eliminated all class and all vintage charm from the name, the label and the box!

Note the change in presentation of the name and how it is spelled. This was constantly changing and it never seemed to settle down. The only advantage to that was that a customer never had to worry if she was or was not spelling it correctly. It became terribly confusing. And it still is. It is as if all the letters that spell DeLiso have been agitating in a washing machine cycle for several decades. Where ever the letters land when the agitator stops is the way we’ll spell it today! This drives me nuts when I am trying to write about the company! It’s like the Dutch language, constantly evolving!

I wish the old box had crushed the new one and risen to prominence again!

I hate the 1970’s box! But, as far as I know there was not another box or container design after that. And the visual horrors do not end there! Wait until you see what they did to the inside of the shoes they made after that!

 

Amalfi by Rangoni’s Famous Delicate T~Strap Design With Feminine Flower Trim Popular in the 1950’s & Early 1960’s

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

 

An exquisitely graceful Amalfi style decorated with a charming flower.

Amalfi made some of the prettiest most feminine shoes of the early 1950’s ~ 1960’s. This delicate T-strap trimmed with a flower is made of  rich coppery brown suede accented with metallic leather is a lovely example ~ and yet another example of a very desirable and attractive brown shoe! They were made in Italy of course.

Amalfi's had lovely lines and always featured feminine touches.

 

I like brown shoes! Maybe because I also like chocolate! I associate brown with delicious chocolate and luxury leather goods! Amalfi’s shoes were always luxurious.

 

Alluring Amalfi's created desire in women's hearts ~ after all, what woman doesn't long for shoes, chocolate and flowers?

 

My mother found reason’s to buy them, like this pair, because it matched her auburn hair and an emerald green pair because it looked so good with her Titian hair. Of course owning and wearing beautiful shoes and handbags made her happy. She was very fastidious about her shoes and bags, selecting the exact right ones to wear each day with every suit or dress.

The soft velvety copper brown suede and smooth metallic leather are such a complimentary combination!

 

In the mid sixties my mother took a trip to Italy with her sisters and her father for the express purpose of buying shoes and purses. At least that is why the women went along. My grandfather went to study the architecture and took them with him for the experience. They dutifully toured buildings and museums for a couple of hours a day and shopped for the rest. He dutifully paid for all their purchase! Lucky girls! He joked on their return about how little energy they had for studying and how much they had for exploring the shops! He also loved fine leather good and shoes and came back with several pairs of custom made boots.  He was a great appreciator of the Italian design and craftsmanship.

Ever after that sojourn my mother referred to her auburn hair as Titian because it sounded so much more romantic and European! After they returned to the United States they could continue to enjoy aspects of Italy each day by wearing the shoes and handbags they had brought home. It cheered them up and kept them going.  My mother always said, “You should wear the best shoes you can get! It will make people treat you with respect.” My grandfather always said, “You should buy the best shoes you can because they will last a long time!” Both have proven correct in my experience!

Ugo Rangoni began his shoe company in the early 1930’s in Florance in two rooms of his house. Within a few years he had become so well known for his workmanship that he was making shoes for Christian Dior and other couture designers. In the 1950’s he invented the T~strap design like the ones shown above and it was so popular he sold over two million pairs. There were variations on the design and its adornment and colors but the basic shoe was thus.

Note: Rangoni was credited with inventing the T~strap but I think he just made his version very popular. Because I know, for a fact, that variations on the T~strap design existed in the 1920’s and 30’s and were made by other designers. It has long been a popular style for dance shoes because the straps keep the shoes on while dancing as well as flattering the foot and ankle.

I have other vintage Amalfi shoes in my collection as well as other T~strap designs from Amalfi and other designers. I also have a beautiful pair of elegant vintage Amalfi boots in the most delicious caramel color I will be sharing soon. It is rare to find vintage Amalfi’s in these charming old designs. They were notoriously comfortable and were often used until they wore out completely. As far as I can find out the alluring and delicate vintage styles of yesteryear are no longer being manufactured, thus, if you happen to come across a vintage pair and love them you should get it. They are very rare! There aren’t many left because they were loved to pieces!

