“I’m not sure I approve of you wearing those to work,” said H as he peered at my feet yesterday evening. “You’re going to cripple yourself, or have an accident.” It was my turn to look down at the black court shoes. “It’s really not a big deal,” I replied, trying for nonchalant, “I’ve always had shoes like this for the office.” “Really?” He scrutinized my face and concluded I was lying. “Whatever,” he shrugged, “just don’t come crying to me if (when) you hurt yourself.” I winced: at that very moment I wasn’t sure what was paining me more, my feet or the fact that H was right.
I have been aware for some years now that, as a woman, I’m supposed to love shoes. I mean LOVE them. Obsessively. Problem is, I generally couldn’t care less. Shoes, as I see them, have two functions: 1. They prevent me standing on shards of glass and infected needles 2. They allow me to wear socks outside when it’s a bit chilly (which it is in Britain for most of the year).
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that those black patent Christian Louboutins with the 6-inch heels are jaw-dropping amazing. Yet the mere thought of running for a tube or hop-skipping down an escalator in them because I’m late for a rendezvous (likely) leaves me feeling queasy. Death by shoe-related tumble is not the way I plan to go out.
Despite my own lack of interest, or perhaps because of it, I find the whole shoe-fawning thing fascinating. So when my PR friend, Mindy, invited me to a fashion bloggers event for a French shoe company called Sarenza a couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be an exercise in social anthropology if nothing else.
That I am no fashion blogger myself was immediately apparent on my entering the back room of the Foundation Bar: every other woman (fashionista) had on the kind of skyscraper heels that make me feel sick. “But I thought flats were in?” I wailed internally; I’d definitely read something about Pippa and Kate (rah rah royals) starting a trend in ballet pumps. After making a mental note to never wear flats to a fashion event again, I slipped into a corner, grabbed a flute of champagne and started gossiping with Mindy about her love life. Alas, technically working, my one ally (friend) soon dissolved into the huddle of too-cool-for-school style scribes and left me to flick through issues of Now and Closer whilst everyone else chit-chatted around me.
“I live half in France and half here,” a girl sitting close by piped up in a plumy voice. I saw a chance to integrate. “Oh, whereabouts?” I asked. She screwed up her face. “It’s just that I was living in Nice until recently,” I quickly added. This clearly gave credibility to my interruption and soon the girl was chattering at me incessantly about how she splits her time between fashion blogging, her academic studies and working her way up the ranks of the junior wing of the Conservative Party. “Last night I was at Westminster doing a quiz,” she told me between sips, “Boris Johnson was the quiz master, it was hill-ar-ious.” I preferred it when I was standing in the corner on my own.
Handling a pair of shoe-boots I really liked…I was later stopped from leaving in them
On spotting a woman closer to me in age and also wearing flat shoes, I slipped away from the teenager and introduced myself. With Miss Normal as a companion, I now found the inner courage to start looking at the shoes strategically displayed around the room. “Oooo, these are nice,” I cooed as I grabbed a green, open-toed evening number hanging from a low chandelier. I twirled the green suede and gold-trimmed heel in my hand. “It’s funny,” I said to Miss Normal, “I’ve never really understood the whole shoe-obsession thing but when I look at this I start to appreciate the aesthetic.” I reluctantly went to hang the shoe back up; it swung for a second then fell directly onto the blonde head of a fashionista below. I apologised profusely and went to hang it up again, only it did the same thing, landing with a thud on her perfectly styled up-do. She tried to laugh but her nostrils were flaring and she moved slightly to the side. “Third time lucky, hey?” I said. On this attempt I managed to knock the whole lampshade/shoe display construction: the same heel flew off and hit the same girl. Farcical isn’t the word. “Oh my God, you must think I’ve got it in for you! I haven’t. Honestly.” Sensing an explosive, hair-pulling situation, Mindy jumped in, dealt with the display and then pulled me out of the fray by introducing me to her boss.
The precarious chandelier of shoes, gorgeous green ones to the rear
“Have you got a shoe fetish?” I asked him, the champagne clearly rendering me without social etiquette. “Oh absolutely,” he answered unfazed, “but it’s totally non-sexual.” Sensing that I was slightly inebriated he and Mindy then cajoled me into modeling a pair of faux tiger fur platforms that had ‘twisted ankle’ written all over them.
“Don’t try and pretend you’ve suddenly got a shoe fetish, non-sexual or otherwise,” H mocked me when I go home later that evening, “even I’ve got more shoes than you have.” He blew a raspberry, which I ignored. “Let me guess which ones you tried on…” he continued as he flicked through the Sarenza catalogue I’d been given. “Those?” I glanced over, “Yes.” He laughed. “What?” I muttered. “They’re ridiculous!” “God, you’re such a man.” I shook my head in feigned resignation but, in fairness, as a woman I couldn’t pretend I totally got it either. Still, I decided at that moment that I might just start to try, hence the black court shoes I was modeling yesterday night. Fingers crossed there are no bones broken by breakfast.
Indulge your own shoe fetish (faux or genuine) at www.sarenza.co.uk
- theinfatuationist posted this