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Lady Violette

The Romantic Lifestyle

Posts Tagged ‘The Lady Violette Shoe Collection’

Safe, Sound, Stable & Elegant Purple Hiking Boots! A Search by Lady Violette de Courcy

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

I am now determined to find a very stable ankle high hiking boot for walking and hiking safely for exercise without the risk of twisting my ankle on a small piece of gravel and turning my ankle as I did with my notoriously unstable Dansko clogs. Note, I did not injure my ankle, I injured my right wrist when I intuitively reached out to catch myself as I  fell. While recovering from my broken wrist/arm I have time to look for some options. Thank God for the Internet! I can research this from home while recovering. I had surgery yesterday for a compound fracture and now have steel plates and pins in my wrist and arm. I  want a safe and stable ankle high boot to run around in this winter! Here are a couple I have found so far! (It has to be beautiful & stylish too, and purple if possible!)

Women's Adirondack Boot II

Here is one. The Adirondack Boot II in Blackberry Wine! By UGG. I found this one online.


Women's Ahnu Montara Boot

Here is another: The Ahnu Montara Boot which I found in REI in Seattle.

A Friend took me to REI to see what might be available. The sales people said nothing, but I  looked upward and saw this boot gleaming on the highest shelf and saying, “Lady Violette, try me. And, Lady Violette, buy me, for I am perfect for you & I will not let you (fall) down! Please try me!”

It was impossible to resist that! So we got them down to take a look and try them on. They felt good. Even able to use only one hand (which will be a problem for me for weeks while I am heeling from this break and surgery,) I was able to get into them quite easily. The high tops are soft and pliable while also supporting the ankles firmly ~ something my Physical Therapist in London was recommending. The soles of these shoes are considerably wider than the upper on the heel and the front part of the shoe which creates a strong stable base to stand on. They were one and a half inches wider than the street shoe style ankle boots I worn into the store! They are also fairly light weight for a hiking boot which is something I need because my ankles are hyper mobile and very heavy shoes and boots actually pull on my tendons and ligaments and stretch my ankles out even more which could make them even looser and more prone to twisting over time.

I am looking for the boots to use on walks in the city or wear on easy to medium grade hikes. And to support my ankles in exactly the kind of situation in which I got hurt this weekend so this wont happen again!

I have excellent heavy duty strong high hiking boots for rough terrain already. They are great for use in the mountains, but are too hard, too high, and too difficult to lace and tie in my current injured situation. They have steel toes, are made of very strong hard leather, have tough leather laces and lots of grommets that require a lot of pulling and strength to tighten, wrap ’round the ankles and tie securely. They are heavy duty to say the least! I need a softer gentler more ladylike boot in my current situation.

I noted that these boots are a soft gray lavender purple, like the lavender plants flowers! The color of purple that bumble bees like! It is a water proofed soft suede upper surrounded by waterproof oiled leather along the sole. The shoe is designed for breathe ability and to have excellent traction.

No one said anything in the shoes or the literature on them about their color combination, but I noticed that it is the soft lavender, soft black, gray and accents of yellow ~ the exact favorite colors of bumble bees and why they are attracted to lavender plants and flowers! When studying up on what flowers and plants to put in my garden, to attract the most bees, butterflies and birds, I learned that lavender ones were naturally the most favored flowers of all by these little creatures! This is because purple flowers produce the best honey! I noticed this right away about these shoes and it made me like them! In the same way a bee might! This instinctively seemed like a good sign too!

I did a search for one handed methods of shoe lacing and tying online and found several tutorials which I tried with success, although they will require practice to become really efficient.

This boot is soft and comfortable around the heel and ankle and the heels are really snug and narrow on my feet which is unusual to find and a real plus as I often have trouble with heels of sportif shoes being too wide and slipping up and down with every step making my socks slip down and bunch up around my heels. The soles are Vibram which provides extreme durability and traction and is well known for its safety and stability ~ features that I really need right now!

This seems to be the Cinderella’s slipper of hiking boots! It seems to be made for a lady, particularly Lady Violette de Courcy ~ from its color through its lightweight construction through its design elements! The fact that it is royal purple in color is its crowning glory! There are very few purple hiking boots on the market! In fact you are looking at the only two pairs of good quality that I could find online!

The bee has always been a symbol of French royalty as well! Thus, the subtle color references to the bee ~ the black, the yellow, the dark gray and the lavender of the bee’s favorite flower are another subtle and distinctive plus! These hiking boots seem to be made for HRH Lady Violette de Courcy.

The fact that this shoe is purple is an added bonus, because all its other features are also exactly what I need and want in my current circumstances! The color is like the lavender flower in nature attracting the bee to the source of honey so they can find what they need to survive. The purple color acted as a lure to draw me to this particular boot, to make me look it over and realize all its other positive characteristics!

I brought the Ahnu Montara boots home to try out in the house ~ REI allows you to return merchandise if it doesn’t please you completely after you try it out at home. Putting them on and learning to lace and tie them one~handed is a good thing to practice while stuck at home over the next few days! And I will be able to test them out for stability and comfort over true in~house terrain ~ carpets, hardwood floors, stairs, linoleum, etc. This will be a real life in~castle use test ~ thus a good hard and realistic analysis of this boot! If they pass muster I will wear them outside walking on the cement pathways, sidewalks and streets and into my hand surgeon check back and hand therapy appointments on Friday! I am really hoping they work out! I love their look for a casual hiking and walking boot.