The Amalfi by Rangoni company is still in production, now in a big factory in Florence. They are now known for casual and comfortable shoes still made to the highest standards of Italian workmanship, rather than the whimsical couture creations of yesteryear. They have their own shops in major cities and are sold in shoe stores all over the world as well as online. They are beautiful practical shoes of high quality and still very desirable.

Photographs by Fredric Lehrman.

Styled by Violette de Courcy.

Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

Stephane Kelian’s Contemporary Wine Suede Parisian Peep Toe Pumps Inspired by 40’s Vintage Film Heroines

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Stephane Kelian's Parisian Peep Toe Beauty!

Here is a beautiful wine suede peep toe pump by contemporary Parisian designer Stephane Kelian. Every bit as elegant as any Hollywood movie star’s shoes from the 1940’s.

Exquisite & Unusual Design & Coloring Undoubtedly Inspired by Vintage Sensibilitie!

The lining and the trim on the toes is a bronze metallic leather making an unexpected and sophisticated  combination of colors. Perfect pumps to wear with vintage or modern clothing.

Shoe Shapes Inspire Abstract Sculptural Interpretations ...

These shoes have lovely lines that accentuate the curve of the foot in the most subtle ways and beg to be photographed as art pieces and displayed as sculpture when not being worn.

Classic Profiles!

Something this lovely begs to be looked at all the time! When not being worn, I display my favorite shoes as art pieces throughout my house so I can enjoy them more often.

Conversation Pieces!

Worn or displayed as fine art people love shoes. Just seeing them, appreciating them and talking about them opens up the most interesting interactions. Beautiful shoes inspire people!

Photographs by Fredric Lehrman. Styled by Violette de Courcy. Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

Kushins by Barefoot Originals From The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

The Divine Kushins From Barefoot Originals!

This beautiful pair of late 50’s stiletto pumps is from the same period as the Arias from DeLiso Debs I posted yesterday. I wanted this one to follow the Arias so you could see the similarity in the two styles and compare the two tone treatment in the complimentary shades of brown used again here in a similar combination of leather and patent.I haven’t any records showing the exact dates either pair were produced or originally purchased, but I am confident, based on research, the names, structure, style, personal experience and exposure to other shoes from the same companies that is the late 50’s.

I love the names of some of the vintage shoe lines. This is a great example. Kushins by Barefoot Originals! The names sounds so comfortable and good for your feet!

Sleek & Elegant They Epitomized Feminine Style in The Late 50's

Do you think they were? When you see the style? Or was the name the ultimate in advertising art? They were certainly extraordinarily sexy and sleek!

Kushin’s implies extraordinary softness along the balls of the feet when wearing these! That is a stretch of the imagination!

I do wear them, but only for a couple of hours at a time. If you are going to wear super high heels, I recommend switching back and forth from high to low heels often to take pressure and stress off the balls of your feet. I am a dancer so I know! The heels on this pair are 4 and 1/4 inches high! This style of shoe is comfortable and safe to wear for short periods if you wear the right size ( usually a half size to a full size longer than you normally wear) in lower healed shoes. And if you pamper your feet in between by wearing different types of shoes. It is not healthy to put pressure on the balls of your feet day in and day out.

I am aware that I both advocate wearing high heels and warn against the pitfalls of doing so too much at the same time. I believe they are like fine chocolates – to be enjoyed in moderation! I personally find that wearing shoes of different styles and different heel heights exercises and strengthens my feet. That is another good reason to acquire many shoes of different and interesting types. Just be sure to change shoes often.

I love saying the name “Kushins by Barefoot Originals!” It is ridiculously retro and upper crust which adds to the fun of wearing the shoes! I have seen ads for Barefoot Originals in old magazines advocating the Town & Country lifestyle. The model is always wearing a pencil skirt, a cashmere sweater and a fur trimmed coat with gloves while carrying a gorgeous ladylike frame handbag. The exact same look works equally well today! And it conjures up images of the same fantasy lifestyle, even if you have put the entire look together out of brilliant vintage finds for a $100 – $150 which is quite possible to achieve. (Yes, I am writing this in 2011!)

