Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Red Sandals

I know, I know, this is a hat blog.  But, in all fairness, Yves St. Laurent takes precedence to everything right now.  It's taken a few days to settle in, but it's true.  He's gone, in body.  We're left with the name, the style, the passion for invention, for creativity that the name represents.
After all, hats were always a part of St. Laurent collections...just ask Elaine Stritch. He re-invented Chanel's boater, interpreted the Hippie floppy brim hat of the 1960's and 70's, added patterned silk to spark up a Russian chapka.  but it's not the hats of those years I remember...it's the sandals.  They happened the year I graduated from college and came to New York instead of going on my Grand Tour of Europe.  My girlfriend Ruthie had just lost her father, a warm and wonderful guy, and so our well-planned trip to Paris and beyond , slotted for the summer after graduation, became a moot point.  Her family was from Babylon, Long Island, and so I opted for sticking close to my home in Philadelphia, as an emotional support for her.  Europe was not going to happen that summer, so I came to New York and did what every redblooded college girl should do:  I went shopping.  In a major way.  Gucci became a mainstay reference point for kicking off each morning, deciding on which bag to go with which loafer.  My mother got presents, my grandmother got presents, I got presents.
Then I found the sandals.  Maybe in Saks, maybe in Bendel's...the geographic location of where isn't as relevant as the emotional impact they caused in my hippie heart.  Up to then, it had been my buffalo hide platforms, and  indian print dresses....at that moment, I became a young lady.  How things change in a blink of a credit card! Warm red leather, on a slight stacked leather platform, slingback......they became my uniform shoe.  Yves St. Laurent had just transformed my life, my closet, with a shoe!  College had been a whirlwind of commune, our store, el K-rajo, and oh, yes,  classes.  New York was now my tornado of choice.  Alana, a brilliant  graphic artist, and friend, took me under her wing and carted me around to design houses, looking at line, proportion, Studio 54.  Store windows were celebrating the moment (there was a motorcycle in the window of Henri Bendel!...cool!), fashion was becoming youthful, and St. Laurent had bridged that cultural  gap across the universe of couture and street.
Onto the second pair of sandals:  pale aqua patent leather, straps barely hanging onto my feet, worn as wardrobe in videos, worn to dance on the rooftop of Le Jardin , worn as a badge of graduation.  The little hippie had morphed into what would become her own mix of vintage clothing, couture and street.  And this was 1972.
Thank you, Monsieur.  God speed.

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