The hypothetical quinceañera

The day before my 15th birthday I wrote, ‘A decade and a ½ seems old.’ 😀 It has been many, many years since I was 15, and I now find that statement to be quite funny. I never had a 15th birthday party, and since I didn’t have a party, I also don’t have any photos from my 15th birthday. This is because 15 is not a particularly special age in Asia, or in many parts of the world.

However in Latin America, the 15th birthday is a very, very big deal for teenage girls. The birthday girl is called the quinceañera, and the 15th birthday party is called fiesta de quince años in Spanish, or festa de quinze anos in Portuguese-speaking Brazil, and it is celebrated in countries all over the Americas. In the past, the 15th birthday party was a way to present a girl to society, much like a debutante. It signified that the girl was ready for marriage. These days, it’s more of a celebration of the girl like a princess.

When I say that the 15th birthday party is a big deal, I mean it is a seriously big deal, like a wedding. Possibly the most famous quinceañera is Mexican teen Rubi Ibarra García who had a 15th birthday party on 26 December 2016. The video invitation to her 15th birthday party went viral on social media. More than a million people responded to the invitation saying they would attend, and Rubi’s 15th birthday party spawned many memes. In the end, thousands of people attended Rubi’s 15th birthday in La Joya, a small village in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí. The village normally has a population of 200. Despite added security, one man died during the horse race and another was injured.

Since I never had a 15th birthday party, I thought it might be fun to have a hypothetical one. The dresses that quinceañeras wear are big, elaborate dresses fit for a princess. They are much like wedding dresses. Traditional colours for the quinceañera dress are white or pink, or pastel colours. But really these days, it seems like any colour is fine. For me, the age of 15 was sort of filled with teenage angst. I’m not sure I would have gone with the whole girly Barbie-type dress. Maybe that’s something I would have chosen if I was 5 years old. But if I had to pick a girly quinceañera dress for myself, I would go with this one:

Quinceañera dress from Q by Da Vinci in flamingo (style 80292).

In general, the fiesta de 15 años in every country involves dancing, usually a waltz with the birthday girl and her father. For this post, I’m concentrating on the 15th birthday party in Mexico because the Mexican fiesta de 15 años has many traditions that really resonate with me. The 15th birthday party is a transition, from being a girl to becoming a woman, and the Mexican birthday party has many symbolic touches to reflect this transition. One such element is called la ultima muñeca, or ‘the last doll’. In this tradition, the birthday girl is given a doll at her birthday party. The doll is usually wearing a similar dress to the quinceañera. This doll is the last doll that the quinceañera will play with, and the doll is a symbol that the birthday girl is now giving up childhood toys and becoming a woman.

An example of a ‘last doll’ or ‘ultima muñeca’ wearing a dress to match the quinceañera.

Another element of the Mexican fiesta de 15 años involves shoes (Finally! Were you wondering when I would get to the part about shoes?). This Mexican tradition is called ‘changing of the shoes’. During the birthday party, before the waltz, the quinceañera changes her shoes from flat shoes to high heels. These are meant to be the quinceañera‘s first high heeled shoes, and like the last doll, they are a symbol that the girl is now a woman.

I only recently found out about this ‘changing of the shoes’ tradition. If I had known about it when I was turning 15, I would have had a party just to get some new shoes. So here are some footwear options for my hypothetical 15th birthday party.

Shoe by EricDress.

This pair of shoes by Eric Dress would match the quinceañera dress, but in my opinion, the rhinestones are too bling, and the heels are too high for my 15-year-old self to realistically walk in. If I had to pick shoes for the Mexican ‘changing of the shoes,’ I would go with shoes by Venezuelan label, Hot Chocolate Design. I would start with these flat pink Mary-Jane shoes, by Hot Chocolate Design from their Chocolaticas range. These flat shoes have silver glitter soles. Not as bling as rhinestones, but suitably shiny for a quinceañera.

Chocolaticas by Hot Chocolate Design (style ‘Space’).