They called this color of leather caramel, and the color of the patent leather butterscotch. Yummy! Another reason why I find vintage brown shoes anything but plain and absolutely delicious! Note how shiny the patent leather has remained! No wonder it was coveted back in the day! It is real leather and it has lasted in perfect like new condition with much use from both the original owner and me.

I have written previously that my vintage shoes are used shoes and are old and that I began collecting shoes in order to wear them. Thus I am showing them with all their signs of use and age and imperfections purposely in my photographs. In many cases I have had to do considerable restoration to extend the lives of the shoes or bring them back to life. I will point that out in some cases so you will know what has been done. These needed new heel tips and a good cleaning. Good shoemakers are delighted to get a chance to work on these elegant old shoes in my experience. They are wowed by the design and the craftsmanship.

It is well worth the investment to restore and maintain such shoes either to wear yourself or to have as works of art and examples of quality style and workmanship in a previous time.

Photos are by Fredric Lehrman & are styled by Violette de Courcy. The Kushins by Barefoot Originals are from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

 

You Can See The Famous Name Kushins in Luxurious Gold Script on the Insole.

 

 

The Beautifully Engineered Heel ~ Very Thin & Highly Stable

Elegant DeLiso Debs Aria Pumps From the Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

DeLiso Debs Arias

Beautiful! Practical! And comfortable!  These sophisticated bronze leather pumps tipped in shining dark chocolate brown patent were designed by Palter DeLiso in the late 1950’s.

These are one of my absolute favorites! I love the way they look and I love to wear them! Sexy and elegant, they also feel great on which is the best part of all.

Note the Labels Inscribed in Gold on the Insoles: Custom Lasted with a little gold hammer on the Right Shoe and Nordstrom's Shoes Seattle and Portland on the Left Shoe

 

This pair was custom made for Nordstrom. Inside the right shoe is a little golden hammer and the words “custom lasted.” Inside the left shoe the insole is labeled Nordstrom’s Shoes Portland – Seattle. Many shoes of that era were made to order for upper class stores which carried their own exclusive styles by particular designers.

The Pure Sculptural Elegance of Palter DeLiso Shoes

This is a great example of a brown shoe that is very glamorous. It can be worn with many colors and looks lovely with nude or dark hose. Because of the dark toe tip it is smashing worn with black in the fall and winter in the sophisticated color combination of black and brown which is seen often in Italy but seldom in the United States.

Beautiful Sensual Line and Design

The entire shoe is crafted of leather and is hand made. The inside is lined in light beige leather and the inner heel is lined in an even lighter suede to help the heel cling to your foot when wearing nylons rather than slip and slide. I find the use of beige lining so considerate of this designer because the lighter lining color does not stain your light colored stockings.

DeLiso Deb's Arias Pumps Stand Alone as a Work of Art

This pair of DeLiso Debs Arias is gorgeous with all colors of tweed suits and winter woolen coats! By themselves they are a work of art and I enjoy just looking at them.

Photos by Fredric Lehrman, styled by Violette de Courcy.

This pair of DeLiso Debs Aria Pumps are from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Blue Sneaker Influenced Stiletto Pumps Designed by GFJ From Italy

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Stiletto Sneaker Pump by GFJ of Italy

Here is a wicked find! An unusual combination between a stiletto pump and a sneaker make in Italy by GFJ out of blue leather and a combination of interesting man made materials. Very high style! This shoe isn’t terribly old, but I have no information on the date it was made – yet. (I am hoping someone reading this will  be able to provide me with more information.)

I rescued this lovely pair from a thrift store! I have seen one other pair of shoes similar to this made by this company. It was done in black leather as a stiletto mule with white stitching in a similar vamp style. I have also seen an elegant cream mule in a completely different style under the same label. I have searched the web for more information on GFJ to no avail. Whoever it is she or he are definitely talented shoe designers and I would love to know more about them and where one could find more of their work.