By the way, the hand therapists asked me if I wanted a black or a white splint which I get to wear after 10 days! (I am in a white one after leaving the surgery clinic!) I chose black because it seems so much more streamlined and elegant.

There are still a few fashion and style choices you can make during hand/arm surgery and recovery! I can picture myself wearing all black, including my black splint and arm wrap which you make out of your own dark colored tights or socks by cutting them. Wearing all black I think I can accent my look with my purple Ahnu Montara boots, and a scarf with a purple print tied up for use as an arm splint as Grace Kelly did when she broke her arm! I tried a few methods of splinting over the last few days. I’ll report on that soon!

I also just happen to already have an REI sun protective hiking shirt in the exact same shade of purple cotton as the boots! They go perfectly together! And it looks great with black. Yet another sign these boots were meant for me, isn’t it? And I can get my ring with a purple amethyst stone onto my left hand for a bit of a jewelry accent! It has been a noticeable drag not to be able to wear jewelry over the last few days! You aren’t allowed to wear any metal during any Xrays or while in the hospital. And, of course, no perfumes, lotions, cosmetics or haircare products. I  normally do wear them automatically without really thinking about the fact that I am doing so! I am programmed from years of being glamorous!

This is an amusing and amazing tidbit though! I had given myself a manicure with Butter of London’s bright purple polish called HRH right before I broke my wrist! The doctor liked it and wanted me to leave it on! She marked my wrist for the surgery with a purple pen to match! I had a woman doctor! Male surgeons have always required me to remove my nail polish! “So we can see your circulation in your fingernails.” they said! This doctor, and her nurses, said that it was not necessary to remove nail polish and they can see your circulation through the sides and tips of your fingers. And she said, ” Why ruin a good manicure just because you are having surgery if you don’t really need to?” So I got to leave my Butter of London HRH bright purple nail polish on and it really did cheer me up throughout this dismal process of wrist and arm surgery! Amazingly the polish is still perfect on the right hand! There is not even a chip! I’ve had to use the left hand a bit more and it is barely starting to wear and chip off, but I am amazed at the durability of this polish given the circumstances it has been through! Do they even have rating systems for polish in situations like these? Once again I am convinced that Butter of London ‘s HRH bright purple is my personal signature nail polish color!



An Amazing New Suburban Shoe Shopping Opportunity ~ DSW ~ A Designer Shoe Warehouse Has Opened in Lynnwood, Washington

Friday, September 16th, 2011

A few days ago a new DSW  store opened near my house! I currently live north of Seattle Washington in a suburb called Lynnwood. It is near a mall called Alderwood Shopping Mall which features a Nordstrom and a Macy’s. There is a Nordstrom Rack just outside the mall on a side street. Across the street is a large Barnes and Noble Store with a Starbuck’s Cafe in it. Next to the Barns and Noble in a gigantic Ulta beauty supply and makeup store and a beauty salon. All of these shopping establishments feature copious amounts of free parking in gigantic lots which surround the businesses. Free parking is important. It is conducive to shopping and browsing: going out to lunch, having your hair done, meeting your friends in a leisurely manner. Without free parking you have to worry about running up a huge parking fee or getting a parking ticket. With that in the back of your mind it is hard to hang out and look for ways to spend money! Retailers know this. Of course!

About a year ago large several businesses around us closed down. One was a huge Linens and Things Store. That space was directly across the street from the Nordstrom Rack. The Rack, as people around here call it, is famous for its discounted designer shoes. Only problem is they are always trashed by the time they make it to The Rack! I have never bought a pair of shoes at The Rack because they are always scratched and damaged beyond recognition and that is not a bargain to me! I want my new shoes to be in good condition and my vintage shoes to be in beautiful shape! I take very good care of my shoes. Damaged shoes and clothes are not a bargain in my opinion.

Well, I was in the Alderwood Mall and a woman admired the shoes I was wearing. She asked where I got them. They were Alligator shoes from the 1940’s that I bought about 20 years ago in NYC. After I told her that story she asked if I had been to the new DSW. I said no. She advised me to check it out immediately, so, accordingly, I stopped by on my way home.

The Immense DSW in Lynnwood WA

Check it out! It is huge. And they carry all the name brands that Macy’s and Nordstrom’s carry in the suburban stores. The only difference is that they do not carry only two or three styles of each and one or two colors. They carry every color and every style offered by any given line and they carry it in every size. And they are all in stock right there today, now. The inventory is huge and vast and amazing. The shoes are neatly packed in their boxes under the displays. Everything is well lit and well organized. It is genius, actually. The staff is very nice and available.  It is semi self serve. You walk around, find the shoes you like and pull out the box to try them on. This is great as you do not have to wait for help. but the help is there if you want or need it.

Prices are great. They are discounted way be;ow Macy’s and Nordstrom’s in every case. The percentage of discount differs from shoe to shoe but it is really substantial – due to DSW’s massive buying power I am sure! For example a pair of Nine West shoes I had just seen at Nordstrom for $79 was $59 – the same shoe in the same color. Also available in 4 more colors that Nordstrom didn’t offer!

