Sunday, October 13, 2013
Having a Ball with Old Masters and Valentino Shoes
I was working in Canada at an embassy (I wrote dinner speeches for the ambassador) during the eight months between earning my BA and beginning graduate school (I graduated in December) and was invited to a ball.
Yes, a ball.
I had a dress already, but for ball-appropriate shoes I turned to the pages of Vogue and saw, in an advert, a pair of black lace heels by Valentino. I called up the boutique in New York and asked them to send me a pair (this was eons before the Internet). To give you a better sense of how prehistoric the times were, I may even have sent a money order in US dollars, as I do not think I had a credit card at the time.
Still more curious: either I did not seem to know what size of shoes I wore, because the pair that arrived turned out to be a half-size smaller than what I should wear, or European sizes run small and narrow. I think the latter.
I paid for Federal Express shipping, but the shoes just did not arrive. And did not arrive. The day before the ball, I called up Fed Ex and learned that the shoes were delayed in customs. Is that--umm--customary?
At about 4:55 on the night of the ball, I was at my desk at the embassy when the ambassador's chauffeur came running up, all a-flush, with a box in his hands. If I remember, a small crowd gathered as I opened the packaging, then the Valentino shoebox, and lifted the lace shoes from their tissue paper.
These "old masters" adverts from Valentino, with the richly designed still-lifes, remind me of the tactile pleasure of those shoes. You could certainly have a ball in these clothes.