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Blue Suede Cork Bottom Heels

Blue Suede Cork Bottom Heels

Little Woman
June 1993
Majorca, Spain

We landed in Paris on Bastille Day. We were separated on the very first train. We thought we were going to be killed by the barrage of firecrackers being thrown by the French revelers. Somehow we survived it all. Larkin, Lexi and I planned a three month backpacking adventure through Europe to celebrate our graduation from college. After Paris we headed to Portugal and then to Spain. We ended up visiting San Sebastian, Salamanca and then headed straight for Majorca.

Every night in Spain we had a carafe (or two) of red wine and a generous helping of paella. The evenings were warm and we ate every meal outside under the moon and stars. We often played travel Yahtzee until the wee hours of the morning. Larkin would win almost every time.

One Saturday morning we decided to walk about town instead of going straight to the beach. All of the Spanish girls were wearing fabulous shoes in bright colors with large cork stacked heels. I was determined to find a pair for my very own. The first few shops did little to curb my desire. We were easily sidetracked by window displays of pearls, but managed to keep on looking for shoes. There seemed to be quite a few folks on the street and we assumed that was common fare. The next shoe store looked like a good one so we headed in.

After trying on 7 or 8 pairs, I finally found a pair of navy blue sandals that were perfect. They had just a hint of an open toe so I wouldn’t have to expose too much. The cork platform was at least an inch or two and then a three or four inch stacked heel. They were perfect and comfortable too! I was wearing cutoff Levi’s and a sleeveless cutoff plaid shirt. With the heels, and my hearty tan I almost looked like Daisy Duke. I felt like her. I had to have them. I decided to keep them on and threw my sneakers into my bag.

During the time that we had spent trying on cork heeled shoes, the sidewalks had become utterly packed with people. Had we really been in the store that long? There were guards everywhere and barricades up to keep folks from getting out on to the street. My fabulous new sandals helped me to see over the crowds and we began to walk up the block. “La reina, la reina!” a small girl in the crowd shouted out. Though I had a very limited knowledge of the Spanish language I knew we were in the presence of royalty. Larkin was able to talk to some folks in Spanish and learned that the King and Queen of Spain would be arriving any minute for an event at a nearby hotel. Always a fan of royalty, I could hardly wait. Just a few moments later the motorcade arrived. We only saw a glimpse of the King and Queen as they turned to the crowds and gave an obligatory wave and gracious smile. We joined the crowd in cheers. What a jubilant afternoon – we were in the presence of royalty. We would celebrate my new shoes and royal sighting with another scrumptious paella feast under the stars. Too bad the incredibly handsome Prince Felipe wasn’t around to join us.

paladium-blue-sneakers

Navy Blue Sneakers

Navy Blue Sneakers

Paladium
July 1993
Monte Carlo

There are times when you just feel out of place, that you really don’t belong. When you enter a room and notice that you are different from everyone around you. For some reason, everyone else suddenly seems better than you are. Better dressed, better groomed, better read. It’s humbling enough when you feel that way in a crowded room – just image when an entire country is examining your cutoff Guess jeans, plaid shirt and silly hiking boots. This is precisely how I felt backpacking my way through Monte Carlo.

After a long afternoon of touring the sites and day dreaming of a life as a royal princess, we decided to continue wandering around the narrow windy streets in town. I began to notice that a lot of the women were wearing Paladiums, very simple but stylish sneakers. I had noticed them in Paris and in Nice but seeing the women in Cannes and Monte Carlo wearing them sealed the deal for me. I had to have a pair! With one fortuitous turn of the corner we walked straight into a darling boutique. Larkin found a shirt or two and I found my shoes. They had them in nearly every color. I assumed I would be able to find them elsewhere at a much better price but I had to have them now. After careful analysis and lengthy discussion on the pros and cons of each color, Larkin and Lexi decided I should go with the navy blue ones. They fit perfectly and were so comfortable. No wonder everyone was wearing them. Deciding I had no option but to wear them immediately, I quickly stuck my ugly boots in the bag. I was already looking better.

I was determined to make a change. That night I wore my slim black pants, a cute little colorful t-shirt, a pink scarf around my neck and my Paladiums. Walking down by the moon lit sea that night I finally felt like I belonged. I would never be a princess, but tonight I felt like one.

brown-leather-slip-ons

Brown Leather Slip-ons

Brown Leather Slip-ons

Unknown Designer
August, 1993
Paris, France

Nothing in the world tastes better than melted Nutella falling out of a warm crepe – touching your tongue and smothering your lips. If I close my eyes I can smell it now. I can taste it. I can feel it. The intense butter of the crepe, the heavy helping of warm milk chocolate, the heat rising, causing the smells to swirl together to create the most luscious aroma that envelops you and sweeps you off to another world. And the taste of the Nutella as it sticks to your lips and the soft crepe against your teeth and tongue. Simply sinful. Simply delicious.

