Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

The Extravagant Gesture October 10, 2008

Filed under: Fashionista Files,Now Looky Here — rebmas03 @ 2:19 am
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The shoe, but imagine it in a pearly sky blue.

The shoe, but imagine it in a pearly sky blue.

My friend Dawn is a woman of extravagant gestures. She makes a decent living as a graphic designer and has made some good real estate investments, but she’s not rolling in it, per se. Yet she never buys cheap. Once or twice a year, she will set out to do her clothes shopping, and it’s never an inexpensive expedition. I have to admire her for this, because we probably spend the same amount of money on shopping each year, but my closet is crammed with all sorts of impulsive purchases. Hers is filled only with items she adores passionately, and there’s a high tariff for the right to hang in her closet. Let’s just say she knows true love when she sees it. Meanwhile, I’m thinking every toad could be a prince.

Dawn does her research thoroughly and she often knows exactly what it is that she’s looking for long before she ever sets foot in a store. Well, she had set her sites on the shoe shown above and nothing was going to stop her.

If you are ever going to stride into Prada’s flagship Soho store, you want to do it with Dawn. She has the diva presence down pat, being 100% Trinidian princess, and in no time she had three store employees entranced and running through the boutique trying to find those shoes. She had the ad—the problem was they didn’t have the shoe yet. They tried to persuade her that there were other shoes that were just as good, but no other shoe would do. I picked up a floor model, turned it over, and gasped: $1000. Although I’ve certainly run up that sort of receipt, I could not even begin to imagine spending it on one pair of shoes.

As it turned out they had one pair, a sample that was on the floor mannaquin. Well, it may not happen at H&M, but you can bet your bootie that when you are plopping down a grand, those shoes were off the mannequin in no time flat. Problem: They were samples, not made to be worn, and the heel architecture was wobbly. Dawn was distraught in a very funny and charming way—she’s the sort of person who can say the most outrageous things and get away with it.

Suddenly, the manager appeared with a pair in the most gorgeous sky blue. “And when exactly were you planning to bring those out?” Dawn demanded. He sheepishly said that they were sitting on a high shelf, as a display. To all of our relief, they were perfect. Sale made. Now, I know why I never got a sales person to so much as raise an eyebrow at me in Prada. I could never stomach paying the price of admission, but for Dawn the joy that these shoes would give her was priceless (she was already imagining the openings and galas that they would attend together)

And I can tell you that if you want every clerk in every pricey boutique in Soho grovelling at your feet, just try walking around with a super-sized Prada shopping bag. For me, THAT was priceless.


These boots are made for …? August 22, 2008

Filed under: Fashionista Files,Now Looky Here — rebmas03 @ 1:58 am
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I’m not sure why I love shoes so much. Maybe it’s because I can’t make them. I can make my clothes, but I cannot make shoes. So they fascinate me.

It all started innocently enough when I was checking out the Chloe site’s Fall ’08 collection. Every model was wearing these forest-green, peep-toed, wrap-up, super-high boots—with pants, skirts, dresses—and they all looked fabulous. I had to have them. But if you know anything about Chloe boots, unless you luck upon them at Century 21, they are a pretty penny indeed. And if they are in season, they won’t be at Century 21.

I reasoned that certainly such a gorgeous boot as this would be all over e-bay. You know, someone gets a hold of them somehow (we won’t say how, let’s just leave it at “falling off the truck…”), and the next thing you know, it’s for sale on e-bay. I don’t know why I would have such an unrealistic expectation. It’s not like I’d had this experience over and over again, especially with a current item featured on a designer’s web site.

But I was born with this peculiar sort of ESP. I have a positively eerie radar for sales and hard-to-find bargains. This is not the case for me with lottery tickets, ailing friends or tragic incidents—only clothing and accessories. I went on over there to e-bay and wouldn’t you know that there was one pair sitting right there in my size at 60% off. I know that you are gasping in disbelief, but it was true. The problem was that the seller had no history. None. This was the only item that she had ever sold. Oh, the agony. Should I take the risk? I mean, this had to be destiny. I wrote to the seller, and she sent back a very sane note that she was a fashion stylist and these had been purchased for a music video shoot. It all seemed so reasonable and perfect. I bit the bullet, made the bid, and three hours after midnight, they were mine. Our fate together was sealed.