Tres Sportif Details on the Blue GFJ Stilettos

I love the way this designer has combined the elements of sport shoes with the elements of classic stilettos – the stripes on the sides, the light colored top stitching, the man made beige material – probably nylon – used on the sides of the shoes and the corrugated rubber soles with the stacked leather heels, lines of an elegant  1950’s pump, dainty straps and small buckle trim, and the beautiful blue color! It is copen blue which is a rare shade nowadays but was quite popular in the 1950’s. It reminds me of the 50’s for that reason but also seems well suited to the sporty exercise clothes currently in style.  They look good with both capri pants and short skirts. And I like to wear them with a 3/4 length blue and white flower printed retro trench coat.

Beautiful Copen Blue Coloring Borrowed From the 1950's

These appeal to me for spring and summer casual dress up wear. They are well made in Italy of the blue leather, with a leather lining and a suede lined heel, and the stacked leather heel as well which is real, not an imitation. The man made materials are used as creative design elements in this case rather than cost cutting materials.

Delightfully different and fun to wear! I get a lot of interesting comments and questions on this unusual pair!

If you know more about the GJF company or their designers I’d like you to share the information with me. I’ve not been able to find anymore info on them.

 

This pair of shoes was inspiring and fun to photograph. They cooperated! They have attitude, obviously! And shoes with attitude love to showoff!

The photos are by Fredric Lehrman styled by Violette de Courcy.

The Designer Even Achieved the Cute Turned Up Toe of a 50's Stiletto to Perfection!

 

The Lady Violette Shoe Collection ~ Documentation and Photography In Progress & a Sampling of What Lies Ahead

Friday, August 12th, 2011

A Taste for High Style Shoes! Banana Yellow Alligator Embossed Leather Stiletto Pumps Designed by Stuart Weitzman photographed & styled by Fredric Lehrman & Violette de Courcy

I have been collecting vintage and other interesting artistic shoes for a long time. Suddenly this summer many people became interested in my shoe collection. I had displayed bits of it in the past ~ like 20 pieces by a particular designer as an example ~ but never the entire collection. In fact I do not even know how many total pairs I have! I have been collecting for years, have moved a couple of times, have many carefully packed up in archival wrappings and boxes and have lost count of the number I have accumulated. I have an interesting array with fine examples from many classic designers.

I know I have over 1,000 pairs. Honestly, they don’t take up that much room when they are packed away. Unpacked and stacked about to be sorted out and photographed is another matter! There have been shoes everywhere this summer for over a month! I am wishing I were not living and working in the same space, but that isn’t an option!

Examples From Over a Thousand Pairs of Vintage Shoes Comprising The Lady Violette Shoe Collection Now Being Photographed and Documented

So, the time in my shoe collecting has finally come, to photograph them all, post many of them on my blog with descriptions and as much information as can be found about them and the designers and craftsmen who made them. Documenting a collection of this size is a daunting job! I know because I have now begun!

I was contacted a little over a month ago by an institution interested in using about 300 pairs of my vintage shoes and 50 of my vintage handbags for a project. This required unpacking and choosing many examples from the collection, then photographing them, first in a rather quick way, so that choices of which ones to use could be made, then photographing them more professionally. It turned out to be a really big job!  One that took over my entire living and working space for weeks! As well as the majority of my time. Actually, it turned out being a complete nightmare! After a month of planning and emailing and co-ordinating the requesting party postponed their project indefinitely for what they termed “internal reasons.”  This was inconvenient, but not all bad. Because the documentation and sorting process had been jump started and having gotten so far into it there were only two choices: continue or abandon the project I had finally undertaken partway through.

Of course I decided to continue it on my own. I had learned through this process that the only way I can really do anything of this sort with it in the future, or even share it through my blog online, is to document the entire collection thoroughly and properly so that other interested people can see what I have. It will obviously be much easier for me to do so if I already have the entire collection photographed and inventoried. Then I will be able to send people directly to my blog to access my shoes and bags in whatever way I have chosen to display them and I won’t be in the kind of frenzy that had ensued dealing with the party above.

