Friday, October 3, 2008

Red Shoes

Carson Kressley from Queer Eye For The Straight Guy once said that only whores and children can wear red shoes. It's an old saying that is totally outdated in today’s modern society, spurned by grandmothers and conservative types. Maybe in those olden times the colour red was strongly feared as it related to the devil. Or maybe any colour was seen as daring and bold. But now with religion and superstition less prominent in society, red shoes must be ok.

The movie The Red Shoes, a stunning and wildly successful Powell and Pressburger film from 1948 has inspired many professional dancers and performing artists. The film is based upon a Hans Christian Andersen story about a girl who sees some red shoes in a shop window and has to have them, only to learn too late that the shoes are possessed and she will never be able to take them off again.

Boris Lermontov explains in the film: "The Ballet of The Red Shoes" is from a fairy tale by Hans Andersen. It is the story of a young girl who is devoured with an ambition to attend a dance in a pair of Red Shoes. She gets the shoes and goes to the dance. For a time, all goes well and she is very happy. At the end of the evening she is tired and wants to go home, but the Red Shoes are not tired. In fact, the Red Shoes are never tired. They dance her out into the street, they dance her over the mountains and valleys, through fields and forests, through night and day. Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes by, but the Red Shoes go on."

So what is a girl to do? On the one foot, red shoes are powerful and glamorous while on the other foot they're troubling and leading the wearer into mischief. The beauty of this conundrum is that red shoes carry both messages; red shoes are beauty and the beast in one. Not for the passive wearer, they demand attention, action, and daring, even if that daring can cause some problems. Above all they require a certain amount of commitment to oneself and one's fashion prowess. You want to wear the red shoes - you don't want them to wear you. Like all rules of dressing, rules are made to be broken.

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