Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Hunt for the Perfect Special Occasion Shoe

Have I mentioned the big event coming up for us this summer?  No?  Well, this summer we will be taking an incredible journey with gods, demigods, giants, dragons, dwarves, flying horses, magic swords and water nymphs.  Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) thrusts you into a wild world of lust, anger, love and hate, adultery and incest, murder, death and destruction, and a wronged woman’s final revenge.  It’s a helluva ride. 

 
Wagner's Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, Germany - Photo by Rico Neitzel 
We’ve been on this ride many times before.  Dan and I are among the hard core “Ring Nuts” who’ll go anywhere in the world for a complete “Ring Cycle.”  But this time, we will actually be seeing the “Ring Cycle” at the festspielhaus, the opera house Wagner built in Bayreuth, Germany, for his masterpiece.  For Wagner groupies this is Mecca.  Recipients of the coveted tickets are drawn from a lottery that contains hundreds of thousands of names every year.  This year our names were selected. 

What does this have to do with shoes?  Well, everything.  A girl can’t attend a special, perhaps once in a lifetime, event without a very special pair of new shoes, n’est-ce pas?  And, so, the hunt for the perfect pair of special occasion shoes was on! 





The magnificent Swedish soprano, Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005), the reigning Brünnhilde for many decades was as famous for her powerful Valkyrie battle cry as she was for her delightful sense of humor.  When asked what advice she would give to young singers preparing for these long Wagner roles, she replied, “Wear comfortable shoes.” 

Singers are not the only ones who should heed her advice.  The four operas of the “Ring Cycle” comprise about 16 plus hours of music and the intermissions at the Festival last over an hour each, all of which means lots of prolonged sitting and standing.  Oh, and did I mention that formal attire is de rigueur

I started my hunt for the perfect pair of shoes on the internet.  I knew that I wanted something strappy in gold/metallic.  I, also, knew I didn’t want to spend $1,000 for a pair of special occasion shoes, no matter how beautiful they were.  To make matters worse, when you wear a size 4B (American) your options are severely limited.  I was coming up empty and feeling frustrated.



 

And then I ran across a website that not only carried my size (They carry an amazing range of sizes.), but allowed me to take a design and customize it to my own needs.  And, they ship all over the world. 

So, I immediately got started creating my perfect pair of special occasion shoes from a sample design. 




 
Shoes of Prey Allocation Center
The web site walks you through the process.  It’s very user friendly and so much fun to create your own shoes.  I chose the color (bronze), the toe (open), the number of straps across the toe, two of which I decided to do in gold, T-strap instead of ankle strap, closed heel instead of sling back, heel height (2.8”) and even the color of the insole.  And voilà! I had designed my own perfect, special occasion shoes for $179 delivery included.  There was nothing to do now but wait for the big day. 




 

Australian Jodie Fox, one of the three founders of Shoes of Prey, left a law practice to create the Company in 2009.  Her motivation was simple.  She found herself continually frustrated at not being able to find the perfect pair of shoes at a reasonable price, and she was betting on the fact that other women were feeling the same.  Why couldn’t we just design our own shoes to fit our own needs? Why, indeed. 

Here she talks about Shoes of Prey and the process of designing your own shoes. 





The big day finally arrived.  Here are the shoes I designed for my big event this summer. 




 

They even included heel pads, cushioned inserts and extra heel tips, just in case. 



Well, what do you think?  Not only are they gorgeous, but I’ve already taken them for a test drive and they are very comfortable.  I think Birgit Nilsson would approve.  I'm ready for Bayreuth, Herr Wagner....well, at least my feet are.  

Now that I've got mine, it’s your turn.  Go to Shoes of Prey and design your own perfect shoes.  




16 comments:

  1. Wow I am envious. We have not been to "a ring" for a few years now and I miss it. I did try to put my name down for Bayreuth but there was a 10 year waiting list. I did not know that they do a lottery system I might try again. I hear the seats are very hard and you need a cushion!

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    1. Our last "Ring" was in Seattle about three years ago, and it was wonderful. I believe I did a blog post about it. We, also, tried for years to get Bayreuth tickets, even joining the Wagner Society, but no luck, so we gave up. My husband just decided last fall to go on line and take a chance, since he had heard that there was a new selection system, but not expecting much. Weren't we surprised when the letter came from the festspielhaus saying our application had been accepted. Wow!! I'd say to give it another go, Josephine. You never know.

      You are quite right about the seats. They are all made of wood. Wagner decided on wood for its superior aecoustic value, which is apparently fantastic in the house. I'm not sure if cushions are allowed, but I will check on that. I don't think I have enough natural padding in that area, particularly for the last opera, which is almost six hours long.