Then, at the party, I would change from the flat shoes to these Mary-Jane high heels, also by Hot Chocolate Design.

Chocolaticas high heels by Hot Chocolate Design (style ‘Marie Antoinette’).

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Why are these shoes called Mary-Janes?

I’m beginning to learn that in life, everyone has a ‘type’. Whether it’s the type of people that you’re attracted to, the type of clothes you like to wear, the books, movies and music that you like. Everyone has a ‘type’, and that is also true of footwear.

One of Shih Yen’s favourite pair of Mary-Janes shoes, by Camper from their TWS range.

So yes, I have a type when it comes to footwear, and my type is called Mary-Janes. ‘Mary-Jane’ is an American word for a shoe with a strap across the front. One of my earliest memories from when I was 4 years old was of wearing pink Mary-Jane style shoes with a buckle to fasten the strap. I had known for some time that this type of shoe is called Mary-Jane, but until recently, I didn’t know why.

An old Mary-Jane favourite of Shih Yen’s, by Candy.

Recently, I found out why these shoes are called ‘Mary-Janes’ (and it has nothing to do with marijuana!). It’s related to a comic strip by Richard Felton Outcault called Buster Brown, first published in 1902. The Buster Brown character was a 19th century boy who was always getting into trouble. In 1904, Outcault sold licences at the St. Louis World’s Fair for companies to use the Buster Brown character to advertise their products. The Brown Shoe Company was probably the first company to use trademark to sell shoes, when they used the Buster Brown character to sell children’s shoes.

Buster Brown and Mary Jane with Tige the dog, characters by Richard Felton Outcault. Both characters are wearing Mary-Jane shoes.

In the comic strip, Buster Brown had a girlfriend called Mary-Jane. Mary-Jane was based on Outcault’s own daughter who was also named Mary-Jane. In about 1909, Mary-Jane, the character from the comic strip, was used to market girls’ shoes. It was so successful that all shoes of this design, with a strap across, became known as ‘Mary-Janes’. Mary-Jane was formerly a registered trademark, but is now a generic term for all shoes of this design.

In the comic strip, both Buster Brown and Mary-Jane wear Mary-Jane style shoes. In the past, Mary-Janes were worn by both boys and girls. But by the 1930s and 1940s, the Mary-Jane style became predominantly associated with girls shoes.

A new Mary-Jane favourite, by Hot Chocolate Design.

Footwear in children’s literature

Today, the shihyenshoes blog turns 5 years old. I can’t believe that I have been writing about footwear for half a decade. To be honest, I thought I would have run out of topics to write about years ago. Who knew so much could be written about footwear. During these past 5 years, I am most proud that I have never missed a single deadline for my blog. Even though it is a self-imposed deadline – to post once a month, on the 1st of the month. There were times when I wasn’t sure that I would make the deadline. And this month is one of them – what with moving house in the midst of a massive earthquake in New Zealand. But how could I miss the 5th birthday of my own blog?

On this 5th anniversary, as I look back on my own body of work on the blog, I realize that this blog makes me seem slightly crazy and obsessed about shoes (I’m not obsessed. Really!). I do have other interests apart from shoes. So this month I thought I would combine my shoe blog with something else that I know a lot about – children’s literature. For this post, I will be looking at the theme of shoes in classic children’s literature.

When I was 4 or 5 years old, my favourite story was ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’. This  story was first published in German by the Brothers Grimm in the early 1800s. I love the idea that little elves would magically make shoes in the middle of the night. My best friend in kindergarten gave me a Ladybird book of ‘The Elves and the Shoemaker’, from their series of ‘Well-loved tales’. I found a youtube video showing the exact same edition of the book that my friend gave me. My copy of this book was certainly well-loved.

Another popular story is that of Cinderella. I think everyone knows the story of Cinderella and her glass slipper. Even as a child I couldn’t understand the logic of this story. I can accept elves magically making shoes at night, but in the Cinderella story, I couldn’t understand why the Prince didn’t recognize Cinderella’s face, instead relying on her being able to fit into a glass slipper. And surely there would be more than one woman with the same shoe size as Cinderella.