I had tried to try it on at Nordstrom, but they didn’t have my size in stock. They had called 4 of their stores in the area and looked on the computer. No Nordstrom stores in the state had it. I had paid for it to be shipped to me from another state in my size. Four days later I received an email and a call from the Nordstrom store telling me they could not get it! Even though they had said they could and had made me pay for it already. This has happened to me twice now and I am very tired of it! Nordstrom doesn’t carry enough stock. They won’t transfer items into the store for you to pick up. (They used to do this. No more!) They insist that you pay for them first, promising you it is available. You go home, wait for it, then four days later receive a call and an email saying your order has been cancelled and the item is not available any longer. They pretend it was so popular it is all sold out. The actuality is that they had not ordered enough of it and it is nowhere to be had. This means all the time you spent looking for the item, and coordinating it with your wardrobe was wasted. In the two cases in which this happened to me I also had to return the other items I had shopped for and bought to go with it. This takes up a huge amount of time and is extremely frustrating! It is terrible service. It is no wonder customer’s are fed up!

I am! I am finished with shopping at Nordstrom forever! I find the customer service dreadful. Just today, however, only a week after the above experience, I went back because I needed an item from the cosmetics department. I bought several things. When I got home I emptied the bag to look at my purchase and something major – the blush I had gone there to buy – was missing! The absent minded saleslady had not put it in the bag! This means that I will have to return to the store to get it! She was waiting on several people at once! I called the store, got them to put one aside with my name on it. They apologized. The problem is, I am missing the blush, I cannot do my makeup until I go back and I have to make another trip to the **** store to get this straightened out! This will eat up a big chunk of my time! I do not like it! It is amateur! I do not have time for it!I am busy. I have a lot of other things to do.

Back to DSW. Theoretically, I can drive up to it, park, enter the store, stroll down the aisle until I find the shoes I want, quickly help myself to my size, check out and pay and drive away. I think it is brilliant! I love the immense selection and style availability. They tell me it will be growing every day! We shall see!

The store is vast. It is divided into logical sections. Boots in the center, 3,ooo styles of women’s boots to select from! High heels in two long rows, then flats, then sandals. Sports shoes in another few rows. Handbags in another area. Then a huge wall of tights and stockings. Zillions more styles, colors and sizes than Nordtroms or Macy’s offer.

The great thing is that once you have figured out how to shop there you can get the thing you came in for very efficiently and get out of the store. This is good. I will be using the place.

They have a great selection of vegan handbags from many good designers. Same with shoes. Many people will be really happy about that! I have seen only one or two options elsewhere in the Seattle area.

The only thing I didn’t see there was the very high end shoes carried downtown and in Bellevue in the designer boutique sections of Nordstrom. This would be names such as Prada, Chanel, Yves St. Laurent, etc.I suspect that Nordstorms has exclusives for these lines in this area of the country.

DSW does carry Marc by Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Jiimmy Choo, Ralph Lauren, Via Spiga, Cole Haan, Frye, Joan and David, Matisse, Steve Madden, Franco Sarto, Ann Klein, Softt, Dansko, Seychelles, Ellen Tracy, Bandelino, and a zillions other very nice brands. I will check out what they carry and report on that more extensively in the near future. I did not have enough time to do a comprehensive study of the brands they carry. It looked, at my initial quick glance, like they carry full lines of bridge and better quality shoes and moderately priced shoes. The quality level is very high. The merchandise is current styles, not old out of date styles. The styles, size ranges and color selection are really extensive. So extensive that it will take you time to find what you want when you go there to buy! Be prepared to have a lot to choose from! You will be able to find options you like and want! I saw several I really liked. I will have to go back when I have a bit more time!

I think this new store is going to be very successful and very exciting. I think it will kick Nordtrom and The Rack and Macy’s where they need it!

I, for one, am going to enjoy driving over there, parking free, getting a coffee at Starbucks, and wandering the aisles till I find just the right pair of boots I need for a particular outfit! With 3,000 pairs to choose from in my size I am sure I can find several that will be acceptable!

I am sure The Lady Violette Shoe Collection and The Lady Violette Handbag Collection will acquire a few contemporary additions where they are needed from the DSW!

Contemporary Red Carpet Worthy Red Patent Modern Ultra High Heels ~ Circa 2011~ From the Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Sky High Contemporary Red Patent Leather Pumps From White House/ Black Market ~ Circa 2011

I have learned through experience that I can often find unusual and exotic things that I want by thinking consciously about them ~ sending a certain kind of energy out into the world to locate them and draw them toward me. When I do this I eventually find these rare and interesting items I want. That is how I found this pair of red patent pumps. I began thinking about such a pair of shoes about a month ago when I decided to write about the red shoes in my personal ballet dancer’s collection! I had a lot of red vintage shoes. I didn’t have an example of one of the latest styles ~ the sky high red patent high heel platforms that have been so popular on the red carpet of late. I would need to get one!

