5/05/2012

Shoes of the Stars


My memory of shoes is a bit spotty as I am not a shoe enthusiast. But I think I might have owned a pair of Ferragamo in my past life. It was either a hand-me-down from a rich friend who has a private warehouse of expensive hordes, or bought dirt-cheap at a closing-out sale. 

Salvatore Ferragamo, Italian shoe designer, was a byword during my mother's youth. I first heard his name when my mom and Auntie Ruth were talking about their favorite Hollywood stars and how these glamorous women wore nothing but handmade footwear by Ferragamo.

To name a few: Sophia Loren, Gene Tierney, Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, the Duchess of Windsor and other nameless heiresses and celebrities. 

Because Aunt Ruth was single, beautiful, and oh-so-fashionable, she had a few pairs of Ferragamo shoes. I still had no concept of money then so I was clueless on how much they cost. From her I learned that Ferragamo was an innovator—both scientific  and creative in his approach to cobbling.

Today there are many new names in luxurious shoes, and I only know some of them from magazines ads.  I buy inexpensive, comfortable footwear because I think luxurious, branded ones are a waste of money. (Okay, I'm cheap.) But when it comes to brand recall, for me Ferragamo is top-of-mind.  

When I saw this bigger-than-life sculpture of a Ferragamo shoe in a museum in Singapore, I was led down memory lane. It was specially made for Judy Garland  in 1938, before I was even conceived.

A quick research on Ferragamo showed me a photo of this same shoe on several websites. Wow, it must have been a sensation in those days!  

I also discovered that this shoe-crazed man invented the classic styles of footwear (copied by younger designers over the years) that will probably be with us forever: the wedge heel, the stiletto heel, the cage heel, the cork heel, the invisible straps, and the outlandish multi-colored sandals. 

Funny how some seemingly insignificant items like the huge Ferragamo shoes can spark a flashback to something so familiar in the past, evoking fond memories of events, people and places.

Perhaps that's how grace works sometimes. It reminds us that every experience enriches the way we are—the  way we look at things.

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