“Phoning It In”

Jean Shafiroff’s phone lock screen using a photo of her at
a New York Botanical Gardens Winter Wonderland Gala

I got “the calling” in mid-June. Like Capital One’s “What’s in your wallet?” I would reach out via email to various influential fashion insiders asking them to divulge, “What’s on their home phone lock screen?” Why had they chosen that particular image? What feeling did it evoke as they caught a glimpse of it throughout their day?

Suspecting that the majority would have A) a photo of a loved one: a spouse/significant other, child, pet; B) a photo of themselves; or C) landscape/scenery from a place that they owned or had visited, I secretly hoped for something quirky or design inspired. My working theory was that you can tell a lot about a person by the lock screen photo they hold dear.

Of the 30 potential respondents that were sent this query, surprisingly, only two (2) responded. In this age of the social media over-share, I honestly didn’t think that posing this question would be considered nosy, impudent, or even particularly unwanted. I had even volunteered to shield the sharer’s identity upon request. To the best of my knowledge, this had been an original idea, at least no one I had told about it had seen it done previously.

I did think that perhaps others who received my query would be “inspired” to (more) successfully implement it? Recently there’s evidence that “great minds think alike” as I noticed a similar video in which the cast of a daytime soap displayed their phones on Twitter. While I will not issue a “call out” a la Diet Prada, I think it’s fair to say that you can expect to see more of this type of “is it copying or coincidence?” going forward.

My phone lock screen

Had my “What’s on your Phone Screen?” article come to fruition I knew that I would have to play fair by the rules of “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine.” Since my phone could have been found on an archeological dig right next to a dinosaur (I got it almost six years ago, it is no longer supported by Microsoft, and yes, I will soon be upgrading it).

My home screen photo is a shot that doesn’t really fit any of the usual guidelines. Its seasonal theme may be from a holiday I don’t even get to celebrate, yet it gets an “A” for originality. To this day I believe that few creative ideas come close to the Christian Louboutin boutique on Madison Avenue’s 2013 window display featuring gold glitter pumps, red-soles facing out, in a Christmas tree formation topped with a gold pump “star.”

Christian Louboutin

As you may know, Christian Louboutin is being honored by the Museum at FIT’s Couture Council at their annual luncheon on September 4th where he will receive the Award for Artistry of Fashion. He is the second shoe designer (Manolo Blahnik received the award in 2015) to be featured. FITttingly, this influential Frenchman’s award arrives concurrently with MFIT’s “Paris, Capital of Fashion” exhibition which will feature exclusive made-to-order Louboutins among 23 pairs of shoes, clothing, and accessories dating from the 18th century to the present.

“To be recognized by The Museum at FIT’s esteemed Couture Council is a great honor,” Louboutin said in an MFIT press release. “While my designs have roots in Paris, I feel fortunate to have access to some of the most specialized craftsmanship in the world; that has allowed me to push my creative boundaries and celebrate inclusivity and self-empowerment through cultural exchange.”

My own personal history with Louboutins is complex. “Sex and the City” notwithstanding, I was always a Manolo girl – my super stylish stepmother wore Blahnik’s exclusively and introduced me to the fabulous townhouse sales where they close at lunchtime to restock. This stood until I somehow raised a status seeking high-school aged daughter who informed me that her best friend was getting a pair of Louboutins for graduation – could she get a pair too? Why didn’t I own a pair (or 20), she asked as if I had stumbled down the road of the seriously dowdy.

Christian Louboutins in Boxes

I’m not proud to admit it, but her status shaming worked — I bought each of us a (sale) pair. How could I say no when my very being as a (credit) card carrying style setter was being challenged? Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there – I ended up amassing quite a collection over the past decade (mostly worn once or completely unworn).

The Real Real was only too happy to take them off my hands (or should I say feet) when I had to face reality. Truth be told, rather than collecting envious looks and compliments on the stealth, these shoes were just taking up space and collecting cobwebs on my shelf.

While Mr. Louboutin denies that he purposely makes his beautiful shoes uncomfortable I’m fully aware that I’m not who he’s designing them for. Not only is my lifestyle anything but “limo-to-restaurant,” I’m also cursed with both high instep and flat feet — Louboutins are made for narrow footed gazelles.

Christian Louboutin worn by Laurel for her father’s birthday

I once wore a particularly eye-catching, sky-high pair to my father’s 80th birthday dinner. I made the (oh so torturous) high-priced beauties part of my schtick, name-dropping the designer in a “rap song” tribute to dad which I “performed” in a metallic Dolce & Gabbana dress, a backward Yankees baseball cap, oversized dollar sign necklace, and dark shades. I wrote and rapped the immortal lyrics, “Hope you like my Louboutins, Had to float a municipal bond.” Hopefully, the only time in recent history that “Louboutins” and “municipal bonds” were asked to rhyme…

Laurel wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress

Another story involved a friend whose daughter was about to tie the knot. This friend values comfort above all, so when she mentioned that she wanted to make a splash at her daughter’s wedding in a pair of Louboutins, I had to caution her against it. “Don’t do it! You will hate yourself. They will ruin your night!” I extolled the virtues of Manolos or Stuart Weitzman. Did this advice fall on deaf ears?

The day of the outdoor ceremony in October dawned on the “heels” of a week of rain. Guests in fine footwear sunk inexorably into the soft spongy dirt. Après le mariage I inquired as to the extent of the damage to the Mother-of-the-Bride’s footwear. Shockingly no designer shoes had been harmed — underneath her gown, she had gone barefoot. Perhaps Christian Louboutin, a former landscaper, would have put down some dry sod if not a red carpet to match his red soles.

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

1 Comment
  1. I am laughing at your article because it made me happy to know I’m not the only person who “gave” (and I use that term because of the rate of return on investment”) my large collection of Manolos and Louboutins to the Real Real. They were also torturing me, and collecting dust in my shoe closet. About ten years ago, I found Jimmy Choo’s elegant “Nova” slingback. Because of the (smallish) platform, it makes you feel like you are much taller, but feels only like a 3” heel. Although they are no longer in production, the Palm Beach store has them made at Choo for me for about 1/2 more than the originals. To me it’s worth it. There isn’t a color I don’t have, and I’m comfortable. I actually wear them every day, even with jeans. Thanks for the great read.

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