      It's going to be quite the adventure.

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

      Cheers, M-T

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  2. Thank you for reminding me of this site; I've had it bookmarked for a long time but haven't looked at it in a while either! Love that they include extra heel tips. Love even more that the soles and heel tips for your newly designed shoes are light in color. Black soles and tips ruin lighter-colored shoes, in my opinion. Huge Wagner fan here - enjoy your beautiful shoes, and enjoy the Ring Cycle even more!

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    1. Dear Zephyr,

      I, too, often bookmark things and forget to look at them. Don't you just love the extra heel tips? Such a nice touch. And, yes, I chose the lighter colored soles and tips for exactly the reasons you site. Those colors are customizable as well. Isn't that lovely?

      Love hearing from fellow Wagner fans. We are the "trekkies" of the opera world. I will enjoy my new shoes and am soooo looking forward to the "Ring Cycle." It should be an amazing adventure.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Do stop by again.

      Cheers, M-T

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  3. Dear M-T,
    What a lovely pair of shoes! They look like a dancing girls' dream.
    Many years ago I knew of a place on La Cienega Blvd., in Los Angeles that would hand-make shoes. When they closed their doors, it was as if parting with a long-long friend. I designed a pair that resembled Marilyn's in the Seven Year Itch- the scene in which she stands over the grate, in red with a blood heel, for summer. I wore them with cream and white dresses. Oh, how I loved those shoes!
    Your trip sounds like fun, what's a trip to Europe without a dose of culture?
    You will be missed!
    xo,
    L.

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    1. Dear Linda,

      What an insightful comment on my shoes looking like "a dancing girl's dream." That's exactly what I had in mind when I designed them. I was thinking about some of the beautiful ballroom dancing shoes I've seen over the years.

      Your Marilyn shoes sound gorgeous. Perhaps you could design something similar for yourself at Shoes of Prey. Would love to see them.

      Dan and I are so excited about our "Ring Cycle" trip. It's truly a bucket list item that tops the list for the Wagner fan. Can't wait!!

      xoxo, M-T

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  4. This should be very exciting for you to go to Bayreuth. I've read about and envy those who are fortunate to attend this once in a lifetime experience. Don't forget to pack a hand-fan. I understand that it could be very hot there. Enjoy!

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    1. I have the perfect foldable hand fan all ready to go. It was Mme Mère's. You are quite right about the heat. The festspielhaus is not air conditioned. It gets stiflingly hot in there in the summer, but I suppose one must suffer for one's art, even when one is only a humble member of the audience.

      Thanks for stopping by, Cynthia.

      Cheers, M-T

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  5. The following comment was sent to me by my dear friend Anna and published with her permission:

    "Perfect!!! I thought you should write a blog on the shoes. It will be the most popular. And thanks for the photo of the opera house, I have not seen it. It is good to know that some opera houses still have a dress code!"

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    1. Apparently, not only is their a strict dress code ("black tie"), but there are also fairly strict codes of conduct in the opera house, i.e., no talking, no cell phones, no rattling candy wrappers, no unnecessary movements, no coughing and no sneezing (I'm being a bit facetious about some of these, of course.).

      My experience has always been that no matter where you go in the world, the opera audiences at Wagner performances are among the best behaved audiences in the world. We take our opera very seriously.

      Love to you and Novis,

      M-T

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  6. mmmm, such lovely choices for designing your own shoes ... must remember that site if I ever need a very special pair!

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    1. You might not want to keep it for a "special" pair, but think about being able to custom design your own every-day pair that's entirely your own creation. Very tempting, n'est-ce pas?

      Thanks for stopping by, Belinda.

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  7. Germany this summer ... how exciting! You will have the best time!! Looks so picturesque.

    I love a bronze shoe ... neutral but definitely not boring. And comfort is a must. Great job!

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    1. We are really excited about the trip and the operas. I agree. I think bronze goes with everything.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

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  8. I love this idea! As we get older and more picky, that is, we know exactly what we like and how we like it, it's a great idea to be able to design a pair of shoes. I will definitely check this out.
    And congratulations on getting your names picked! What a fabulous adventure.
    And do I hate it when I see people on their cell phones at the symphony!! Good for them for having rules. But if people just acted the way they were supposed to . . . . xo

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    1. I thought you would like this idea. I, too, have gotten very picky as I've gotten older.....I know my feet definitely have!

      Just last weekend at the Met Opera, someone's cell phone went off in the middle of the soprano's big aria!! Maddening!!

      As to your comment about people acting the way they are supposed to, well, dear Deborah, sadly that ship has sailed and I've taken out my lace hankie and waved a fond farewell to it (sigh!!).

      Thanks for stopping by.

      xoxo, M-T

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