Fortunately I also have a friend, Fredric Lehrman, who is willing to help with some of the photography, but I had to move on this while he was available to assist. Thus we have been overwhelmingly busy with this for the last few weeks. So much so that it has eaten heavily into my blogging time which I feel badly about!

Yesterday we finished up with three solid weeks of day in and day out shoe photography. Unfortunately we were only able to scratch the surface of documenting the entire collection so far. We are photographing my vintage handbag collection as well for the same purpose. It is only about a third the size of the shoe collection, but is still substantial. We switched back and forth between shoes and purses to prevent boredom. My house become a photo studio with photo equipment and piles of shoes and purses absolutely everywhere! It is an interesting but challenging undertaking!

Yesterday I sent the photographer home with his pro studio’s worth of lights, seamless papers, rolls, cameras, tripods, ladders and other equipment which had taken over my living room, dining room and kitchen for weeks!  I am on the road to putting away about 300 pairs of shoes and cleaning up some. Then regrouping and beginning to post and write about the now photographed items in the collection. Wow! This is intense!

A Pair of Banana Yellow Alligator Embossed Leather Stiletto Pumps Designed by Stuart Weitzman

I must express much thanks to Fredric Lehrman for his patience and days and days of work bringing photographic equipment to my house and setting it up and taking thousands of pictures. All for his love of shoes! Amazing! It was fun for me to work with a professional photographer, get his input, and to be honest, get help with a project of this magnitude! Sometimes we experimented together with wild ideas like photographing fruit with shoes and got spectacular results which I will post for you to see! I think we were both tired and hungry when we came up with that one, but it was well worth the deviation from our main course! Something we both realized we would not have been allowed to experiment with had we been under the strict direction of the previously mentioned project photo editor! Thank you Fredric! For doing this and for being creative and open minded. I got tired and hungry but I had a good time!

I know a lot of collectors of all kinds of things and I know that most of them have not done anything like this with their collections. This part is the work! Not the fun! The fun is hunting down the stuff, finding something truly amazing and acquiring it. I also enjoy restoring and refurbishing things if need be and, finally, wearing it if the shoe fits!

Just doing this portion of the project we have learned a lot! Every pair of shoes is different. Some are very photogenic, some are downright unphotogenic and some fall in the middle. Often a shoe that is very attractive in person is hard to capture in any attractive way through a photograph. Each had to be accessed individually and experimented with. Some had to be reshot the next day. I decided to stop shooting for now and sort out what we’ve done, write about some of them for a while, see what I am getting into and what changes might need to be made. This is one of those learn as you do experiences! Life seems to be full of those!

My goals are different than other shoe photography I often see. I want to show the styles of the shoes, but I also want to show the character, to photograph them as art objects, sculptures when applicable, capture their moods and sometimes show how they have been loved and worn, or saved carefully, or enjoyed through use. Many of the shoes in my collection are worn ~ have been used. They are, after all, often used shoes, mostly vintage shoes, and most often not brand new ones. They are almost always old. some have never been worn and were meticulously saved, while some have been restored for use and given new lives. All in all they are now in fabulous condition considering their age. It is work but it is also a real pleasure to get them all out and analyze them like this again.

I’ve never looked at this collection en mass before. I acquired them bit by bit, over about 2 and a half decades and put them away as I did so. This is the first time I will have gone through all of them! It is an amazing experience which I hope to share to some extent with those who read my blog. Interestingly, I realized recently that this was a possibility that did not exist when I began to rescue, collect, restore and save the shoes! If it had I would have been working on this gradually all along instead of saving up the work for such a giant blitz! I feel bad that I have to do it all at once since it is such a huge job, but I feel good that at last there is such a thing as the internet now to share it on!

More Pairs of Vintage Shoes Just Waiting Their Turn to be Photographed for The Lady Violette Shoe Collection Blog Posts ~ Photo by Violette ce Courcy

Originally I collected shoes only in my own size ( that is 7.5 Med.) that I could also wear. I had to limit myself somehow as I do not have endless storage! Sometimes I would find a fabulous design in a shoe from, say, the 1940’s or 50’s and I would have to resole it or almost completely redo the uppers to rescue the fabulous design for myself to wear. I want to show how I have done this and discuss it so that other people can see how it is done and hopefully save some fabulous old shoes for themselves if they find them. (Or, if they don’t want them, send them on to me to add to this collection.)  Some of my most beautiful shoes now looked quite terrible when I first discovered them.

