Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Heels Are Killer in the Best Way at the Brooklyn Museum

How else can I begin except by saying I was giddy with controlled exuberance. It was as if I was alone in a world all my own (Michael Through the Looking Glass) as I stared at the encased heels all around me. These weren't just any heels though. These were “Killer Heels,” as in the ones currently on display in Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe at the Brooklyn Museum.

Have you ever taken the time to really look at a pair of high-heeled shoes? To look beyond the color, the height, and the price tag? Get that pair of your most fabulous, treasured heels out of your closet and look at them. Look at the design elements, the craftsmanship, the architectural lines, the artistry, the creativity. Okay, so maybe the heels you have in your closet are not that interesting. Maybe you see them as just simple and plain. That may be true, but let me tell you, there are shoes in this world that are pure art; as beautiful and expressive as any painting by Monet, van Gogh, or Pollock. There are even people who can and dare to wear this art. The shoes may not always be comfortable, but one can't deny they are daring, provocative, wearable art forms.

There was no denying the artistry and creativity of the gorgeous shoes I smiled at, conversed about, and kept myself from drooling over as I ambled my way through the "Killer Heels” exhibit. There were so many different eras represented. The evolution of shoes on display. The styles (platform, stiletto, boot, mule, futuristic, etc), materials (leather, cloth, wood, metal, plastic, nylon, etc) and adornments (flames, metal spikes, crystals, hair, etc) pushing the limits beyond the boundaries of what one thinks a shoe can be, should be. Who's to say what a shoe can (or can't) be, anyway? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then fashion, much like art, is subjective. 

I spoke animatedly with a young woman about the Prada Flame Wedge Sandal (Spring/Summer 2012, below). I can usually spot a Prada shoe before I see the label. They stand out in the crowd. Miuccia Prada (Prada, Miu Miu) is a designer with a unique sense of style that, for me, at least with her shoes, is instantly recognizable. I often find myself questioning where one might wear a Prada shoe (answer: anywhere one wants). But more often than not I am thrilled by their imaginative and fanciful design elements. 

Prada Wedge Sandal in Rosso, Bianco, and Nero Leather, Spring/Summer 2012
With an older lady, whom I encountered jotting down notes over a 1960 Christian Dior/Roger Vivier evening slipper for the House of Dior (below), I exchanged thoughts on the heel of said slipper. Specifically its curved design. This particular heel could be the petite grand-mère of the heel on the fall 2014 Louis Vuitton curved-heel bootie, the “shoe to covet” this fall according the September issue of Harper's Bazaar. Invention is prone to reinterpretation and everything old can be new again.

Christian Dior, Roger Vivier for House of Dior. Evening Slippers, 1960
Fashion design thrives on imagination, limit-pushing creativity, the ability to envision then actualize. It can even beg for the update of a successful design from the past as with the heel on the aforementioned Dior/Vivier slipper. The heels in “Killer Heels” are the epitome of limit-pushing creativity, vision, and artistic expression. Just look below at the Julian Hakes "Mojito," 2012.Of course they aren't going to be for everyone, but neither is every shoe at Bergdorf’s or even…Payless. 

Julian Hakes. "Mojito," 2012
I appreciate interesting shoes. Men’s shoe choices are positively bland compared to those of women’s. I try to shake things up. In my own closet there’s a pair of chocolate brown Frye boots, a pair of blue leather Chukka’s with suede at the ankle, a pair of tan leather and ivy green suede saddle Oxfords, a pair of gray Wingtips adorned with a buckle or two. Those are just a few examples. I realize we’ve come a long way in color choices from the days of black or brown, but men are still limited to more conservative shoe choices than women. In recent years, thankfully, men have been able to express themselves by choosing shoes with pops of color in the heel or by changing the color of the laces. With the later, one not only gets to let his personality shine through, he can dramatically alter the look of the shoe by blasting the tediousness with a dash of whimsy. 

(left) A SHOE CAN BE. "Heliotrope," 2013 (right) JANTAMINIAU. "Tarnished Beauty," 2012
I mentioned the word personality in connection with shoes above. Personality is a great word to describe most, if not all, of the shoes in the "Killer Heels" exhibit. The inanimate objects of my admiration had so much personality they could rival some people. Shoes can be the centerpiece of an outfit. They can be the only bit of outrageousness in a beautifully tailored, but otherwise dull ensemble. I know I’ve been known to build an outfit around a pair of shoes. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we all felt the freedom to let our personality run wild on our feet? Choose the height, choose the color, choose the style and design. If it makes you happy own it, then make the sidewalk your runway.

