I have been going back and forth for what feels like an eternity (but which has actually been a fairly reasonable two weeks) with the manufacturing and licensing partner who makes my shoes (if you don’t know, now you know!) on one particular style of sandal that’s being developed for the Fall/Winter 2019 season. They have a strap at the front that kind of looks like the intersection where two roads traveling in opposite directions meet and display a ton of toe but that is not the partner’s problem.
They feature a heel that looks like a flute, only it looks nothing like a flute — it’s just called a flute heel, and if your imagination can serve you ambitiously enough, I invite you to imagine what walking on an upside down champagne glass could look (not feel!) like. Surprisingly, this is not the partner’s problem either. No, what they are instead having trouble with is the little scoop that cups the heel of our wearer’s foot. Neither a slingback nor a closed back, with nary a single ankle ornament, this shoe’s method of closure is a design trick as old as time. It is an Orsay heel that Google keeps wanting me to call a d’Orsay heel but that’s like a double consonant across two languages, so for the purpose of this post, Orsay it is.
If you’ve never heard of this shoe before, that’s fine; I wouldn’t know to call it an Orsay had I not been tasked with the exhaustive accessory sample trafficking responsibilities of a fashion intern in 2007. Also, the style is old, but not like, chic vintage old, or cheeky nostalgia old, or even ironic contemporary-but-with-a-sheen-of-the-past-tethered-to-it old, which is probably why the aforementioned manufacturing partner wants to do away with my version of it. I get it, I respect it! But I am adamant about preserving it. Why?
#1: They are an efficient way to wear sling-backs without impairing your ability to walk (sling-backs never work, period).
#2: They are not a mule, which have been exhausted ad nauseam to the extent that pedicures for your heels only are now a thing. (Speculation, but I bet there is a salon that does it.)
#3: In my voracious RealReal searches for old Manolo Blahnik versions, I have discovered that my inclination toward the shoes — dated-feeling when I was trafficking them in 2007 but curiously fresh-feeling now — is contingent on a hypothesis I am currently in the process of installing: these shoes are the last untapped frontier of Carrie Bradshaw style.
If you don’t believe me, I invite you to consider the centerpiece pair of Season 6, Episode 9. (I wish I had to look this information up, but my encyclopedic knowledge of the show knows few boundaries.) In it, Bradshaw attends a party at the home of a friend where she is asked to take off a pair of classic silver Manolo Blahnik Orsays with a little embellished ring at the toe. There, they get lost and thus an episode that expounds upon the purported financial maltreatment of single women floating among friends who command gifts implied by prototypical milestones such as marriage and child birth ensues. In the penultimate scene, Bradshaw regusteres for a pair of the lost Orsays in celebration of her singlehood and finally, they — she and her shoes — are brought back together and justice is served.
When I consider why an Orsay must be represented in my collection, it is obvious that there is meat beyond the sneaking suspicion that practically speaking, they satisfy the shortcomings of a slingback and stylistically, they are due for a resurgence. Incidentally speaking, a woman’s right to shoes implies more than her aesthetic pursuits in their demonstration of her right to exist however the hoot she pleases. End scene.
Photos by Edith Young.