In 1970 I walked past a boutique window in the Chalfont-Haddon Hall Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey and fell in love. The object of my desire? Paul McCartney? Mick Jagger? Davey Jones? David Cassidy? No, something even better than them…the coolest, on trend, ? fashionable pair of knee-high lace up boots made of mauve suede with black grommets and laces, with a softly squared toe, and boxy heel. They were beautiful! They were Italian, they were expensive, and they were groovy!
I was smitten, enamored, besotted – utterly and completely. The suede was soft as butter. They were fab, badass, and I wanted them, very, very badly. They reminded me of Twiggy in 1960’s go-go boots and Nancy Sinatra singing “These Boots are Made for Walkin.’” I loved that song then, and still do. I was 8 years old. My passion for shoes was born.
In 1977, I celebrated my next passionate shoe moment on my 15th birthday. I was visiting my family in England when we were walking through London, where I was entirely immersed in the London vibe. My Mum treated me to my first perm and I felt so “au courant” and grown up. While browsing our way through the sales, I spotted a pair of pointed toe, high heel pumps in purple leather with a tone on tone purple textured embellishment. They were brilliant, and I simply could not take my eyes off them… For the second time in my life, I was head over heels for shoes. I fell in love. I had to have them. This time my mother agreed that these would be my first pair of adult shoes, and I was thrilled!
My perm and these heels were the beginning of my journey into adulthood. They were the foundation of a new identity I adopted as I went off to a new school. There, I wore buffalo sandals and Candies and found my place with a group of friends who self-identified as
mis-fits. Years later I learned we were the cool kids. Who knew?
I moved on to a number of serial monogamous relationships, cavorting with various iconic styles…surplus army boots, riding boots, cowboy boots, creepers, heels, platforms and gladiator sandals. The running theme through all of these relationships was constant…badass and beautiful. I was constantly drawn to the hardware used to add the sparkle and shine.
In 1985, Robert Palmer released “Addicted to Love.” His lyrics certainly rang true. In the early 2000’s I fell in love again. This time I was in Reykjavik with a group of my university students. We were studying how trends disseminated from Europe to the US and vice versa through Iceland. At this time Reykjavik was a key trend city. Icelandic music was all the rage and the world was starting to notice. The country was steeped in small business and had a growing creative economy. In addition to music, film and technology, lifestyle products were emerging.
As I passed a window with 14 students in tow, I came to a screeching halt. My inner magpie had spied something sparkly once again, a pair of gold fish skin, round toe heeled pumps. The elements of these pumps electrified every part of me… sparkle, texture and shine. My eternal love combination. The fish skin had texture, the gold provided shine, and the metal heel provided sparkle. The store was closed, but I knew I had to go back. I was already flirting with the pumps, batting my eyes, throwing my sexiest smile, telling them how dazzling they were and promising them that I would return…and the next day, I did. With tremendous anticipation, I entered the store to buy them, just as I told them I would.
They were incredibly expensive for me at the time, AND they were at least a size too big, BUT I had to have them …and I still do. They became the first pair in a growing collection of Icelandic footwear. Most, I wear, but the gold fish skin pumps are special…. because they were my first. As part of a limited production run and the brand lasted only a few seasons, so they are even more special. The crash in 08 resulted in the brand going out of business. I am one of very few people in the world who owns shoes (and boots) by Maria K. Magnussdottir.
You see, it is not always about wearing shoes. Sometimes shoes are about comfort and protection. On occasion shoes are beautiful object d’art meant to be admired, collected and put on display. For those of us who love them, shoes are symbols of who we are, who we aspire to be and who we become. Shoes reflect our dreams, our love, and our ability to admire something beautiful. Shoes empower us. As the saying goes, ”Give a girl the right pair of boots and she’ll conquer the world.”