Cinderella

The Disney version of Cinderella as she puts on the glass slipper.

The story of ‘The Red Shoes’ by Hans Christian Andersen, was first published in the mid-1800s. This story is not so well-known, and perhaps for good reason. This story tells of Karen, a poor girl whose mother dies. Karen loves a pair of red shoes and vainly wears them to church. But the enchanted red shoes make her dance, and she can’t stop dancing until her soul reaches heaven. In darker versions of this story, Karen asks an executioner to cut off her feet so she can stop dancing. I don’t like this story because of its moral against vanity and against admiring shoes in church. Also, this story says that red shoes are not suitable to wear to church, and I don’t agree with that.

‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ was first published in 1865. It is more commonly known as ‘Alice in Wonderland’. It was written by an English mathematician under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Shoes don’t feature much in this book, but the original illustrations of the Alice character, by Sir John Tenniel, show her wearing flat shoes in a Mary Jane style.

An original illustration from 1865 of Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel. Alice is always depicted wearing flat Mary Jane shoes.

An original illustration from 1865 of Alice in Wonderland by Sir John Tenniel. Alice is always depicted wearing flat Mary Jane shoes.

‘The Wizard of Oz’, originally published as ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ is an American children’s book by L. Frank Baum, first published in 1900. In the classic 1939 movie version of this book, Judy Garland (as Dorothy) famously wore red ruby slippers. A few pairs of these ruby slippers were made, and one pair is at the Smithsonian Institution. Currently, the Smithsonian is raising money to conserve and repair these ruby slippers. They need US$300 000 for the conservation work. $300 000 to conserve a pair of shoes! In the book, Dorothy actually wears silver shoes. By clicking her heels three time while wearing these magic silver shoes, they will take her home. For the movie, the silver shoes were changed to red to take advantage of new Technicolor technology at the time, which would make red shoes look better on screen than silver shoes.

Next, I’m writing about classic children’s books that have a type of footwear in the book’s title. The first is ‘Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates’. This book was first published in 1865, and was written by an American, Mary Mapes Dodge, who had never actually been to the Netherlands when she wrote the book. This book, set in the Netherlands, is about a Dutch boy Hans Brinker and his younger sister Gretel who want to win an ice skating competition. The main prize in the competition is the titular silver skates. Silver skates don’t really feature much in this book. Rather, this book focuses more on life in 19th century Netherlands.

Noel Streatfield was an English writer. She wrote a few children’s books with footwear in their titles. Her best known work was ‘Ballet Shoes’, first published in 1936. This was followed by ‘Tennis Shoes’ in 1937. Possibly due to the popularity of ‘Ballet Shoes’, many of her subsequent works have alternative titles with ‘shoes’ in the title, such as ‘Circus Shoes’, ‘Theatre Shoes’, ‘Dancing Shoes’ and ‘Skating Shoes’. Though again, the shoes themselves don’t feature so much in the books.

I hope you have enjoyed this month’s slightly different blog post on footwear in fiction. A more regular post (on non-fiction footwear!) will resume next month, which is also a brand new year.

 

Shoes by Hot Chocolate Design

Happy new year 2016! At the start of this new year, I’m writing a post about my current favourite shoe label. This is the Venezuelan label Hot Chocolate Design. I love all the shoe designs in their range.

Hot Chocolate Design was started in 2004 by Pablo Martinez and Carolina Aguerrevere. Their shoe designs are all in a Mary Jane style with a strap and buckle across. Their shoes are made of fabric with a rubber sole. All their shoes have a fun, quirky design. They design on the principle that as adults, we yearn for things that made us happy as a child. So their shoes have a certain child-like cute quality to them. Their youthful designs make them very suitable as children’s shoes, and their Mini Chocolaticas range is aimed at young girls. However, I am more interested in their shoes for adults.

