Sally Hall: The heart and sole of women’s relationship with their shoes

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‘Give a girl the right shoes,’ said Marilyn Monroe, ‘And she can conquer the world.’

As Marilyn would no doubt have agreed, a woman’s shoe collection represents a peephole to her soul (or should that be sole?).

All her passions are there – the walking boots, neoprene surf socks, knee-highs for riding.

Then there’s the chores that make up her daily life – battered old trainers for dog-walking, wellies for weeding, slippers for curling up by the fire.

Sensible courts represent long days at the office. A cute pair of T-bars are perfect for Sunday lunch at the pub.

And then there’s the shoes she’s never worn....

We’ve all got a pair. Wrapped in satin or encrusted with jewels; vixen red, spiky-heeled...whatever their accoutrements, these shoes are not made for walking.

Take a peek at those peep-toes.

Every now and again, they’ll be lifted out of their protective tissue paper and modelled in front of the mirror.

But unless the lady is set to be lifted out of her home on a palanquin, she will not be crossing the threshold with those beauties on her feet.

Not even on New Year’s Eve.

There will be plenty of eye-bogglingly skyscraping stilettoes clip-clopping through the streets of Leeds tonight; enough to bring any conscientious health and safety inspector out in a cold sweat.

(No doubt at least 10 admissions to A&E over the next 24 hours will be directly attributable to wonky wedges or other footwear malfunctions.)

But it just goes to show that every woman’s threshold is different. Whereas my ‘never to be worn’ fantasy footwear is a fairly sensible pair of emerald green high-heeled peep-toes, the showstoppers who’ll be strutting their stuff in six-inch doozies tonight must have some truly twisted Cinderella slippers squirreled away at the back of their shoedrobe.

A woman’s relationship with her footwear is more complex and nuanced than some would imagine – and more revealing.

Something that designer Sebastian Errazuriz knows well.

The artist has drawn on the pain and pleasures of his past relationships to create an artistic collection Carrie Bradshaw would have swooned over; immortalising 12 of his lovers in the form of shoes.

Detailed in full on his blog, 12 Shoes for 12 Lovers, the 28-year-old’s collection is aesthetically impressive as well as being cheeky, cute and revealing.

Shoe number four tells the story of heart-breaker Laura, who left the artist to marry someone else. A blood-red heeled court, the shoe is pierced through with an arrow.

A honey-comb wedge made of yellow plastic mesh was chosen to represent ‘Honey’ Natasha, who was so sweet that Errazuriz had to dump her.

Then there’s the icicles hanging frostily off a white court shoe that indicates the hauteur of ‘Ice Queen’ Sophie – shoe number five.

Other shoes in the collection include the sexually gung-ho GI Jane (with a toy soldier perched on the tip), Jet-Setter Jessica (with an airplane-shaped stilleto), and a white pair of wedges that represent a woman who lost her virginity to Errazuriz (including a Madonna whose flowing robes form a very solid heel).

Although he claims all the shoes in his collection are wearable, Errazuriz didn’t create anything resembling the comfy brogues (with a well-worn instep and signs of a careful cobbler’s attention) that I would picture as suitably representative footwear for myself.

In reality, very few of us are ever likely be depicted by an artist ex in shoe form. But one thing is certainly true.

There will be plenty of ladies for whom tonight’s party shoes will not be going back in the cupboard until after tomorrow’s ‘walk of shame’.

Sarah Champion MP

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