Beautiful Sleek Modern Lines

I’m an artist, working on a tight budget, too. Of late I am photographing and writing a lot and designing a line of clothing. I do not have the budget to go out and buy a $795 pair of shoes. In fact, I am even staying out of both regular shops and thrift stores so that I don’t find goodies I feel I must have to expand my collections! I haven’t been in a TS for a month! (TS is thrift store.) I have however, been cleaning out my closets to free up space and making donations to thrift stores and charity groups. I am very proud of the fact that I have been donating five to seven shopping bags full of clothes and household items to charity organizations every week this summer. I am trying hard to do my part to recycle things I am no longer using. I also want to free up my space. It is easy to fill up your house with too many things. I made a rule for myself, for every bag of new stuff I bring into the house, a bag of equal size must be taken out of the house, in order to maintain a balance of stuff.

In Profile ~ These Are Perfect For The Red Carpet!

This summer I have also taken a load of appropriate upscale newer designer items to a nice Seattle consignment shop where I hope to sell them and I have put about 60 choice vintage items up for sale on my Etsy store Ladyviolettedecourcy and another 25 on my Bonanza store Ladyviolettedecourcy. The rules of what you can put up for sale are different for each store.  For example: In the consignment shop nothing can be more than 2 years old! On Etsy everything vintage has to be at least 20 years old. On Bonanza you can sell anything of any age providing the quality is high. Doing all this is a lot of hard work! You have to take the pictures, write good descriptions, post everything on the computers then follow up on questions and responses from potential buyers every single day!  When you finally get a sale you have to box and wrap it and ship it off to the buyer. If international buyers are interested in an item you have to go to the PO or UPS offices to get accurate packing, shipping and insurance rates. Every case is different, because every item is a different shape, size and weight and every buyer lives in a different country and has unique requirements. I have also sold several things on eBay over the last few years! I had no idea until I did it myself that it would be as hard as it is to sell things online! It is hard work!

So far I feel I have mostly done set up! I have also been writing and posting on my blog every day. This has been going on for four months. Sales are sporadic. Everyone on Etsy, Bonanza and eBay says that. The economy is in a slump and this is what everyone I know who is selling says is happening. I have to be philosophical about it. Therefore, I have just decided to continue to plod along ( and blog along!) and keep posting things to my blog and putting items on my store sites! I am very happy with the amount of response of a positive nature I am getting to my photographs and descriptive writing on a daily basis. It is encouraging to know that intelligent people with good taste like it. I like hearing from them even if they cannot afford to buy something right now. The interaction is valuable in its own way! The people participating on these sites are the most interesting thing about them! And ultimately that is more interesting than making sales, but, it would also be very nice to be selling briskly!

Last week, when I took my clothes to the consignment shop I had to wait while the owner looked through them and made her selection. So I walked around the store looking at the other items she had for sale. In the back of the store, on the floor, by a full length mirror, I caught sight of these beautiful shining red patent pumps. I edged closer! They looked as if they might just be my size! I couldn’t resist. I had to pick one up and check out the size! The bottom was marked 8B! I wear a 7.5B usually, but 8 was close enough. I stepped out of my shoes and tried them on. Of course they fit quite nicely. The super high heels allow me to go up a half size! So I had to check out the price. It was $49. They were unworn. They still had the original price sticker on them for $99.99.

I carried the shiny red shoes up to the front desk with me as I went back to see what the owner was selecting from the items I had brought in to consign. She was taking almost all of them. There were about 20 items which is the limit on what they will look at in one day. She saw the red shoes. She said, “I just got those in.” I said, :”I think I want them, But what are you going to take here?”  She told me she would take all but three items which duplicated items she already had. She said she would consign them through November. After that I can choose to pick up things that don’t sell or donate them to The Children’s Orthopedic Hospital. I opted for the later. She said, “The stuff is nice and I know I can sell most of it. Do you want cash or store credit on the items that sell? ” You get more if you take store credit so I chose that.

I know the owner of this store very well. I consign and shop there regularly. She then said, “Do you want the red shoes?” I said, “Well, that depends, on how I can arrange to pay for them. I am trying not to spend money. ” She said, “How about $9.99 cash and I’ll take the balance in credit off the things you will undoubtedly sell that you brought in today?” I said , ” Okay! That sounds good to me!”

Here is how it works if you want to know. She had obviously paid $9.99 or $10 cash for the never worn red shoes. She was hoping to sell them for $49.99. but, here I was, a good customer whom she knows well,  She decided to take $9.99 cash from me to cover her initial financial outlay for the red shoes and take the remaining $40 in credit off of the sales of the items I had just brought in. This was a good deal all the way around because she was guaranteed to get rid of the red shoes, and she knew she would be able to get the remainder of her money soon from the sales of the items I just consigned with her. Normally consignment stores do not do things like this, but I know her and shop and trade with her on a regular basis. Had she not done this with me she might have had this pair of red shoes for months. In NYC or LA they would sell right away, but in Seattle few people actually wear shoes like this! She was lucky that I had come in.

For me, the arrangement was good. I had just gotten rid of a huge pile of clothes freeing up usable space in my house and I had acquired a great pair of shiny modern red high heels in my size for my shoe collection! My financial outlay was only $9.99 for a pair of brand new $100 shoes. I could justify spending that much ($9.99) on this pair as I had been wanting some for quite a while! A gap in my red shoe collection was filled! And I had just gotten rid of a big pile of unused items so I could justify bringing home just one pair of pretty new shoes I would actually use!

