Friday, March 28, 2008

The Culture of Designer Shoes--Imelda Marcos-The Most Famous Shoe Collector of all time

Imelda Marcos in her shoe museum

Any real Shoe Maven would be remiss if she didn’t acknowledge the most infamous shoe collector of the 20th Century, Imelda Marcos, former first lady of the Philippines and widow of the late exiled president, Ferdinand Marcos.

Whatever your politics concerning the Marcos’ (I’m speaking to those who remember the political turmoil of the excessive 1980’s) one thing remains clear: Mrs. Marcos was a shoe diva to be remembered. So much so, that the media made mention of her ‘thousands of pairs of shoes’ on a regular basis.

Indeed, Mrs. Marcos traveled the world regularly acquiring the perfect shoe to accentuate her extensive wardrobe. Noted names such as Ferragamo, Givenchy, and Chanel adorned her famous size 8 ½ feet. Constantly in the public eye, (even through political upheaval) she never missed a fashionable beat. Mrs. Marcos was clearly drawn to all things beautiful and in her own words describes the social culture of her people. “Filipinos don’t wallow in what is miserable and ugly. They recycle the bad into things of beauty.”1

Still strikingly beautiful at the age of 77, Mrs. Marcos is the founder of the Marikina City Footwear Museum in Manila, where hundreds of the shoes she wore during her reign as first lady are on display. Officials at the Museum are hoping to attract even more tourism to what is already known as the “shoe capital of the Philippines.”2

The Marikina district employs around 200,000 people for the manufacturing of shoes and has roads featuring such street names as Sandal Street and Slipper Street.3

Mrs. Marcos has undoubtedly left her indelible mark on her country, albeit the world. A woman of culture, style, beauty, and grace, Fa’Shoe’Nista! acknowledges the fashion sense of Imelda Marcos, ultimate Shoe Maven of the 20th Century.


1. BBC News/ASIA-PACIFIC – Homage to Imelda’s shoes; article, February 16, 2001.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.

In her own words:

“What’s wrong with shoes? I collected them because it was like a symbol of thanksgiving and love.”—Associated Press article, in The Eye, November 1997

“I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes; I had one thousand and sixty.”—1987

From the Wit and Wisdom of Imelda Marcos–www.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


photo courtesy of Splendora

Sarah Jessica Parker was mugged for hers in an episode of “Sex and the City,” and they’ve been featured in the Romance Classics cable network special “Women and Shoes: A love story.”1

Okay, I admit it, I'm obviously partial to this man's creations. As far as I'm concerned, Manolo Blahniks are the ‘Rolls Royce’ of shoes; an extension of the monumental creative wellspring of the man himself.

The first time I encountered the popular high-end designer shoes was in April of 2000. I was in my bedroom reading a feature fashion piece on the shoes in a local paper. In the article, there was a suburban socialite contemplating purchasing a pair of the very feminine Carolyne sling-backs (named after New York socialite, Carolyne Roehm).2 Ultimately, she decided against the $445.00 purchase, and I remember thinking to myself (as I drooled over the picture) that I probably would have been unable to exercise such restraint.

As an artist, I can’t help but to admire the designer’s total involvement with the design process. From its inception Blahnik does his own drawings, which are considered museum quality works of art. He chisels the wooden mould on which the shoes are to be formed, and sculpts the heel himself, all without the help of an assistant or an apprentice. Blahnik is even involved in his own advertising campaigns. The culmination is a most magnificent finished product.

Born in 1942 in the Canary Islands, Blahnik grew up on a banana plantation with his Czech father, his Spanish mother, and his younger sister, Evangelina. Both he and his sibling received a local education rather than being shipped away to school. Reading materials often consisted of his mother’s fashion magazines (US Vogue, Glamour, and Silhuetos) along with children’s comic books. It would certainly seem that the designer came by his craft naturally. Often he would watch as his mother made Catalan espadrilles from ribbons and laces, a craft she gleaned from the local Canary Islands cobbler. 3

Told to “go make shoes” by then editor of US Vogue, Diana Vreeland, the designer began with men’s shoes, but soon found this endeavor limiting. After receiving an invitation in 1972 to design shoes for another designer’s collection, Blahnik was well on his way. Vogue editors and celebrities alike began craving his creations. After finding a reliable manufacturer to interpret his vision of style and technical precision, the eclectic designer was able to perfect his craft. The beauty of the man himself was not lost on many a fashion editor, and in 1974 Blahnik became the first male to appear on the cover of British Vogue.4 And while he has only a few stores that bear his name (one in London, another in New York), his shoes are carried in fine stores throughout the world.

Without a doubt, Manolo Blahnik has secured his place in the recesses of our fashion psyche. As such, the 64 years old, dangerously handsome designer has forced every self-proclaimed style maven to expand her wish list. Now, merely reaping that perfect career, dream home, and knight in shining armour can only pale in comparison to the ultimate victory: acquiring that perfect pair of Manolo’s. Clearly, for us, it is more than a minor obsession.