The boots actually arrived, much to my surprise, and I suddenly realized that I was the owner of a bargain pair of very expensive, tall, green elf-boots. The heel has got to be at least 5 inches. And while they fit, what will I wear them with? They require a gazelle to be carried off with any sort of dignity, and it’s definitely not office gear. The outfit below shows the boots in black, and it’s fairly reasonable attire. But in reality, that leather wrap is insanely challenging to tie up the leg, unless you have a stylist dressing you. Throw in the green, and suddenly, as shown on the site, purple tights are de riguer. I’m going to put my best effort into it, and if worst comes to worst, I’ll have a pair of really cool boots that I can pull out of the closet and gaze at passionately once in a while. I still love them, even if I’ll never wear them. I mean, look at them. How could you not love them. I’m going to go pick them up from the Russian shoe guy right now.

By the way, I’m told that there is a class for making shoes at the MAKE Workshop, so maybe that will be my next step, no pun intended. Or the shoe design sequence at FIT. You just may find me there with my cobbler tools.


No shoe for you! August 20, 2008

Filed under: Fashionista Files,Now Looky Here — rebmas03 @ 3:58 am
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I wonder if I’m the only person in the world who heard about the 65% off 65% sale at Bloomingdale’s at my favorite literary mall, Walt Whitman in Huntington Station, Long Island. Because I swear, I was the only person shopping there. It was like my own personal sale at my own personal mall. I guess my competition had tanning booth conflicts. And of course, nowhere did I do more damage than the shoe department. I’m not normally so rash, but who can resist those sort of prices. We’re talking Stuart Weitzman, Tori Burch, Michael Kors, Cole Haan….

Naturally, being freshly endowed with a bevy of designer shoes and newly graduated from my previous Nine West wardrobe, I needed to give my shoes the proper start for treading the rough Manhattan sidewalks. As every good shoe owner knows, taps are a must.

Normally, I would just go to the Russian guy over in the Clark Street station. He’s cheap and doesn’t give me any problems. But I don’t really trust him with the new cache. Shoes do have a way of disappearing at his hole-in-the-wall shop, and I just can’t risk that with this once-in-a-lifetime loot. So I load up my newly acquired treasure and head to the very high-maintenance and much more expensive shoe guy on Montague Street. This shoe guy is very, very discriminating. First off, cash up front. And it’s not cheap. That’s if he’ll even accept you. One gets the feeling that at any point, if he takes a sudden dislike to you and your shoes, it’s gonna turn out like the soup guy on Seinfeld. “No Shoe For You!” But I also know that if he accepts my shoes, they will get only the best care. It’s kind of like getting your kid into a good New York City private school.

Tonight, such rejection wasn’t even an option, for the expensive shoe guy also keeps summer hours and closes promptly. I was five minutes too late, burdened as I was with two full Bloomingdale’s Brown Bags, plus a box of ankle booties tucked under one arm. No shoe for me.

I realized with anguish that I would not only have to hike two long blocks to the cheap shoe guy, who may not even be open, but that I would also have to trust him with my new shoes. By the time I arrived, it was almost seven, but he was still open, barely. He’s no diva, but I could see that he was not happy to see me arrive with my 10 pairs. He looked my first pair, a delicately pointed black Stuart Weitzman pump, with complete disdain. “How much this shoe?” he asked. “$300,” I said. His eyes widened. “Well, I mean originally,” I amended, fearing that my shoes would disappear into the black market, “I paid $50.”

He looked at the other nine pairs lined up and his eyes narrowed. “You European?” “No, not at all!” (I am about as far from a European as it’s possible to get—I’m Midwestern.) “Why?” I ask. “They buy, come here, buy lots of shoes.” “No, I just found a very good sale, but don’t tell my husband.” That last directive completely confused him. Did the cheap shoe guy have a wife? Did he care how many shoes she bought?

From there we moved onto the treatment for each shoe. Now the expensive shoe guy doesn’t get involved, unless it’s a matter of shoe-repair principle (at which point, get ready to burn some cash).  But this guy had opinions. He wanted me to resole every shoe, insisting that the original, unprotected sole would wear down and I would also slip-slide dangerously around town. “I only wear these shoes once a month, at most,” I said. “I don’t need new soles.” But he would not back down, intuiting, no doubt, that I would sooner give in than have to carry these shoes back home. Finally we compromised on him resoling four pairs at $17/pair, adding taps to five at $6/pair and rejecting two entirely. And he insisted that I come back the next day, as he didn’t have room for all my shoes. I agreed and even had to pay in advance. So my question is, if my cheap shoe guy is turning diva and expensive on me, what does that mean for the high-maintenance shoe guy? It’s as if the whole shoe-repair world has gone out of balance, like when the frogs run out of gnats to eat and the whole eco-system upends.

As I packed up my rejected shoes to leave, the cheap shoe guy pulled out a plastic-wrapped bracelet from under the counter. “You like jewelry?,” he asked with a black-market leer.

Now I really do wonder if I’ll ever see my shoes again.