Unlike dresses or skirts or blouses, shoes hold their shape even when no one is wearing them, and therefore evoke a sense of promise. When you see a pair of stilettos on display in a department store or featured in a fashion magazine, you can imagine yourself wearing them and becoming the kind of person who lives a magical life, gliding around gracefully with no need for sensible, lace-up shoes. The fantasy just might become realizable by stepping into the shoes and inhabiting them.
Very often, what women “love” about shoes is this frisson of potentiality, of expectancy. When considering a beautiful or unusual pair of shoes, whether high heeled or not, they think: This is what I could be. If I wear these shoes I will become a new me—a better me—a me whom others will recognize as fearless and exciting. No longer will I be a woman who plods and clunks along. In these shoes I can be fun, edgy, sexy, unpredictable. Anything is possible.
Alas, as we know, the fantasy is never truly attainable. Gorgeous shoes do not lead to a carefree life, or even to the appearance of one.
“We didn’t fabricate her from thin air; she must have collaborated with the media, however unconsciously, to form her image and to preserve it (always the same smile, the same hairdo). Because we didn’t willfully make her up, but accepted her as part of our landscape, we may consider ourselves her beneficiaries and her audience, and we may consider her appearances—captured in photographs, whether authorized or unauthorized—to be a slow, serial, fragmented performance piece, drawn out over more than thirty years, and highly conceptual, its premises never articulated or codified. Jackie was a show—the Jackie O Show—but its plot was buried, its backers were invisible, and its spectacular special effects seemed unpremeditated, thoroughly natural.”
“The fantasy of the wedding day is that it represents undeniable public and private truth that you have been chosen. For that one day, you are the most valuable creature in the world—a treasure, a princess, a prize. For many women, who have never felt chosen or desirable or precious, this is an unshakable yearning. And I'm afraid many women do choose the wedding over the marriage. It seems a steep price to pay, but it comes from a place of deep, sad longing to be loved and to have it proven that you are of value.”
“Sometimes you’re invited to a big ball and for months you think about how glamorous and exciting it’s going to be. Then you fly to Europe and you go to the ball and when you think back on it a couple of months later what you remember is maybe the car ride to the ball, you can’t remember the ball at all. Sometimes the little times you don’t think are anything while they’re happening turn out to be what marks a whole period of your life. I should have been dreaming for months about the car ride to the ball and getting dressed for the car ride, and buying my ticket to Europe so I could take the car ride. Then, who knows, maybe I could have remembered the ball.”
“If there were two characters I wanted to be during the sixties, they were Mr. Spock—and James Bond. The relationship is quite logical. Both displayed total self-confidence and amazing problem-solving skills. Both traveled to exotic locales, surviving any number of deadly perils. Both were irresistible to women. And both shared a quality that my generation lacked completely: composure. Bond, of course, had his weaknesses; his tackle rattled like a crib toy at the sight of a well-filled bikini. But Mr. Spock was virtually unassailable. The most startling marvels in the cosmos were “fascinating.” Disasters were “unfortunate,” perhaps even “tragic.” The raised eyebrow, the vaguely sarcastic mien—these were coins of the realm to my circle of adolescent friends. How did we weather the terrors of grade school? We became Spock. How did we survive the irrational outbursts of our parents? By invoking Spock. Who served as our logical, enlightened counterpoint to the madness of the late 1960s? Who else, I say, but Spock?”
“The great promise of photography was that it would tell the ‘truth’. Yet the ‘truth’ of photography is only a more convincing illusion, selection and artifice lurking behind the seemingly impartiality of the mechanical eye. Fashion drawings often give more accurate information, yet it is the photographic image that has captured the feel of modern clothes, and in doing so influenced them. Lartigue, who was taking informal photographs of fashionable ladies just before the First World War, Baron de Meyer, who flourished between the wars, and Steichen, whose work continued into the post Second World War period, all took pictures that reproduced the illusion of movement, and so the suggestion of movement became an element essential to fashionable dress. Black and white photography intensified the importance of line, contrast, and abstract, architectural form. Photography paradoxically enhanced both the mystery and the suggestiveness of fashion—and fashion magazines come on rather like pornography; they indulge the desire of the ‘reader’ who looks at the pictures, to be each perfect being reflected in the pages, while simultaneously engaging erotically with a femininity (and increasingly a masculinity) that is constantly being redefined.”
“Anybody who has swallowed the scriptwriters’ notion that this is a film about the superiority of “home” over “away,” that the “moral” of The Wizard of Oz is as sickly-sweet as an embroidered sampler—“East, West, home’s best”—would do well to listen to the yearning in Judy Garland’s voice as her face tilts up toward the skies. What she expresses here, what she embodies with the purity of an archetype, is the human dream of leaving, a dream at least as powerful as its countervailing dream of roots. At the heart of The Wizard of Oz is the tension between these two dreams; but as the music swells and that big, clean voice flies into the anguished longings of the song, can anyone doubt which message is the stronger? In its most potent emotional moment, this is unarguably a film about the joys of going away, of leaving the grayness and entering the color, of making a new life in the “place where there isn’t any trouble.” “Over the Rainbow” is, or ought to be, the anthem of all the world’s migrants, all those who go in search of the place where “the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” It is a celebration of Escape, a grand paean to the uprooted self, a hymn—the hymn—to Elsewhere.”
"Like Flaubert’s antiheroine, we saw glamour and modish excitement in the faraway and only boredom and dreariness in the here and now. In Reading, our industrial hometown, there was no shortage of dreary here and now. We fed our fantasies and illusions by reading endless drivel about the Beautiful People in my mother’s glossy magazines. These effortlessly stylish trendsetters owned sprawling palazzos in Rome and ultragroovy pied-à-terres in Chelsea. They slept in six-foot circular beds covered with black satin sheets and white Persian cats. The Beautiful People were thin and gorgeous, and they had lots and lots and lots of thick hair, and their lives seemed to be about a hundred million times more fabulous than Biddie’s life and mine combined. They did not work much, they had buckets and buckets of money, which they spent on things like champagne and caftans and trips to Morocco to buy caftans."
"Remember those classic fragrances with wonderfully evocative names: Jolie Madame, or Soir de Paris, Evening in Paris? They held out the promise of all the elegance of the chic Parisienne, all the glamour and romance of Parisian nightlife, distilled and captured in a bottle, like a genie ready to pop out and work its magic. The look of Paris and the essence of style, all for sale in a little violet blue flacon. How would the modern perfume industry have marketed its mythical scents without the mystique of Paris to back them up?"
"There was nothing reticent about L.A. Glamour was instant. The city took its generosity from the movies. You're beautiful if L.A. says you’re beautiful, goddammit.
It was the sons of Jewish immigrants, the haberdasher's son and the tobacconist's son, who established the epic scale of the movies. Movies taught one big lesson: individual lives have scope and grandeur.
Of course L.A. is shallow. Lips that are ten feet long and faces that are forty feet high! But such faces magnify our lives, reassure us that single lives matter. The attention L.A. lavishes on a single face is as generous a metaphor as I can find for the love of God."