This collection is about shoes as wearable and enjoyable art. It is about good and spectacular design – some examples are originally very expensive, some not so, but all are special in my personal opinion as examples of interesting shoes. It is a unique collection. Through this experience I have learned that there are other large shoe collections in the world, but not another that includes this exact combination of particular shoes! Everyone with a serious shoe collection has something very different from that of the last serious shoe collector or the next. It is a fascinating subject. I began, for instance, to collect shoes I could actually wear and would eliminate shoes that were not my size or were uncomfortable. I have found that there are men who have accumulated large collections of women’s shoes with different criterion. There are some of these whose collections are spectacular to look at but essentially unwearable. What would they know? After all they cannot possibly wear them to try them out!  As collectors we come at our collecting from our individual desires and perspectives. Collecting beautifully designed and constructed shoes is all about desire.

My collection, The Lady Violette Shoe Collection, is meant to be enjoyed for its beauty and practical utilitarian shoe design as well. Some shoes are colorful and ornate. Some are simple and unique.  Many are extraordinarily elegant. In exploring this documentation process we learned that many books and calenders and photo exhibits of shoes are done in brilliant colors to show garishly bright and ornately decorated shoes against white backgrounds. Such shoes are showiest and easiest to photograph. Brightly colored shoes however, do not always accurately document the actual shoes real people found most elegant or most wearable during certain fashion or historical time periods. In contrast to what is often chosen to photo document and publish in the the majority of illustrated shoe collections the majority of shoes actually made, used and enjoyed as real functional shoes have almost always been black as the first choice and brown as the second. The reasons for this are, of course, that the black shoes almost always make the foot and leg look its best, go best with most clothing, are easily the most wearable and practical and are actually often the most flattering and attractive. Black and brown leathers are most common and most popular as well. Historically brown shoes followed black in terms of numbers produced and in popularity.

Black Suede Classic Beauties From Stuart Weitzman

The Lady Violette Shoe Collection just naturally evolved for this very reason with the greatest numbers of black shoes, followed by brown shoes in the second greatest number, then eased into all kinds of other pretty and interesting dramatic colors. I love them all! But many of the black ones remain the most supremely elegant, flattering and exotic. And the brown ones are often the most luxuriant in alligator, snakeskin,cork, furs and other rare natural materials. Thus I want to feature the blacks and browns for their exquisite design features and extraordinarily wearability as well as all the other shoes in the dramatic colorations and combinations I have found. I am willing to experiment to find ways to present the black and brown shoes properly in interesting photos rather than omit them in favor of only brightly colored ones. That said, I hope to be able to give all the colors including black and brown equal exposure.

Documenting The Lady Violette Shoe Collection and choosing which shoes to photograph, and deciding how to style and present them myself looks like it will turn out to be the best way to present and share it with other people. Doing it myself and therefore being in control of the process I can experiment or take off in new directions without having to be restricted by other people’s formats, deadlines, or budgets limiting me! One example I discovered was that few if any other photographers utilized the designer’s labels or signatures on the inside lining of the shoes! The signatures are often beautiful and not only credit and designate the designer of the shoe, but can help identify the time in a designer’s career the shoe was created, or what store it was made for, or whether or not it was a collaboration between a clothing and a shoe designer for a particular collection. All of this detail and information is of great interest to fashion and shoe historians as well as regular people who are just interested in shoes. We spent half a day photographing several designer shoe labels as an experiment and the results are really interesting. Now we are going to try to do it on every pair.

Almost everyone seems to be interested in shoes! During the last month I have mentioned my shoe collection and what I am doing documenting it now to my girl friends, my grocer, my gardener, the couple who own a local wine and chocolate shop, my hat designer friend (who is asking me to document her hats next!), even my son’s friends, and everyone is interested in seeing the shoes. They all sigh and pause for a moment, then say, “Oh, you must show me, I love shoes!” Who would have known? Making my collection accessible to other people will be interesting and fun I am sure! All kinds of people I would not have expected to be intrigued by shoes will undoubtedly come forward and tell me they, too, love shoes as the works of art they are!