Larkin and I made this culinary delight a daily treat each and every one of our last days in Paris. We’d order our crepes every afternoon around 4 o’clock from the same stand down the street from our hotel. We’d sit on the curb and devour the crepes as if it was our very last meal, savoring ever moment, every bite, every lick. Not noticing the smells or sounds of the cars whizzing by.

It was our last day in Paris and we would be leaving for England the next morning. We had eaten our last crepes, took pictures of the stand, and realized there really wasn’t much left for us to do or see. We decided to go shopping. In the foggy haze of a delightful food coma, we headed down the tree lined street to see what we could find. It wasn’t long before Larkin spotted a shoe store across the street. Of course we went in.

I had never seen such a simple yet unusual collection of shoes. There were only three colors, black, dark brown and light brown, and all of the shoes were leather. Every pair had the exact same full rounded toe. The only difference was the height of the shoe. There were slip-ons, loafers, short boots, mid calf boots, full boots and a few others in between. I don’t know why the whole thing seemed so odd. It was really so simple. The shoes were made out of the most wonderful thick leather and the heels were all made of the same sturdy sole. They were so basic and pure – I wanted one of each.

But how does one decide? I first selected my color choice, dark brown, which helped me to eliminate two-thirds of the store, but I then proceeded to try on every style they made. Every pair was perfect. I wanted the loafer. I wanted the tallest boot. I wanted every pair in between. Then I figured it out. They were the exact same color as the melted Nutella in my crepe. The leather smelled almost as delicious as the crepe I had devoured only moments earlier. At that point I knew that I would not be leaving empty handed. After careful deliberation the decision was made. Given that available room in our luggage was scarce, I opted for the slip-ons. They had a strap that you could either slip around your heel or have over the top of the shoe. I adored them. Forever they will remind me of our lazy afternoons in Paris. Just me and Larkin and our crepes – and the world just passing us by.

patchwork-leather-heels

Red, Purple, Green & Blue Patchwork Leather Heels

Red, Purple, Green & Blue Patchwork Leather Heels

Unknown Designer
September 1993
London, England

Would you ever think to go to a bar to get your haircut? That’s exactly what I did in London. Larkin and I were at the tail end of our 3 month European adventure and we decided that there was nothing we wanted more than a haircut. Even though we would be home in California in a few days, suddenly that didn’t seem soon enough. The dead ends and vicious fly-aways were suddenly too much to handle.

It was a lazy day of shopping. After getting lost in the edible delights of Harrod’s underbelly, we took to the streets. I don’t even remember where the shopping center was, but I do vividly recall that it resembled a train station. We were enticed into a store that had large woolen sweaters the color of tomato soup hanging in the windows. After deciding that we didn’t have enough room in our luggage for two big sweaters we headed for the small but valiant shoe collection. There they were – patchwork platform heels in the warmest shades of red, purple, blue and green. The leather pieces were patched together with black zigzag stitching and the sole of the foot had seven funky groves. They were a bit clunky but I assumed they would take up less room than a sweater. Maybe.

That night I wore them out with jeans and my trusted plaid cut off shirt. On a slate of chalkboard staring straight at me “Haircut 5 pounds – Free Beer.” I thought it too good to be true. Could you really get your hair trimmed while you were sharing a pint or two with friends? Evidently. Larkin and I cautiously walked down the dark stairs. I gripped the rail as to not tumble down in my new platforms. When we reached the bottom and peeked around the corner we saw it. There sat an old fashion barber chair in the middle of the dance floor, with a barber in tow. “Have a seat,” he said gesturing at the chair. Sure enough I did. And three inches and two pints later…

leather-sandals-greece

Leather Sandals

Leather Sandals

Unknown Designer
August 1996
Athens, Greece

….. hey Macarena

It was 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning – just about the time when you aren’t quite sure if it’s still night or if morning has finally arrived. Hilary and I were just leaving Super Paradise – an amazing beach front dance party on the island of Mycanos. Hilary and our strapping new friends from New Zealand had just been skinny dipping in the Agean Sea and were all drenched for the perilous walk back to civilization. We had just reached a rocky cliff when we faintly heard in the distance – La Macarena. Along with our new found best friends we all began the motions. We knew them by heart and knew how to jiggle our hips with the best of them – especially after a few too many shots of Ouzo. We sang at the top of our lungs – with smiles beaming from our faces – we really had found paradise.