I know I will also get usable credit for future clothing or shoe trades at this store, and I know she will have have things I will want in the future. I think I should explain that this is the only store in Seattle where I will trade or buy on a reliable basis. Most of the vintage clothing and designer clothing consignment stores in this town are not dealing with sophisticated enough items or high level enough merchandise for me to bother with. I was lucky to find this pair of red patent shoes in this particular situation. And they are just what I had been wanting. Just what I had been hoping I would find, as I explained in the beginning of this post, and I did! This is why I think my theory works!

Photos by Fredric Lehrman.

Styled by Violette de Courcy.

Shoes from the Lady Violette Shoe Collection.


The Ballet Dancer’s Red Shoes ~ Retro 1940’s High Drama Cherry Platforms & How Ballet Slippers Originally Came Into Fashion as Street Shoes ~ From The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Red shoes are everywhere! So are ballet slippers being worn as street shoes. You just have to keep your eyes open for them. I am always on the lookout! I recently found this great pair of red shoes by Chinese Laundry in a thrift shop near my house. They were in brand new shape, never worn! They are a perfect fit and have that great 1940’s retro vibe ~ perfect with WWII era rayon print dresses and navy blue 1940’s suits. Note the high drama platform sole, the raised four inch heel, and the thin, but practical and feminine ankle strap. And the just right shade and color of 1940’s blue tinged cherry red! I had to pick up a matching red lipstick to wear with them!

A Terrific 1940's Look From Chinese Laundry!


Combined with a great little 40’s era hat they make me look and feel like I’m waiting for my man to come home from the war! Amazingly, I got these for a post World War II Era Price, too! I only paid $9.99 for them! Of course that made me feel great as well!

Chinese Laundry makes sexy reasonably priced shoes that are sold in malls at stores like Nordstrom’s and Macy’s. I have a great pair of black silk satin ones ~ on high platforms, as well, ~ that look like like something  from a 1970’s Yves St. Laurent runway show. And a pair of midnight navy ones that channel Isabella Rosellini in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. There is a gorgeous pair of black lace ones, again on their trademark dramatic platform soles, that has just come out for the holidays! These sell for the amazingly reasonable price of about $69.99 as I recall! Part of the reason this can be done at this low price is because of the types of materials used for the shoes.

These shoes are not leather and many of their designs are made of cloth like satin or velvet or lace ~ again just like the shoes that were made in France were during the wars because they were not allowed to use leather that had to be allocated to the war effort for soldier’s boots and shoes. In fact the French designers were so clever during the wars with their use of cloth and other materials in the creation of inventive attractive shoes, that British women were extremely envious of them.

During this time period platform soles evolved, and colored printed fabric was used for espadrilles and wrapped like ballet dancer’s ribbons around the ankles to secure the wearer’s shoes. Ballet shoes were not rationed. They were made of leather or canvas and were relatively inexpensive. An insole could be cut of cardboard at home and inserted inside to give the shoe more shape and solidity for street wear. It could be tied on with ribbons or secured with attached elastic. All these tricks for customizing ballet slippers were commonly practiced by dancers. Dancers, then fashion designers, then regular women discovered this and showed ballet shoes worn with shortened gathered skirts thus developing ballerina length cocktail and evening dresses and ballerina length dresses for day! Ballerina length skirts used less material than long ball gowns. And ballet shoes were charming and feminine and cheap! That is how the evolution of ballet slippers being worn as fashion shoes that is so popular today, began.

Chinese Laundry is a company that deliberately and successfully makes a line of shoes that look like some other designer’s shoes from the past.They are meant to wear with one special outfit and not set you back a fortune! They are essentially a costume shoe! I think it is great that they make shoes like this for reasonable prices when you want them for one wearing! These 1940’s styles are also so dramatic they would work well for period stage costumes. I find these shoes comfortable too! I have had no problem wearing them for several hours!

Photos by Fredric Lehrman.

Styling by Violette de Courcy.

Shoes from the Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

Red Shoes by Chinese Laundry in a 1940s Inspired Platform Style

Exotic Red Silk Embroidered Chinese Slippers From A Ballet Dancer’s Personal Collection of Red Shoes in the Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Friday, September 9th, 2011

I now have all kinds of red shoes ~ from boudoir slippers to ballet slippers, from dance shoe to clogs, from tennis shoes to party shoes! Even a pair of red patent leather boots! The first pair of red shoes I remember having were a tiny pair of exotic red silk Mary Janes with dragons embroidered on the toes and flowers all around the sides. I was born in San Francisco and lived there when I was a little girl. My mother got me the dragon slippers in China Town when I was about three years old. She had a black pair for herself. They were to wear in the house like slippers because the soles were very lightweight. I liked mine so much that I insisted on sleeping with them! I would not go to bed without my favorite shoes! My father had to move my bed up against the wall and tuck me in, then line my favorite shoes up on the side of the bed next to the wall! Even then I liked pretty colorful shoes! I had black patent party shoes, pale blue ones, white ones with little bows on the toes and my red dragon ones! And I would not let them out of my sight! I insisted on keeping them right next to me while I slept.

