Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Importance of Being Well Heeled

I was recently having dinner with a friend when the topic of conversation quickly veered towards shoes. (This often happens.) Particularly, our shoe buying habits. I will be the first to admit that I shamelessly invest substantial amounts of money into my shoe collection which consists mostly of the high heeled variety. I strongly believe that a better quality of shoe will provide a better fit and better support for your feet. After all, the foot contains more bones than any other single part of the body making them vital to your daily mobility. In my opinion, a poorly constructed stiletto is a sure way to a painful situation. So, when it comes to acquiring new footwear, I practice a quality over quantity philosophy. Consider how necessary our feet are to our everyday existence. It only makes sense that one would take care to keep their feet and shoes in their best condition. If your feet are unwell, how far do you think you will go? Chances are you're not going to leave your house barefoot. 

With the amount of funds allocated to footwear it would be outrageously irresponsible of me not to take care of them. So, I choose to protect my investments. For this, I frequent the Leather Spa. They have a couple of locations around NYC, but I patronize the store based beneath the Plaza Hotel. It happens to be convenient for me and, honestly, I like to have lunch there. I have the soles covered in rubber to protect them and ensure their longevity. I find this is the best way to preserve my shoes. The rubber also provides added stability when traversing about town which is especially helpful when I have a penchant for heels 4 inches and above. I treat most pairs with a water and stain repellent, store them in a ventilated space, and I always pack them in dust covers when I travel. I can assure you that the cost of preventive care is much less than a new pair of shoes.

I will always favor a stiletto over a flat shoe. So just as I take care of my shoes, I must take care of my feet. It's no secret that wearing high heels puts pressure on your feet and legs, but this is something I'm willing to deal with in exchange for the more appealing side effects. Don't let a good outfit be ruined by a terrible shoe. I know there are several women who agree with me. Regular pedicures promote healthy circulation in the body and shiny, colorful toenails. It simply is a win win situation. 
The practice of wearing shoes clearly grew out of a necessity and are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. Whilst they provide both an aesthetic and functional purpose, we must also consider the emotional factor of a great shoe. It's okay to invest in your footwear. Shoes are important because they can help you get where you need to go. They help convey the message you want to project. When I put on a pair of amazing high heels I feel a sense of elevated confidence. My posture changes, my stride adjusts and I walk with purpose. Whatever heel height you choose, I implore you to hold your head high and walk with certainty.

Step boldly into the New Year and stay well heeled because a good pair of shoes will take you good places.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Autumn Wine

Every dress I add to my wardrobe has its own story. The story usually begins with me scouring the web, flipping through a magazine, or perusing my favorite boutiques looking for love. Sometimes, love finds me. It would seem that beautiful frocks and I have a mutual love that is constantly bringing us together. This particular frock found me in the way of a selfie. 

My girlfriend Jackie was searching for a dress for a holiday party when she preceded to show me selfies of a few options she was mulling over. I scrolled past a couple before this one caught my attention. This very perfect autumn dress, a jersey knee length LANVIN number the color of Burgundy wine from Pre Fall 2013. On the hanger, the dress doesn't have much appeal, but on the body you can clearly see the detail of the gathering on the neckline and the amazing drape work that ALBER ELBAZ is known for. It has a belt that ties at the waist and a dolman sleeve. The love was radiating from the picture on her iPhone. Immediately I informed her that the dress and I were meant to be together and that well, I'd have to buy it. She graciously let me have the dress and opted for a navy blue dress instead. Thank you, Jackie. 

I paired this piece with my CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN Mariniere sandals from Spring / Summer 2014. Being crafted of black and white python, these were not exactly what I would call inexpensive, but they were an excellent investment to my shoe collection. They serve as a neutral option whilst providing texture. The shoe takes its name from the classic French sailors striped smock. No doubt a reference to the shoes horizontal straps. 

