Thursday, January 2, 2014

Elizabeth Mawson, Elena Dawson

I first saw the musical Anne of Green Gables when I was three, sitting on my mother's lap.  I watched it every summer onward, eventually working front of house one summer (and performing with the cast in the end-of-summer fundraiser), and, decades later, taking my children to see it.

Ninety-nine percent of the Marilla performances I saw were played by the superb mezzo soprano Elizabeth Mawson.  Though "Marilla" wore a tight little schoolmarmish bun, simple, functional clothes, and sensible shoes on the farm, when she sang, she soared, all vibrato and gorgeous tone.

I thought of Elizabeth Mawson when I discovered Elena Dawson shoes the other day.  Firstly, and most obviously, their names rhyme, but also, Elena Dawson designs the kinds of shoes that Marilla would not wear, though she could.

Dawson helped my new crush, Paul Harnden, establish and expand his clothing line and she eventually left him to develop her own label. Her vision is eccentric shabby; certainly a bit of chimney chic with a dollop of Miss Havisham.

Elena Dawson makes me crave mules, and I think that mules are better relegated to the late 80s, early 90s, where they belong.  But these mules, all ripped ribbon, torn tulle flowers, and messy edges, have such an appealing sense of being lived in by a storybook, historical character that I cannot resist.

I also LOVE how she reimagines shoelaces. Following the example of baker's twine that wraps up pastry boxes, Dawson wraps her shoes.  It's totally impractical, however, and wildly appealing (to me).

And after telling my eight-year-old son every day to tie his shoelaces so they don't get dirty, it's a bemusedly welcome aesthetical kick in the pants to sully one's ties intentionally.

No comments: