Sunday, April 27, 2008

Collecting glass slippers

Even when I was a naive and dowdy little nine-year-old, I’ve always suspected that Cinderella and her wicked stepsisters couldn’t possibly be fighting over prince charming. Instead, they all wanted what every girl covets – the glass slippers.

A woman’s love affair with her “sole” mate is a tangled web of complexities. The most brilliant minds have found a way to split an atom. Geneticists have unraveled the intricate convolutions of DNA. But not even geniuses can fathom the incomprehensible degree of obsession most women have over shoes.

Could mommy’s bedtime story of a beautiful princess being found by her prince through a lost slipper be to blame? Has that splendid image of a pair of luxurious glass shoes, sparkling like polished diamond under a masquerade ball’s spotlight, been perennially ingrained in our inner psyche?

Or, must we all fault Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City’s fashionista protagonist, for single-handedly introducing us to Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo? Never mind that the once mega-hit TV series is so last season now, it has already marked its “damage” on women who now intimately talk of Manolo and Jimmy like they are every woman’s first-degree cousins.

I first realized of the show’s aftermath on me when, stepping into The Venetian Hotel at Las Vegas for the first time, I asked where the Jimmy Choo boutique was instead of the famous indoor Grand Canal. Not that there’s any possibility for this shoe lover to afford herself of an expensive pair, but – like a little girl who have yet to hold her first Barbie –caressing a ridiculously expensive pair of Jimmy Choo is always blissfully surreal.

Of course, men – including those in my family – would never be able to understand this worldly obsession. “Why do you need all these pairs when you only have two feet?” is the standard question each time my cousin and I whine about not having enough.

Unfailingly, we try to defend ourselves from the onslaught of guilt attacks. “Shoes have personalities. You can’t pair a Sienna Miller boots with an Ashley Simpson shirt. It’s just not right!” my cousin would counter.

Besides, I would add, swing moods dictate which pair to slip on which justifies the need to constantly stuff the shoe rack. On perky days, purple ballerina flats. On dreary mornings, black pumps. While flirty evenings call for some red hot stilettos.

But the assault would go on. My brother, for instance, the proud owner of only three pairs of footwear, complained how his shoes – despite being a minority in number – have been displaced like another war refugee because I have guiltlessly hogged all the rack space.

Fearing that my soul will soon rot in “shoe” inferno, he desperately tries to pull all the stops to keep me from stepping into shoe stores like Schu, Charles and Keith, Janylin and others, on the few occasions that I get to convince him to shop with me.

“It will just be a quick glance,” I’d come up with an excuse without taking my gaze off the gold-dusted wedge on So Fab!’s display rack.

A hasty ten minutes after, we left the place with a pair of fancy wedge – and a set of Dorothy-like red pumps.

Now, grownup and with an expanding shoe rack, I must say I have gained perspective. I no longer look at Cinderella’s stepsisters as ruthless and wicked. After all, if I were the stepsister, and I’d chance upon the bedtime tale princess prancing around with a pair of gem-embellished Jimmy Choo’s, no way will I let her out of the courtyard without snagging the precious pair off her pretty feet!