Like the William Blake poem about being able “to see the world in a grain of sand”, I always maintain that the microcosmic fashion world offers a great reflection of life’s bigger picture. So there I was, on a photo shoot in Montreal for my fall EDIT look book, being torn by that ageless head/heart dilemma of form over function. The stylist had brought in a delectable cache of shoes for me to wear for the photographs, and this one pair of Jimmy Choos really had me drooling: nude, patent stilettos, with the perfect rounded toe, a 1” platform and a 41/2” heel. They were stellar—sleek, sexy, and totally seductive, with just right amount of toe cleavage. To add to the allure, the nude pump is, of course, the hot shoe of the moment, and I had yet to own a pair. “Any chance of buying these right here, right now?” I asked the stylist, who’d borrowed them from Rosenstein’s, one of Montreal’s chicest shoe emporiums. “Sure!” he acquiesced. Be still my beating heart! But the moment I slipped them on, it was my big toes that began throbbing. Of course, I ‘d never expect a shoe with this extreme glam quotient to be all that comfy. These ones, however, did border on tipping my personal pain threshold, which, when it comes to killer shoes, is uncannily high. Still, with no time at all these days to shop around, a sudden urge to satisfy my high style appetite took hold. So I flung myself wholeheartedly into fashion-crisis mode, succumbing to this shallow yet gripping quandary. Since there were no friends around to help me make up my mind, I decided to seek the opinion of my sage Twitter followers.
I snapped a picture of my foot crammed into the divine shoe, and asked my cyberspace confidantes whether I should go for these yummy Jimmy Choos, despite the considerable discomfort level. Within seconds, dozens of responses started pouring in. Comments ran the gamut: “Stunning! But I never buy a shoe that is not comfortable….”; “Absolutely buy them. Comfort is overrated!”; “No Jeanne. Be authentic, true to yourself, and comfy!”; “You’ll break them in! They’re pretty fabulous.” One moment I was being told that “shoes that look that good are never comfy anyway” and that they were “worth the pain”, and the next, being warned that “buying uncomfy shoes never turns out well” and that “nothing is worse than owning fab shoes you can’t wear!” The advice was maddeningly split down the middle. But the comment that swayed me most was from the girl who tweeted: “You’re not starting to buy sensible, comfy footwear are you?? Fight the urge! Those are FABULOUS and will go with everything!” After hearing that, if I walked from the shoes, I’d feel I was growing too practical and boring with age. So, throwing both caution and credit card to the wind, I charged away, shuddering at the thought that one could go on a mini vacation for the price of these pumps. I then sent a coy little tweet: “Guess what I did??”, and a picture of myself, shoe bag in hand, looking guilty yet self-satisfied.
The next day, after stoically teetering around my bedroom for 5 minutes in the new acquisitions, I finally uttered an “ouch”. This couldn’t go on. Mournfully, I put the shoes back in their box, resolved to return them on my next jaunt to Montreal. But later that night, I came across some reviews of these very same Jimmy Choos on the Net, from some very enthusiastic customers, including one woman who shared: “At first, they fit really tight. But unlike normal patent shoes, the leather does give way! Just walk around the house for a few hours.” Hmmmm. Still deciding if I’m up for it.
Whether I end up keeping the shoes or not, my footwear folly proved most heartening: It brought home the fact that everybody has a valid opinion when it comes to fashion. That is what’s truly modern about style today. It’s been happily democratized, and we all have legitimate points of view, because fashion is so wonderfully subjective. And that’s what excites me. As a new contributing editor to the Toronto Star, I want to celebrate real people, and have a dialogue with those of you who express yourselves via style—or would like to; those who are passionate about fashion and want to share their finds, fears and fantasies. I want to delve into the kinds of issues we all have, from dealing with our style rebellious kids, to shopping for our aging moms. I’m also looking forward to directing some special editions of the Living section, adding to its already impressive fashion coverage, as well its other lifestyle content.
A child of immigrant parents, I had the privilege of growing up in Toronto in the ‘50s and ‘60s. As a little kid, I spent my weekends taking piano lesson at the Royal Conservatory and shopping in Kensington Market with my dad, who had a small slipper factory on Adelaide St. As a teenager, I drove up and down the Yonge St. strip on Friday nights, hung out at Sam the Record Man, and worked at the CNE every summer. Saturdays, I’d get all dressed up and window shop on Bloor St., luxuriating in swank places like The Colonnade, and dreaming about high fashion possibilities. In those days, most of our stylish shopping sprees were confined to the wilds of Buffalo, because as great as this city was, it rarely measured up to the exotic retail adventures to be had south of the border. But all that’s changed, and though Toronto may not be an international style capital just yet, it is considered one of the hippest and chicest urban centres in the world. My aim at The Star is to celebrate this stupendous city of ours, and while my reports from the world’s catwalks, and my interviews with some of the most intriguing celebrities on the planet will be a vital part of the mix, I’m adamant about reaching out beyond the superficial glam and hype of the fashion world, and connecting with YOU. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned after a quarter of century in the style trenches, there really is no place like home. I can’t wait to hear from you. Let the dialogue begin!