My husband, He Who Cooks, has this theory that you should surround yourself with people that enrich your life. Professor Alison Young (aka @scotinoz) falls into this category. Probably the finest film and law scholar in the world her street art blog Images to Live By has completely changed the way that I look at the city that I live in. More importantly, but for her I would never have come across the Fluevog phenomena – Unique Soles for Unique Souls. Alison has a new book out on Routledge Cavendish on 23 November 2009 Visions of Violence: Cinema, Crime, Affect_____________________________________________________________________________________
I share a number of things in common with this blog’s author: I’m a lawyer (although I’m a legal academic rather than a practising lawyer), I’m originally from Paisley, I share a fascination with the Donoghue v Stevenson case, I moved to Australia, and I also love shoes (although I’ve never been able to get the hang of wearing proper heels, to my great disappointment, on which more follows).
This post is about shoes rather than anything else, and it’s about two particular pairs of shoes. In fact, it’s a bit of a love song to the shoes of John Fluevog. If you know these shoes already, then you will understand what I’m talking about. If you’re not familiar with his work, have a look at his website to see his beautiful designs.
I discovered this shoes in a really roundabout and long-and-drawn-out way. I spent a few months in New York City back in the mid 1990s, and I noticed the Fluevog shop then – but I never went in (how I wish I had). And then, many years later in 2004, I was living in a small town in Massachusetts for a year, and met Jill, who was also visiting for a year, and who had many wonderful pairs of shoes and boots, a lot of which turned out to be Fluevogs. Once again, I didn’t buy any on that trip, but just matched in my head the name (which I had remembered from all those years back) with the gorgeous reality of the shoes.
And then, last year, when I was visiting San Francisco, I happened to see a Fluevog store on Haight Street. I went in, I tried a few pairs on, I was hooked. On that occasion, I bought a mary jane style shoe called the ‘Fellowship’ – black with cream detailing, small heel, but very, very cool.
But the Fellowship shoe isn’t one of the ones I want to feature here. I now own three pairs of Fluevogs, having discovered that a shop in Melbourne stocks them. In July this year, I had a few days annual leave, and was wandering around the laneways in the city. I went into a little shop called Sole Devotion, to discover many, many pairs of Fluevogs on their shelves. I spent a happy time trying on lots of different styles, and then a less happy time agonising about which to buy. My intention was to buy just the one pair – these shoes are not cheap, sadly, and it was with a trembling hand that I gave over my credit card in order to purchase two pairs.
Here’s what I bought. The ‘Tiff’ brogue:
And the ‘Gracias’ shoe:
One reason I couldn’t decide between the two pairs is that they really are opposites, both in terms of shoe style, and in appealing to different aspects of how I see myself. The Tiff brogues, when I wear them, feel like they might be worn by someone in Berlin, or some other fabulously cool city. This boot is kick-arse, tough-nut, super-cool, and when I wear it, it immediately hardens up anything I’m wearing. (And people who know me would instantly agree that I am not in any way a tough-nut super-cool type; fact, I am someone who needs any and all the help I can get in that respect.)
The Gracias shoe, on the other hand, appeals to the part of me that wishes she could wear heels. I’m always in flats, never learned to walk in wedges, stilettos, or anything glamorous. You could give me a pair of Manolos and I’d be unable to wear them. But I’d heard about how Fluevog had designed something called the ‘wherever’ heel, which allows even someone like me to wear a heel and not be crippled at the end of a day’s walking around. The heel is slightly splayed at the bottom, looking a bit like a kitten heel, but with a rubber base which acts as a sort of ‘shock absorber’ when walking. In addition to that, the inside of the shoe is constructed so that there’s support for the arch of the foot. The olive-green leather comes high over the top of the foot (which helps keep the shoe on, so you don’t have to scrunch up your toes when you’re walking), and there’s a clever cut-out section on the side which makes your foot look slimmer. It’s a beautiful shoe.
Sounds too good to be true? Well, I can vouch for the fact that they really do work – I’ve worn them all day at work, and they felt amazing. Better than that, I felt amazing – taller, cooler, more elegant (a whole new me). These are not shoes for stomping around the city streets, like the Tiffs, but they are the shoes which allow me to pretend there’s glamour in my life, even in the midst of the monotony of teaching, school pick-up, washing the dishes, the whole daily routine.
Buying full-priced Fluevogs isn’t something I’ll be able to do very often (I’ll be keeping a keen eye on upcoming sales, and on eBay) but, as you can probably tell, there’s nothing about these purchases that I could possibly regret: they are shoes which both transform and confirm one’s sense of self.