Hot Chocolate Design has two styles for adults – the Chocolaticas and Double Topping range. The shoes in the Chocolaticas range all have flat soles. Most of the designs in the Chocolaticas range are not mirror images of each other, in the sense that the left foot is not a mirror image of the right foot. And yet, together, they are still unmistakeably a pair.

chocolaticas

Shoes from Hot Chocolate Design’s Chocolaticas range.

I love the Chocolaticas range and I have a pair myself in the style ‘Cupid’. It is a comfortable pair of shoes, and I love the yellow glitter on the soles.

cupid

Shih Yen’s pair of Hot Chocolate Design shoes from the Chocolaticas range, in the style ‘Cupid’.

The other Hot Chocolate Design style for adults is the Double Topping range. While the shoes in the Chocolaticas range are flat, all the shoes in the Double Topping range have heels – a 3.5 inch heel, to be exact. The Marie Antoinette style in this range comes with laces that are removable, so it is possible to wear that style as a boot with laces, or as a Mary Jane style.

hotchoc

Shoes by Venezuelan label, Hot Chocolate Design. The Marie Antoinette style, with removable laces, is on the left.

I even love the shoe boxes that Hot Chocolate Design shoes come in. The Chocolaticas shoes come in a shoe box shaped like a chocolate milk carton. Double Topping shoes come in a shoe box shaped like a pink birthday cake. The packaging even includes a birthday candle to make it look like a proper birthday cake box.

choc box

The Chocolaticas shoe box in the shape of a chocolate milk carton.

 

Falling in love … with shoes

Maybe you’re one of those practical types who don’t give much thought to shoes. Shoes are just protective gear that you wear on your feet. You’re looking at the title of this post and you can’t possibly imagine how anyone can fall in love with shoes. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is possible to fall in love with shoes and I’m going to tell you about shoes that I have loved.

I don’t believe in love at first sight when it comes to humans, but when it comes to shoes, I have definitely fallen in love at first sight. The first time it happened to me was 12 years ago and I fell in love at first sight with a pair of Camper TWS twins shoes. The right foot says ‘He loves me…’ with fluttering white daisy petals, while the left foot says, ‘He loves me not’ with a white daisy flower losing some of its petals. I saw it in a print ad and went into the store to look for them. Never mind that the price tag was over NZ$300 (and this was over a decade ago) and I was just working in my first real job at that time. I bought the pair of shoes without a second thought. This was back when Camper was still made in Spain. They are a beautiful and high quality pair of shoes. I still have them and they still look pretty new.

Shih Yen fell in love with this pair of Camper shoes from their TWS range

Shih Yen fell in love with this pair of Camper shoes from their TWS range.

The second time was about 10 years ago when I fell in love at first sight with another pair of Mary Jane style shoes. The label was Candy, but I haven’t been able to find out more about this label. This pair of shoes has pink butterflies on them and the words ‘Happy summer days forever’. The soles of the shoes are pink with butterflies on them. This pair of shoes is now old, and the soles are cracked and can’t be repaired. Even though I can no longer wear them, I can’t bear to throw them out. Just like with someone you love, you can’t throw them away just because they are old.

candy

Shih Yen fell in love with this pair of Candy shoes with pink butterflies and the words ‘Happy summer days forever.’

candy sole

Butterflies on the sole of Shih Yen’s Candy shoes.

Now I can see that I have a ‘type’. I love cutesy, quirky shoes in a Mary Jane style, and preferably flat. Recently, I have fallen in love again. I love the entire Chocolaticas range by Hot Chocolate. This is a label from Venezuela, though I was disappointed to find out that Hot Chocolate shoes are designed in Venezuela, but made in China. It wasn’t quite love at first sight, but it was  a love of an entire range. I even love the shoe boxes that the shoes come in. The shoe box is in the shape of a chocolate milk carton.

This ‘cupid’ style was the only pair that the shop had in my size, so I bought them. And I love them. They have yellow glitter on the soles, and the glitter is so cool, just like the butterflies on the soles of my Candy shoes. Wearing shoes that I love makes me happy and puts me in a good mood.

cupid

Shih Yen’s Hot Chocolate Design shoes in the style ‘cupid’.

choc box

The Hot Chocolate Design ‘Cupid’ style has glitter on the soles of the shoes, and the shoe box is in the shape of a chocolate milk carton.