When I outgrew the red dragon shoes the got me another pair, and I recall they were decorated with hearts and flowers. Eventually I had a royal blue pair, And a black pair! And another red pair. By now, I have had several red pairs! These are always available pretty much everywhere Chinese imports are sold in sizes that will fit babies through large adults. They are usually sold folded up in a clear plastic wrapper and are stocked in bins or baskets on the floor. They generally retail for under $10! They look very exotic, but are sold for under $10 ~ I am always amazed at the low price and how the Chinese can they make something  so pretty and manage to sell it to us for a profit! I love to give them to people as Christmas presents along with a few other pretty colorful gifts. They make great affordable stocking stuffers! They are available in sizes that will work for all ages and can be worn by men as well as women. The black ones with dragons on them are particularly suitable for men.

The Pair! So Pretty and available in all sizes for all ages!

There Is No Such Thing As Too Many Pairs of Red Shoes! ~ The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

Sweet Red Suede Pumps by Sara Kent

These are red suede trimmed with pheasant feathers by Sara Kent. Found in a little boutique in Seattle ,WA. Made in Italy. Positively Irresistible! These are from 2004.

Butterfly Bows in Suede on Shiny Red Leather Flats ~ Circa 1980s by Sesto Meucci

Following is a pair from the 1980’s designed by Sesto Meucci with a suede bow on the vamp that I think looks like a butterfly. I remember pictures of Princess Dianna wearing a pair just like these so they always remind me of her. She wore them with knife pleated skirts.

They Were Made in Italy and I recall reading that she wore them to play down her height.



Cherry Blossom Festival Hand Painted Clogs Sized for a Little Girl – from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

I love hand decorated and painted shoes. And I love ethnic costumes. And fantasy ensembles. I grew up with a constantly evolving and expanding dress up trunk. That trunk eventually became a costume room. My mother and I went thrifting almost every Saturday and came home with many treasures which she would alter or remake in my smaller size for me to wear and play with. I could honestly dress like a princess every day! And I did. When I was at home I could wear whatever I wanted and it was usually something absolutely fantastical.

Adorable Child Size Cherry Blossom Clog Sandals ~ About a Size 8 for Little Girls ~ Fits A Four Year Old

We had a big old house. There was an extra room – formerly a nursery or playroom and it eventually became the sewing and costume room where all the dress ups were kept. We had a sewing machine set up in there and we rigged up a three way mirror at one end of the room. We had a little wooden platform with three steps up, then a flat surface at the top with about a 2×3 foot rectangular “floor.” I would climb up there, stand on the platform section in front of the mirror, and my mother would help me into some fantastical frothy old ball gown or prom dress we had found. This was a typical scenario. I was about 5 yrs old and the ornate tulle dress was made for an adult woman. But no matter! My mother was an expert seamstress. She would cut the dresses way down and alter them to fit me.

Thus, she could indulge her hobby for sewing fantastical costumes – fairly tale princess gowns – and I could dress up to my hearts content. She also restored and remade dresses for herself when we found attractive vintage pieces that she liked. That is how my interest in all things vintage and beautiful clothes began and eventually evolved to the point it is today!

Soles are Solid Wood But Have a Non~Skid Black Rubber Piece Attached to the Bottom

When I found these beautiful pink cherry blossom wooden bottomed shoes in a grungy second hand store I instantly thought these would be perfect additions to the child’s costume collection. They are beautiful little works of art! I have no idea what they were originally made for or to go with or where. I am hoping someone who sees them here can help me to identify them. If you read this and know anything about these, would you please let me know? They have no markings or sizing of any kind on them.

I do carry on my family tradition of creating and maintaining a child’s costume trunk and stash. I make costumes for it too. Most recently a pair of boys pirate pants, by special request as a birthday present. And a little girl’s version of a very elegant black raw silk and tulle Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany’s long party dress for a 4 year old to wear for her birthday party with black silk party shoes, a crystal Eissenberg Ice Brooch at the waist, an aurora borealis necklace and a rhinestone tiara!

Working on my child’s costume trunk is really fun and a constant work in progress. I enjoy keeping is stocked with all manner of fancy dress up and play outfits, finding ethnic costumes in small sizes, tiny beaded purses, small sized Asian style pajamas and “smoking jackets” and, of course, the outrageous party dresses which I transform into Jean-Antoine Watteau inspired miniature ball gowns.

Cherry Blossom Child's Shoe in Profile

I discovered old bridesmaid dresses in raw silk or silk dupioni are common finds at thrift stores and run about $9.99 in my town. They are normally white or cream real silk and the skits contain several yards of silk fabric! Yes! Expensive silk fabric. I carefully remove the skirts by picking out the seams with a seam ripper. Sine the dresses are commonly long (and really ugly designs!) this often yields 3 to 4 yards of nice silk! Silk that would cost at least $20 per yard at a fabric store new. The fact that is is white or off whit is a plus because I can easily dye it. The dresses sometimes have borders of elegant lace or over skirts of lace or applique. Sometimes large bows or sashes. Sometimes flowers made of silk and used as trimming.This is a great source of material for creating new and fantastic elegant princess gowns. In this case, gowns worthy of Charles James, Valentina or Norman Norell. It is good practice for me, the designer – to see what I can come up with working with inexpensive materials in small sizes. These are my training dresses as a designer.

