Spinal Wedges, or: Lauren Makes Shoes v.1.0

It all started with mythical tales of 70s disco glamazons who danced with platforms that doubled as aquariums. Who hasn't wondered, at one time or another, if it isn't possible to hack your way into a pair of see-through heels?  Oh the possibilities, the things you could literally walk on! It's one of those situations, you know, where you're only limited by your imagination… and sense of dignity, but you can only maintain that for so long anyway, so may as well live large.

Curiosity got the best of me, and what started out as my tearing apart those lucite monster wedges that you know I loved to death in all their tack-tasticness, lead to 3234023945234 hours of research and birthed this obsessive experiment in making a luxe-ified stripper heel without having (yet) acquired a last, or at the time, knowledge of shoe construction.  Learning experience. You know how people pimp out their old bomb cars? Well, my dear mother took one look at these and declared that that's precisely what was going on here.  Is this the (IN)DECOROUS TASTE version of "Pimp My Ride"?  I think I'd prefer a "Pimp My Shoe."  Are you listening, MTV?

The shoe, pre-butchering.  It's got a pretty cool lucite wedge but, as people tend to note, it undeniably communicates "stripper."  Which is fine, but no fault of the wedge.  What about the wedge? It's destined for bigger and better things. It needed to detach (from the plastic upper bringing it down) and fill that gaping (lucite) void…

Here it is in the process of stripping it down and cleaning it up. This involved lots of prying, slicing, ripping, and sanding the surfaces so that they were free of glue. At right, it's startling clean: a blank canvas, except better, because it's part of a SHOE.

I filled the inner with what I designed to be a kind of internal metallic spine.  I made this with vachetta leather, spikes and crystal (what, did you think (I)D's first pair of shoes would be without crystal??), and attached it to the underside of the platform upper. You can see, I also made a leather sole for the shoe.

Why a spine? The inspiration came from the fleshy appearance of the veggie tanned vachetta…and I ran with it. Anyway, I lined the inside bottom of the wedge with a reflective, metallic surface so that at certain angles, the toothy spikes are reflected. At times, it has the bizarre effect of making the platform look "deeper" than it in fact is.

And then (and this is one hell of a massive simplification) I created a pattern for the uppers, cut them from vachetta which I glazed white, finished off the edges, etc, and then wet formed them on my foot. One of the things that's so great about vegetable tanned leather is its malleability. Ordinarily, the upper of a shoe would be formed over a last, but for various reasons, these had to be made without one. I took advantage of this and worked the leather into every crevice, bone, and callus on my foot! Hahaaaa gross?! But they're like a second skin!! For my foot, at least.

Since the upper needs to be attached to something, and that something needed to replace the subpar layer of foam/faux suede insole that these came with, I was left making my own insole. Again, ordinarily you'd form this on a last, but instead, I wet formed a piece of vachetta cut to fit the insole on the actual shoe. It's plastic, after all, and comes pre-molded. After it dried, I used gel inserts and leather to build it up in the appropriate places (I live in heels, so I better well know where they need the extra padding!) I encased the entire thing in leather, and then, as you can see, I attached the dried, molded uppers by way of laces, lots of glue (pretty sure I'm significantly down in brain cells at this point) and did what it took to make the bottoms smooth (cutting out a leather filler, filing it down, etc etc etc etc) and ready for more gluing.

A peek at my work space. It started to look like a landfill at one point! But with perhaps more chandeliers than you'd ever encounter in a landfill. Here you can see the shoe has come together. The internal "spine" has been attached along with the reflective surface covering the bottom inside of the platform, the uppers are fixed to the insole and attached to the platform, and the leather sole is on the wedge.

Did I stop there? HA, don't be silly. Of course not.  I applied a thin band of color right by the toes. (It's more flattering that way, since the color doesn't chop up the line of the leg.) Might as well get some mileage out of the 6 inch wedge.

But sometimes more is more. These shoes have a little secret....

Yeah, that's right, they glow under black light!  So in case, you ... end up at a rave (what) or in a tanning booth, you're covered.  I have this vision of being entirely invisible except for a thin band of neon...oh, and glowing toenails .  Forgot about those.

What is this, (IN)DECOROUS TASTE on acid?  I had forgotten the simple joys of UV lightbulbs.  Now seriously, go paint yourself neon and... host a rave or something.  It's summer!


A Royal Faux Hawk

EDIT: I'm currently working on creating an organization for my posts.  Somehow, in the process, this old one was republished. Not sure how it happened, but rest assured, I'm not trying to make you feel like you're losing your mind, your deja vu is justified!!!

"...With the decline in the popularity of hats, the business closed in 1970, brought down by what Mr. John described acidly as 'orthopedic hairdos and french fried curls.'" - From Mr. John's obituary , The New York Times, 1993.

WELL. In that case THANK YOU, french fried orthopedic curl-styling hairdressers, for making this hat, by none other than Mr. John, available for my purchase, at a thrift shop. Who would throw this out? I'd like to have a word with her.

From the obituary (full text here):
In the 1940's and 1950's, the name Mr. John was as famous in the world of hats as Christian Dior was in the realm of haute couture. At a time when other milliners were piling on flowers, feathers and tulle, Mr. John was stripping hats naked, relying on pure shape for effect...

His clients included stars of film, stage, opera and the society pages. Among the fashionable women who wore his designs were the Duchess of Windsor, Gloria Swanson, Gloria Vanderbilt, Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell. His hats were worn by Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind," by Marlene Dietrich in "Shanghai Express," by Greta Garbo in "The Painted Veil" and by Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."
Images styled and photographed by (IN)DECOROUS TASTE. Modeling by Cristin.



Stubbs & Wootton, well known pedigreed purveyors of the super preppy velvet slipper shoe has had a grand, old, sublime, "WHAT??!" moment.  Apparently, they don't take themselves too seriously, and neither should you!

Something mad on top of something very good... (see Bennison quote at right--->)  Or is it just wrong that I like these?

Via Stubbs & Wootton, $375.



Just one more.

A high class prostitute (oiran), c. 19th cen. Via Okinawa Soba's flickr.


It's insane how much time I spent sifting through images over at Okinawa Soba's Flickr account (fantastically beautiful images, they'll blow you away, promise).

These first two are by the photographer T. Enami. This "umbrella farm" (first image below, c 1905-1915) is what initially won me over.  Both this photo, and the one after, are surreal... and a little sinister in a way, right?  But then, I always go weak at the knees for strong graphic patterns and hand tinted photos...the colors, the colors, the colors.

From the original caption for "Umbrella Farm":
 Close examination of the original slide reveals that, aside from the interspersed varying green grass, Enami's colorist also applied over 700 individual curved applications of alternating yellow and red stripes to the umbrellas, rarely allowing any bleed outside the stripes. The orange "sunburst" patterns on the white umbrellas at lower right are free-form applications. 
I respect that! Because surely, if I were to undertake this level of minute detail, I'd want to gouge out my eyes with the paintbrush. Ahhh, I can be such a slob about these little things! (Can be? Who am I kidding?  Have I ever told you about the time I took architecture and made my first model by cutting—no, more like hacking!!— all of the foam board "by eye"? What's that you say? Floors should be parallel to ceilings???? Windows, rectangular? Psh.)

Below, a 1905 reprint of a late 1800s photo of a girl by T. Enami.

Below, geisha.  I saved this for the checkerboard.  Despite (or because of?!!) the fact that it looks like a Nascar flag, I can't look away! ...Checkerboard may just be working its way into my life in the near future, although, in what capacity I'm not sure...

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