You may think that loving shoes are silly. They can never love you back. They may give you blisters and break your ankle, but shoes will never break your heart. ❤

As an epilogue to this post, after writing this post I finally got rid of my old Candy shoes. Like with any great love, once it is over, you have to let it go. And it is only when you let go that you can love again.

Flags and Footwear

Personally, I have a real problem with a country’s flag being used as a design on footwear. To me, it just seems very disrespectful towards a nation’s flag to wear it on your feet.

Hot Chocolate Design, a brand from Venezuela, has a pair of Mary Jane shoes with the design of the Venezuelan flag on it.

venezuela

Mary Jane shoes from the Venezuelan label, Hot Chocolate Design, featuring the flag of Venezuela. Photo from http://www.hotchocolatedesign.com

Currently, Crocs has footwear in a variety of flag designs – Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. This is part of Croc’s True Colours Collection, and consists of two different styles – clogs or flip flops. The clogs are called Crocband nation clog while the flip flops are called Chawaii nation flip. This collection was released during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and in their ‘Show your true colours’ promotion, people were encouraged to show support for their football team by wearing the Crocs flag footwear on their feet.

crocs

Crocs footwear featuring flags. Photo from the Crocs Malaysia Facebook page.

Maybe some people find this patriotic, but I wouldn’t buy footwear with flags on them, and I couldn’t bring myself to wear them. Especially with the Crocs flip flop design where the soles of your feet are actually on the flag design, it would feel as if I was disrespectfully stepping on this country’s flag.

Alpargatas by Joy and Mario featuring the Union Jack.

Alpargatas by Joy & Mario featuring the Union Jack.

Hot Chocolate Design – Shoes from Venezuela

Recently, I saw this woman wearing an interesting pair of shoes in a Mary Jane style. At first I thought she was wearing odd shoes as it seemed like one shoe was green while the other was red. I wondered if it was Odd Shoe day, but it wasn’t. (Odd Shoe Day was on the 12th of September 2014. This is a day when you wear odd, mismatched shoes and make donations to benefit Camp Quality. Camp Quality is an Australian and New Zealand charity that helps children living with cancer). Then, I realized the woman was wearing shoes with a watermelon design, and she had teamed her shoes with a pair of bright green tights. The effect was so quirky that I wished I had my camera with me to take a photo. I briefly wondered if other people walk along the street like me having urges to take photos of strangers’ shoes, which then made me question my sanity … but that’s another story.

The woman I saw was wearing watermelon shoes by Hot Chocolate Design, from their chocolatica range.

The woman I saw was wearing these watermelon shoes by Hot Chocolate Design, from their chocolaticas range.

The shoe that I saw was a pair of watermelon shoes by Hot Chocolate Design. Hot Chocolate Design is a label from Venezuela that started in 2004. The team is made up of graphic designer Carolina Aguerrevere, and illustrator Pablo Martinez. They mainly design on Mary Jane style shoes made of fabric, but they also have slip-on slippers and alpargatas styles. In addition to watermelon shoes, they also have strawberry, orange, lemon and cherry shoes. Fruit not your thing? They have other quirky styles as well. Their Hot Chocolate designs are fun, cute and whimsical. The left shoe may be different from the right shoe, and yet together both still make up a pair. Their designs are reminiscent of the Camper Twins or TWS range. Even the boxes that these shoes come in are whimsical. The shoe boxes are shaped like giant milk cartons.

watermelon shoes

Side view of the watermelon shoes by Hot Chocolate Design.

They also have a darker twin label, their Dark Chocolate Design. They call that line the dark, dead twin. The Dark Chocolate Design has a darker, more goth feel. They don’t produce a lot of any one design, so their shoes are always like limited editions and never feel mass produced. Check out the official Hot Chocolate Design site here to see more of their shoes.