I have done a dove blue grey one, a subtle gold brown one, a black one, and a soft yellow gold one. and the recent black one. I aim for antique looking colors and styles from Watteau paintings. I will photograph some of them soon when I can get the model who is now 4 years old to cooperate! Fortunately she loves this kind of play!

I have recently been collecting old style straw children’s large straw hats to add to my Watteau inspired vision of child’s dressing.  And very small sizes ~ like old fashioned tiny ladies size 4 ~ of vintage high heels and party shoes and boots and other types of old fashioned shoes.

I am planning ahead so that my in house model, will be able to wear them when she is about 6 to 8 years old! You have to train little girls from an early age to love vintage clothes and elegant jewelry, hats and shoes. And to walk in high heels, of course! That is very important! And it is a skill that should be passed down from generation to generation. That is how I learned! Playing dress up in my mother’s and aunt’s hats and jewelry and high heels and being allowed and encouraged to do so. They played with me and had a wonderful time too! Our house was a constant fashion show. And it was a great education! Women need to pass these skills down to each other, and it is a privilege to be able to both give and receive in this respect!

Just one last thought! Don’t these shoes look like lovely little liquor flavored Petits Fours? And don’t they make you hungry for some of those?

How Charming! I Wish I Could find These in My Size! They Are so Pretty and Flowery!


Photographs by Fredric Lehrman.

Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection.























Hand Painted Red Clogs ~ circa 1970 From A Ballet Dancer’s Personal Collection of Red Vintage Shoes in The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Red shoes go with many things. If they don’t match they often provide a nice accent. They cheer you up for some reason. Christian Louboutin has put red soles on the bottom of many of his shoes for years. The red sole has become his trademark. That red sole, with all the other colors in his designs works, no matter what women are wearing with his shoes. And they love it. They love it because it is cheerful red and because it gives them a status jolt to be seen, coming and going, with that bit of red on the bottom of their shoes.

Alas I do not own a pair of Louboutins.  They haven’t come to me yet. They probably will some day, but the time has not been right yet. If anyone wants to send me a pair, my European shoe size is 38 medium width and I would love to have a some! It is possible that somebody out there has some and doesn’t like wearing them and would like to pass them on to someone who would!

Meanwhile, I will tell you about my Danish country shoes. My mother was 100% Danish. The Danes traditionally love red shoes, and clogs, or wooden shoes, as some people call them. They also love to paint things to make them pretty around the house. This is one of the traditional Scandinavian Feminine Arts.

Red Leather Clogs Hand Painted with Scandiavian Designs by My Mother

Red Leather Uppers on Traditional Wooden Clogs Handpainted with Scandinavian Motifs by My Mother

My mother painted everything with traditional Danish and Swedish motifs and it was very charming. We had small tables, dressers, bedroom furniture, stools, chairs, lamps, vases, baskets, and of course, shoes, painted in traditional Scandinavian patterns. Here is a pair of bright red leather clogs that my mother decorated. I have a navy blue pair of this type as well. She also painted this little lidded picnic basket which can be used to carry lunch for one person or is small enough to use as a casual purse.

Red Clogs & Small Handmade Wooden Picnic Basket Hand Painted With Traditional Danish Motifs ~ Can Be Used as a Lunch Basket or as a Small Casual Purse

We had clogs lined up in a row on the porch to put on when we went out in the yard and garden. We were supposed to jump out of them to come into the house in our socks so we would not get the wooden floors and rugs dirty. Since we had worn clogs in this way from the time we started to walk we had no trouble walking or running in them at all. I wear them at home this way to this day because they are so convenient and easy to use. I love the fact that you can just slip them off and jump into them when you are ready to go outside again ~ with no tying or buckling or time required! They are very good for your feet too. And they are so durable they never wear out. I have a black pair too. They have tiny blue forget~me~not flowers painted all over them. It is fun to have your shoes personalized in this way too. We would get a pair and choose what flower to have her paint on them for us and she would decorate our shoes however we liked. I will do a post about clogs sometime soon and show photos of all the ones we have. I am showing this pair, now, as part of my red shoes collection.

I have red dress shoes, casual dress flats, clogs, boots, and casual sports shoes in my red shoes collection. I also have several pairs of red shoes made specifically for ballroom dancing  so they have soft suede soles, and a pair of amazing thigh high red real patent leather boots that were made as part of a very glamorous theater costume for a production of The Merry Widow. I have a sweet pair of traditional Chinese flower embroidered silk slippers which were very inexpensive and are easily available in Chinatown stores everywhere. I like them because they are so colorful and folkloric. In contrast  I have a pair of specially made red suede Flamenco dance shoes which are beautiful and exceptionally sturdy as they must be to with stand the rigors of flamenco dancing. It is a good thing that I am getting them out and going through them now to blog about them!

I will finally figure out exactly what I have, how many pairs, etc. My faithful sheep mascots below are helping me! They will see to it that I finish this project! They are really determined! Plus, they like experimenting and playing with all this vintage stuff.

