Let's rewind to 2006 when these screencaps dominated our world. Actually in some quarters of the internetz, they still do. Manolo Blahnik's frill-edged, tassel-adorned and ribbon-bound creations for Sofia Coppola's film Marie Antoinette has spawned countless Tumblr/Pinterest/fashion blog posts as well as shoe tributes in the handcrafted world of Etsy. If not for wearing, they endure as fantastical images to look at, gorge upon and savour as dreamer girl image fodder.
Even the real shebang – i.e. Marie Antoinette's actual shoes, inspired fetish of gargantuum proportions when they went to auction recently, with one singular pair fetching EUR50,000.
These two shoe finds which almost mirror those memorable Coppola screencaps have to be credited to Elle Decor, which I'm now buying for my newly found obsession for all things interior. They were smart enough t o pick up on this very Italiano collaboration between traditional shoe brand Santoni and the Venetian high-grade fabric manufacturer Rubelli. Founded in 1858, this well known Venetian brand has been producing the most exquisite fabrics. This capsule collection of slippers and brogues for both men and women is an ode to a bygone elaborate Venetian baroque style, with the use of traditional lampas floral patterns, as well as nodding to the famed Italian architect Gio Ponti with the velvet pointillist pattern, designer in 1934. It's pleasurable to be able to use words like "lampas" – the go-to technique of French shabby chic, achieved by metallic weft threads woven into different weaves on silk satin. In the pastel triumvirate of baby blue, candy floss pink and pistachio green, it's a win-win situation for the eyes as well as the feet. The comparably more subdued Puntaggiato "dotty" fabric designed by Gio Ponti is reserved for the men to get decadent with their footwear. A few of the styles are currently available on Santoni's online boutique, alongside some limited edition shoe boxes, covered in Rubelli's famous fabrics. If you've got time to kill, Rubelli's website is an exhaustive fabric resource where you can search back to designs from the eighties. The promise of a brilliant physical archive has prompted an idea for a little trip to Venice should time permit.
Manolo Blahnik is the more obvious go-to shoe designer for the delicate matter of mules, kitten heels and half-slippers but as an alternative, I'm finding these creations by Les Chaussons de la Belle quite charming. I say "quite charming" with an Austen tone of voice by the way. They seem to be the fanciful creations of a Giuliana Venerosi Pesciolini, who uses the Italian manufacturer Lanzoni & B to facilitate production. The references are clear – Fragonard paintings, 18th century belles such as Madame de Pompadour and Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire and their excessive spending on apparel. Shapes such as the low-heeled half slippers appear to be derived directly from those 18th century petite chassures. For the modern feet, they're just a step further away from the fully enclosed gentlemen's slippers that have flooded the flats section in the last year or so. Les Chaussons de la Belle uses silk moir√©s, cotton jacquards and silks, sourced from – yup, you guessed it – Rubelli. I'm particularly entranced by the pastel stripes and chintzy Colefax & Fowler-esque florals. You don't need me to lay on the hyperboles though when it comes to persuading us of these feet creations. Pesciolini herself sets a hilarious scene for us to imagine. If this isn't a life of leisure, I don't know what is:
"The point (most important, and often dangerously forgotten!) is feeling beautiful over breakfast. Ladies, how do we want to be remembered… from down? Think sliding with delicious ease into these Watteau-esque boudoir slippers wearing a whisper of silk and lace… A private, awfully chic elegance. Our chaussons and bags follow you from a marriage in Tuscany to glamorous Park Avenue cocktail parties, from tea under the palm trees to a fairy night‚Äôs ball. And dinner √† deux, of course! Oh yes, men love them."
The shoe designer's words, not mine.