Maybe you’re a worshiper at the house of Blahnik or Louboutin, a lover of fantastical shoes, have a shoe fetish. Or maybe you’re merely interested in seeing shoes that aren't readily available just anywhere. If any of that sounds like you, then get thee to the Brooklyn Museum. You've got until February 15, 2015. Trust me when I tell you you don’t have to be wearing them to be lifted to their heights. 

Roger Vivier. "Rose N' Roll," Fall 2012

Friday, October 17, 2014

This Frustration Needs a One-Two Punch of Patience

My frustration bores through the ceiling and fills the attic before it pushes it's way through the roof and permeates the atmosphere. I'm afraid I might be the causing damage to the ozone layer. If I had to attach a color to this frustration it would be baby shit yellow. 

Here I sit at the airport in Paducah, Kentucky. It's a small regional airport with typically two departures and two arrivals per day. Chicago's O'Hare is the origination and destination of the plane that services Paducah. I can't remember the last time I flew in to or out of Paducah when there wasn't some sort of a delay—weather in Chicago most often being the culprit. This trip, however, air traffic is the cause. Due to a fire in Chicago that severely damaged an air traffic control tower, air traffic in and out of O'Hare is severely affected. Six days ago the plane that would take me to Paducah couldn't get into O'Hare from Indiana due to congestion in the air. Today the plane, which sits on the Tarmac in Paducah just beyond the door I'm refusing to stare at, can't fly into Chicago due to congestion. Wouldn't it be nice if we could offer the friendly skies a DayQuil that allowed for freer flying with no congestion? But alas, there is no pill for that. Not even in Sky Mall Magazine. The only thing to do is surrender to the seat in the waiting area and remember that this is beyond anyone’s control—mine, the TSA workers in Paducah, the air traffic controllers in Chicago. This delay is for our safety, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. 

A major frustration that is in the control of the TSA agents in Paducah is the security gate. They have a flight that is delayed by an hour and 15 minutes, but we the travelers have to be through security by 3pm because that's when they close the gate. That would be fine if the flight was still at 3pm, but it isn't still at 3pm. It's delayed to 4:15(ish)pm. So we have to say goodbye to our families and sit on the other side of the security gate for an hour while we wait to board our delayed flight. I shouldn't complain. I mean I realize the flight could have been cancelled. Delayed will still get me there. But it won't get me there in time to make my connecting flight. That is frustrating. Instead of getting home around 10pm it will be after midnight. Still nothing to really complain about. On the positive, at least there was a later flight with a seat available (a window, my least favorite. Beggars. Choosers) so I won't have to spend the night in Chicago. 

None of the above airport frustration has anything to do with the yellow, ozone-damaging frustration that started this piece. That frustration has left me discouraged for a different reason. It's a frustration that was born out of an inability to communicate. There are times when I try and take my knowledge (the best having been learned from prior experiences) and use it to try and understand a situation, to try and make a situation better. When I did that very thing this morning I was left shaking my head at my inability to connect in a way that was beneficial for either party. I was left, for lack of a better word, frustrated. I felt myself fighting anger, wanting to shut down, getting quiet. My lips were in a perpetual state pursedness. 

I wanted to connect—needed to. I wanted to be smart, clever, find a way in. I wanted to be a problem solver. I wanted to be someone who could be trusted. Maybe it's not the right time for that.

Then I realized that so much of my present situation was about me and not the person I was trying to help. I was seeing a younger version of me. I was frustrated by the actions of the other person, yes. But I was also frustrated that those actions were reflecting my former selfacting out, wanting attention, sensitive feelings—back at me. Along with my frustration, my present day self was getting in touch with his jealousy. What!? Jealousy? Yes. There was a freedom present that I never experienced. So yes, Jealousy! Reactions change. Age softens people. I was holding on tightly to my past.  Cue Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.” 

Ultimately, I realize I was trying to help myself by helping this other person. I can't control the other person I was trying to help, but I can control my response to the actions. Life is a learning process. I'm continuing to learn from my past mistakes and my present mistakes. 

Frustration is a part of life. I encounter it every day. The thing is, I need to figure out how to keep it from weighing me down. I love my Tiffany key, but it's the only thing I want to wear around my neck. Frustration is cumbersome and neither pretty nor optimal. Bitching about its effects is neither beneficial nor productive. I need to figure out how to let go of it and, even as my mind continues to work on a solution, not let it make me angry, stress me out. I'm thinking it's going to take patience, which is something I struggle with finding daily.

I think I'll ponder that as I sit alone in the boarding area in the Paducah airport waiting to board that plane that's waiting to take me home. The only thing in my control is the frustration. It's time to let my pursed lips return to normal, let the knot in my chest release. After all, when has frustration caused anybody anything but added stress...and wrinkles?