Photo credits Fredric Lehrman with styling by Violette de Courcy unless otherwise noted.

An Unusual Pair of Fairy Shoes

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

A Pair of Unique and Unusual Fairy Shoes

I am always on the lookout for interesting and unusual shoes to add to and fill out my Lady Violette Shoe Collection. The collection is always growing and expanding to include more and more interesting examples.

I recently came upon this unique pair (in a park near my house no less!) which must have been abandoned by a fairy who chose to kick up her heels barefoot while dancing in a fairy ring in summer grass scattered with tiny daisies. We were only able to get one picture and I want to post it before it mysteriously vanishes, which it well might, as I have taken others which somehow slipped away! This particular one was taken by a professional fairy photographer – a friend of mine who has traveled all over Scotland and Wales with a fairy expert searching out and shooting evidence of fairies in their natural habitats.

These slippers are made by Irregular Choice (signed inside in gold!) of a pale green suede decorated in what looks like an etched design of whimsical leaves, butterflies, abstract stripes and dew drops in metallic purple light. The toes turn up as they do on all elf and fairy shoes of my experience. A ruffled tuft topped with a string bow, made of the same suede material as the rest of the shoes, adorns the vamp. Inside the shoe is also heavily decorated. It is lined in turquoise leather which is painted with fairy court swirls and flourishes in purple, lavender and white. Well made, the inner heels are lined in lighter aqua suede so they will hug a fairy’s feet as she races through woods and over fields. The insole is cut out with special zig zag fairy scissors, then punched with tiny decorative holes to create additional pleasing design elements along it’s edges – all inside where only the owning fairy can see it before she puts on her magical shoes! Perhaps as a way to code these as the property of the specific fairy owner of this particular pair of ethereal dancing slippers?

The heels are low and quaint – all in all an odd design – not human – but perhaps borrowing elements of shoe design from humans? Or the other way around? Perhaps human’s have borrowed some elements of shoe design from fairies? Hard to say! I think the fairy expert will have to be consulted! But the heels are charming and remind me of the ones on French court shoes in the 1700s.

We will send this post off to our Fairy Expert contact immediately to find out what she thinks, then post her responding comments (and her credentials!) here for you to see.

The photographer who took this particular picture of this slippery pair of fairy slippers is Fredric Lehrman. (Thank you Fredric!)

When I first tried to photograph these shoes my camera crashed off my tripod and broke into a mass of shattered pieces! It became truly inoperable! A definite inconvenience as I have had to find another and learn to operate it, etc. It took Fredric several tries to get a picture of them too because they didn’t co-operate with him the first time around either! These little shoes have a mind of their own! Or perhaps there is a spell on them?

The bottoms are printed in a colorful floral design in pink, blue and red – kind of an Arts and Craft style floral pattern. They are stamped 38 on the bottom – the fairy size I presume. We will try to get a picture of that to show you later! ( If they allow it!) The soles are flexible – so good for dancing in – and the width is medium, not terribly narrow. Fairies like their shoes to be comfortable. They like them to feel like bare feet.

Fairies only wear shoes for decorative purposes to enhance their costumes for special festivities and occasions as you probably  know. They normally go bare foot and hate wearing shoes because they inhibit their movement. This may explain why this pair, though very pretty, were kicked off and carelessly abandoned. The owner probably got carried away with her mood and fairy music, found them inhibiting, and took off to other realms where she could move more freely without them. Fairies don’t normally touch down on concrete so don’t need the protection we humans do when walking on it.

It turns out that Irregular Choice is a shoe and accessories design company located in the UK. They make lovely whimsical shoes out of leather and fabrics and all manner of imaginative designs and decorations. The shoes are very well made. I have not been able to find out when this pair was produced or what they called it but have written to the company with the photo to try to find out. Their shoes retail for between about $145 and $200 at this time.