These pictures were taken on a crisp autumn day in the gardens at Maymount Park, a beautiful place for a fashionable stroll. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

From the Fashion Library - Queen of Fashion What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution

Whilst conducting research for my upcoming book about the deeply rich world of haute couture, the art of hand made custom fitted clothing, I came across Rose Bertin, an 18th century Parisian milliner and dressmaker. I learned that Bertin was Marie Antoinette's favorite stylist and is credited for bringing haute couture and Fashion to French culture. She helped outfit the monarch in the extravagant outfits and accouterment that would solidify the French queen's place in history as a Fashion icon.

Google soon led me to Caroline Weber's QUEEN OF FASHION WHAT MARIE ANTOINETTE WORE TO THE REVOLUTION. In this book Weber, professor of French literature and culture, teaches us the impact that the queen's controversial clothing choices had on politics and the general public. After arriving in France at the age of 14, Marie Antoinette was severely scrutinized in every aspect of her life. Being of Austrian descent and a woman, her voice was limited. Marie Antoinette found a way to speak with Fashion and since the world looked to Versailles for the latest trends, everyone listened. Whether wearing expensive silks or dressing in a muslim chemise the queen was always making a statement. Women of these times had to use what was available to assert their authority or at the least appearance of.

With the marriage arrangements, it was ingrained in MARIE ANTOINETTE the importance of her appearance and presentation; she understood that she could wield power and influence with her wardrobe choices. Louis XIV had already established a strong culture of Fashion used to mark status in France well before Marie Antoinette came to court. In Versailles, Fashion was law and serious business. This was a time when the color of your shoe or the sash on your coat dictated your life and your political allegiance. Much like printed slogan t shirts or styles of clothing associated with members of various social groups today. A lot of cultures today still have strict dress codes for women and what they mean. The power to control what you put on your body can easily be taken for granted, but is not lost to me. 

Early in her tenure at Versailles, the queen incorporated masculine styles that led to accusations of homosexuality. She often hosted fancy soirees were she wore elaborate ball gowns; she was accused of bankrupting the monarchy. When she turned to more simple fashions, she was accused of sexual corruption. (The consensus was that the loose muslin garments she wore allowed for easy access to breast and genitals. Obviously, women were using them for secret rendezvouses!) The aristocracy was concerned that if Fashion lines were blurred there would be no way to tell the royals from the commoners and so Marie Antoinette's more casual choices were viewed as disrespectful to French culture. Because Louis XVI did little to quell Marie Antoinette's spending, it would seem that she ruled him and thus France. In reality, the queen's wardrobe budget was negligible to the nation's total deficit that resulted in the downfall of the Bourbon monarchy that was the French Revolution.

The French entertained the theory that because women were so eager to copy the Queen's Fashion they were at risk to exhibit loose morals to be able to obtain the latest bonnet or bodice. For even when they hated her for her perceived indulgence and for being a notorious spendthrift, women still followed her fashionable lead. She started trends that captivated not only a nation, but a continent.

Was too much emphasis and scrutiny placed on what the QUEEN OF FASHION wore? Of course, but its not unlike modern celebrity branding. My daily news feed is dominated by what the latest pop singer wore to dinner the night before and strategically placed campaigns featuring a popular actor. Eighteenth century Fashion advertisements of clothed miniature dolls and printed pamphlets serve as precursors to the way we are influenced to shop and buy today. There is no doubt in my mind that if social media and the internet had existed during her reign, Marie Antoinette would have been the ultimate celebrity endorsement. 

It's more than unfortunate that Marie Antoinette's wardrobe was not saved and preserved for posterity. Only a few pieces survived the raid at the Tuileries of what was undoubtably a magnificent collection of frocks. From reading WEBER'S book, I gained a clear understanding of how France's affair with haute couture is intertwined with Marie Antoinette and the dresses she wore. It is by all accounts a brilliant review of this very important part of Fashion history.

In the end, Marie Antoinette may have lost her head, but she never lost her style.