It was only 48 hours earlier when we had arrived at the airport in Athens from our seemingly endless flight from Los Angeles. It was so early in the morning that the sun hadn’t begun to rise. We didn’t know where to go from the airport at such an hour so we set our backpacks down in a corner and rested our delirious heads on them. It was cold and a little creepy but we had no other options and figured that staying put was our safest bet.

When light finally appeared and our bodies were too sore to lie on the airport floor any longer we took to town. We looked through our Lonely Planet guidebook and found what sounded like a reasonable place to stay. Unfortunately, when we got there they said they wouldn’t have a room available until 11am. That was still about three or four hours away. With no energy to explore alternatives we found a bench in a nearby plaza and resumed our horizontal positions. The four hours of waiting seemed almost as long as our flight. Finally, we were able to check in, get rid of our bags and shower. Much better.

We only had one day in Athens to see the sights before we were headed to the islands. We came to Greece for the sun but felt obligated to see a little history too. We trekked around town and saw the obligatory sights. The view from the Acropolis was spectacular. With enough culture for the day, we took to the shops. We found ourselves lusting over the magical gold and diamond jewelry. I loved the Greek designs and Hilary loved the sparkles. We went into a number of stores to try different pieces on. With our student incomes we really wouldn’t be buying anything but we were still able to dream a little, and enjoy the air conditioning too.

Empty handed, we were a little discouraged with the shopping prospects in Athens. Certainly there must be something we could buy. Sure enough. On the way back to our hotel after a magnificent feast of mousakka, I saw them in a store window – perfect leather sandals. Certainly Jackie O. must have worn a similar pair during her Grecian holidays. We stepped inside and I tried them on. They were made of subtle brown leather with a simple strap over the big toe and another with strap over the foot. Very simple. Very cute. They were mine.

gold-mary-janes

Gold Mary Janes

Gold Mary Janes

Unknown Designer
August 1996
London, England

I was ten years old when Lady Diana Spencer married her Prince. My parents let me stay up all night to watch the Princess walk down the aisle in London. I was entranced the entire night, and early morning, glued in front of the television screen wrapped up in my cheetah blanket. Practically spellbound – I wanted nothing more than to be a princess. She was my idol and I was in utter awe of the entire ceremony, her endless dress and the mass crowds lining the streets. My father was in England on business a few months later and came back with arms full of “wedding” paraphernalia for me. My favorite gift was an exact replica of Princess Diana’s sapphire and diamond engagement ring. Though one of the faux diamond stones has fallen out, I still wear it today and it always makes me feel like a princess.

After Hilary and I had spent a few weeks lounging in the Greek isles, we knew it was time to sober up and go shopping. A quick stop in London on the way home was just what we needed. My dear friend Ariana took us in and we spent three days shopping. Virtually nothing else – just shopping. We did the kind of shopping where new bags need to be purchased to carry all of the shoes, handbags and dresses home, kind of shopping.

We had just come from one of the outdoor markets when Hilary spotted a pair of sandals in a shop window that she wanted to try on. In we went. When I spotted the gold Mary Janes on a large rack downstairs, it was love at first sight. I loved the bulbous heel, the rounded toe, the thin strap and of course I loved the color. It was a soft muted gold that looked so royal. It was quick and hurried and they had them in my size. I slipped them on. Standing there looking at the mirror, I felt like a princess. I just knew I had to have them.

On August 31, 1997, I went out to 111 Minna, a gallery/club in San Francisco that was owned by a good family friend, with a few friends. It was pretty late and we had just come from dinner at a near by Mexican restaurant. The techno music was so loud that we could barely hear each other speak. There were no chairs available so we just kind of stood around and watched the eclectic array of people, young and old, grooving to the music.

Over in a corner by the bar I spotted a friend who I hadn’t seen in months. He came over and began to say something in to my ear. Over the thumping noise I couldn’t make out what he was saying. He raised his voice a little louder and still, all I could make out was “princess” and “car crash.” “What?” I yelled back in disbelief and utter confusion, shaking my head. The song came to an end just as he said, “Did you hear the news – Princess Diana was in a car crash, they think she might be dead?” I became utterly silent and still. I began asking so many questions but of course he couldn’t hear me. It was almost as if a good friend was dying. I wanted to find out more. I just wanted her to live. I was wearing my gold Mary Janes that night and my princess ring too. I guess I wanted my own fairytale to live on forever.


Saks Fifth Avenue



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