One of the first pairs of mules I made when I was studying shoemaking in the early 1990's was one I dubbed Marie Antoinette because of its pretty pale blue stripes and apparent lightheartedness, imagining her wearing mules like mine as a Shepherdess at Le Petit Trianon. I had never really imagined that the MA or Louis Seize Style was my favorite, but I had somehow lumped it together with the earlier much maligned Roccoco, which I think many of us do, Stateside. Imagine my surprise a couple of years ago, having waited on line to see the Marie Antoinette show at The Grand Palais in Paris, confronted with extremely heavy looking, ploddingly designed furniture, boiserie and objets instead of the sinuous excitement I expected!
I had heard a Parisian or two boast of their Louis Seize pieces, not really understanding their underlying meaning, which is a built in snobbery decrying the "excess and superficiality" of Roccoco, which Louis XVI replaces with that ugly boring stuff, much more serious indeed! Now I remember studying this in Dec Arts History at design school, when I was still a Modernist, a phase we all seem to go through as designers. I had guiltily adored the Roccoco since childhood, and I thought that the shift from the delightful to its weighty cousin was very amusing, like it could possibly be more serious, when it was all covered in gold and brocade.
When I evolved out of my Modernist stance, I embraced the intricacies of the Roccoco, in all its playful exhuberance, and I have never looked back! Frankly I have always generalized my love of stylized naturalism covered in gold, and sophisticated froufrou as "18th Century" so I have never been far off the mark.
But I digress. All of this is to introduce my 18th Century inspired mules to the wonderful curators at The Getty, who are bringing us Paris: Life & Luxury on April 25 .
For more of my Roccoco inspired mules, please go to my website, thanks!
*Grateful thanks to Oscar Wilde