The Sewing Sheep Showing the Picnic Basket, or Purse, Being Used as a Sewing and Knitting Baslet

My little sewing sheep mascots, the measuring sheep, and his mother, the knitting sheep, are quick to point out that this little picnic basket also makes a nice small portable sewing basket! They are demonstrating that they have no aversion to being put inside it along with a little sewing project and coming along to the local sewing store to pick out buttons or ribbon or going to a friends house for a session of knitting visit! Air can get into the basket through the slats so they can breathe if they are inside. They came up with this idea. They said the basket looked very versatile to them and could probably also be used as a sewing basket! Sheep are very smart! The small sheep has a tape measure inside him. You pull on his tail to extend it, then push on his tummy, to roll it up inside. His mother is filled with sand so she stands up securely. Her tail is a long black grosgrain ribbon to which I have tied my embroidery scissors so they don’t get carried off to some far corner of the house! She is addicted to knitting. She uses toothpicks for needles and makes mufflers for other small animals. The toothpicks are the same size as # 1 or #2 sock needles. I did a small piece of sample knitting with a sock yarn I was trying out, then slipped it off my sock needles and onto her toothpick needles to help her get started. She has been knitting ever since! I have her make all my gauge swatches of sock yarn and she just loves helping out this way!

Shoes from the Lady Violette Shoe Collection.

Basket Purse from The Lady Violette Handbag Collection

A Pair of Famous Paradise Kittens Circa 1950 From A Ballet Dancer’s Personal Collection of Red Vintage Shoes in the Lady Violette Shoe Collection

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Here is an additional pair of wonderful red vintage shoes from my personal ballerina’s collection.They are Paradise Kittens Spectator Pumps from the 1950s done in bright blue red leather with black accents.

Paradise Kittens Blue Red Leather Spectator Pumps with Black Accents ~ circa 1950.

Paradise Kittens were famous for their comfortable construction and fashionable styles. They emphasized comfort. They took out charming well done ads in major 1950s magazines. These made it into every upper middle class and upper class home and fueled the desire for their shoes. The women in the ads looked like they were living the life you wanted to be living and the implication was that you would be as soon as you owned several pairs of their fabulous shoes! They are beautifully cushioned inside and incredibly comfortable. And the styles are very appealing in that Town and Country super elegant tasteful lady like way. A feminine and charming look which I, for one, thoroughly approve of!

Paradise Kittens Emphasized Comfort and Beauty ~ The Heels were About 1 and 1/2 Inches High and Really Quite Elegant in Their Understated Way.

The heels on this typical style example are low – about one and a half inches high. The Kittens were made in America and emphasized patriotism in their add campaigns. The ad campaigns also showed the three to five styles you would need to get you through a typical day as a well dressed socialite, wife or mother.

They cleverly advocated buying three to five pairs every season to be prepared for every event you would need to attend as well as day to day activities. I heartily agree with this type of plan! Three to five new pairs of shoes every three months year after year sounds just fine to me! My grandmother loved them and actually played by their recommended numerical rules. She did buy that many shoes each season. Not all were Paradise Kittens, but many were. She loved the name too. So do I. It speaks of softness and luxury, don’t you think?

The shoes were made to last. They lasted way longer than a season. In fact she wore them, then passed them down to her daughters, who wore them. I finally received this pair. I think it lasted so long both because it was very well constructed and because it was an unusual color combination that was only worn with an outfit or two and was not used as often as their caramels brown and black ones. I also remember a pair of dark green, blue and purple ones with a cute loafer styling and a tassel. They were often designed to look good with tailored dresses, skirt suits, tweeds, capes, and wool coats ~ in general,  all elegant sportswear.

I have an adorable 1950s red plaid wool skirt suit from Bobbie Brooks which would have been one of the types of outfits originally intended to be worn with these Paradise Kitten Red and Black Spectator Pumps. The skirt is a narrow mid calf length pencil cut and the jacket is a boxy cut with padded shoulders. It is a strong red and black plaid from head to toe. I recently got it out to have it cleaned and tried it on, to decide what to do with it. Altogether it seems like way too much red plaid to me all at once right now! I have two ideas on how I want to use it now. I think I want to break it up and use the jacket with an original era appropriate solid black longish pencil skirt as one look;  and, as the second look, combine the red plaid pencil skirt with a modern black narrow tight fitting knit sweater top as another. I see wearing black opaque tights with both.

For me these shoes will be perfect with both looks. Today’s current fashions would dictate a high heeled black leather platform shoe with both of the looks I have described. Such shoes would definitely add height and elongate both looks, and look really great with both parts of the red plaid suit. It would require me to spend another $300 minimum ~ up to $800 for such a pair of on trend shoes. Personally, I have two reactions to this: I don’t want to spend that amount of money on that kind of shoes right now, and I actually prefer the look and the feel of this perfect little pair of 1950s Paradise Kittens for me. They are more comfortable and better for my body! Plus, I have them already! And I am a vintage purist. I like putting my outfits together using real components from the original eras! I think it is much cooler to be absolutely authentic in this way.

I am lucky in that I am the right size for these vintage looks proportionately as I am on the small fine boned side. They were designed for women about my size and height originally. When I get my two red plaid outfits completely worked out as I have described here, I will photograph them and post the results. It is the first of September today! It is time to start planning how to dress for fall. Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the season and the fashion possibilities. I love getting my capes and tweeds out at this time of year! And the cooler weather will be coming along soon. What a treat that will be!

Photos by Fredric Lehrman.

Shoes from The Lady Violette Shoe Collection

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

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

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