Shoes: Pleasure and Pain

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The Peabody Essex Museum debuts closet staples as art in “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain,” on view through March 12, 2017. The vibrant, extensive exhibit looks at the creation and style of shoes from both design and historical perspectives. Many of the pieces reflect the use of clothing and footwear to restrict and control women; others reveal artistry often neglected in other sartorial areas.

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The show’s entry rooms are some of the most dynamic from a curatorial standpoint. A pair of 17th century boots sits in a glass display case next to Naomi Campbell’s infamous Vivienne Westwood blue platform crocs with nine-inch heels. Digital feeds on video screens around the room show women, from the calves down, walking in contemporary styles. The effect is a little voyeuristic, a subtle allusion to the history of fetishism affecting shoes and feet. Mirrors sit under the display cases to reflect your own feet back to you, begging the question, What do your shoes say?

Shoes made for Chinese foot binding offer a disturbing look at the usage of footwear for power and control. Fashionable society of imperial China considered tiny feet and the imbalanced swaying of those who bound theirs to be attractive. The popular belief was that the careful steps also strengthened vaginal muscles, though that was never proven. In the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.E), the ideal shoe was made of silk and only measured 3 inches long. “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” features a vast number of these contraptions, and seeing them next to an average sized shoe is chilling.027ferragamowedge

Comparisons between male and female shoes are equally revealing. Although high heels were first invented for men to hook into stirrups when riding a horse, even the heeled masculine shoes are more practical than the women’s.

At times the exhibit veers on kitschy, with displays mimicking cutesy closets and quaint throw pillows with quotes like “Cinderella: proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life.” Stations with seating and books on the history of footwear are available throughout the exhibit for those seeking more background. One section of the show goes into shoe business, dissecting the process of creation from design to execution. This beautifully melds entertainment with education, and covers ground all the way to the sneaker culture of the last 10 years.112rogervivierchristiandior

A number of the shoes on display were manufactured for local distribution, a nice nod to nearby industrial towns. Over ten pairs of Jacques Heim shoes are displayed. Heim designed them in Paris in 1960 for Shain’s Shoe Manufacture, who then distributed them in Ralph’s, a popular shoe store in Newton and Boston. For many viewers, these are shoes they might inherit from parents or grandparents, a tangible connection to the history of footwear.

In another effort to connect locally, PEM partnered with Dress for Success Boston and hosted a two-week shoe drive after the exhibit launch. The nonprofit organization empowers women to be economically independent by providing professional attire and developmental tools to help them thrive in the workplace. Though they are no longer accepting donations at PEM, visitors are encouraged to pass along their gently worn footwear to women in need.

“Shoes: Pleasure and Pain,” is a fun and fascinating looks at history via the shoes we’ve worn through it. There’s something for the academic, the designer, and the shopaholic alike.

Photos courtesy of PEM.

In Praise of Staying In

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Now that I’ve moved into a new place, I’m learning to love staying in. In my hectic world of nightly events, article deadlines, and perpetual meetings, I rarely get to spend a night at home by myself, and when I do I relish it. Especially as the weather gets colder, there’s nothing quite as comforting as snuggling up in a fur blanket with a good book.

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I keep a few silk robes on hand for when I feel like lounging around the house like an old movie star, making dramatic proclamations and fainting languidly onto the couch. This is one of my favorites. View More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/celina-septView More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/celina-sept

The surprise here is that I’m actually reading about firing squads. A delightful little excerpt from Execution.

Photos by Stephanie Krist.

BloDry Boutique Fenway

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Last week I had the pleasure of stopping by BloDry Boutique Fenway for a little pampering before a busy day. Their new location on Van Ness Street has been open for about a month and it’s one of my favorite new storefronts in the rapidly-developing neighborhood. The space is clean and minimal, the staff is incredibly friendly, and it’s on the same block as a Mini Luxe and a Sephora so you can get all your beauty needs taken care of in one stop.

blodryfenway2My stylist Jennifer was very attentive to my needs, taking into account what I’d be doing that day and what the weather was like. I felt like a movie star all day, making my weekend work much more fun. BloDry is a perfect spot to put a little extra oomph in your look between haircuts. blodryfenwayDespite the minimal aesthetic (which I love), the salon is ripe with amenities. They have coffee and tea available for an extra spa-like experience, a display of awesome products for sale, and, best yet, a selfie station with props to show off your new ‘do. blodryfenway4

If you’re looking for a little glamour before heading out for some Black Friday shopping, BloDry is running several promotions for the holiday. Today you can get 10% off your blowout, and 10% off a membership if you choose to enroll between today and Monday. Membership offers 3 blowouts for $120 or 4 blowouts for $150. blodryfenway3The Fenway desperately needed some beauty spots and BloDry Boutique is the ideal addition to the sports-centric neighborhood. It’s convenient to downtown and popular nightlife locales, but without the overcharging and long waits of a Newbury Street salon.

Please note: I was provided with a complimentary blowout, however, all opinions expressed are my own.

Shearling, Darling

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As the weather grows colder I’m breaking out my warmer jackets, including this new shearling and suede jacket from Shoedazzle. I wanted an alternative to my leather jacket for when I’m already wearing leather bottoms. Yes, this is a problem only I would have. Here I paired it with an all-black ensemble and some yellow, snakeskin cage heels. View More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/celina-octView More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/celina-octView More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/celina-octView More: http://stephanieritaphoto.pass.us/celina-oct

Jacket: c/o Shoedazzle, Shirt: Marshalls, Leggings: Primark, Shoes: c/o Shoedazzle

Photos by Stephanie Krist.

Clad in Cabernet

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In my continued love affair with burgundy I put together this two piece, monochrome look. The suede skirt and chiffon top make for an interesting textural mix and the blue snakeskin heels give it a little bit of unexpected color. And, of course, I can’t wear an outfit that doesn’t involve a little leather, so the moto jacket it was.

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Jacket: H&M, Shirt: Thrifted, Skirt: c/o Shoedazzle, Shoes: c/p Shoedazzle, Necklace: c/o JustFab

Photos by Stephanie Krist.

Patience and Time

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I voted for Hillary Clinton. But I didn’t just vote to see the first woman president. I voted for every time I’ve been grabbed on the street, for every time I’ve been discarded like a senseless piece of property. I voted for every time I, and the women in my life, have been interrupted, assaulted, and pushed aside by men like Donald Trump. I wanted someone in office who understood what it’s like to be a constant target, not a constant shooter.

I have experienced firsthand the emotional and physical violence that results from the ignorance and entitlement of men like that. And when the race was called early this morning, it was the most frightened I have ever been.

But I have learned one thing in life. All you can do is move forward. And in the dark hour I turned, as I always do, to my books. Tolstoy wrote a great deal about peace and nonviolent protest. In fact, his texts were inspiration for activists like Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. To me, last night, he said, “We lost because we told ourselves we lost.”

I can’t control the actions of our government, of our country. But I can work personally, every day, to make this world a better place. Falling into this pit of despair is how we lose. Reliving past wounds is why they never heal.

I can’t tell you that it’s going to be okay. I can’t tell you that the abuse of women and minorities won’t continue to rise. But if we each work to do good in our own lives, I believe that many of us can survive this. Tolstoy said, “The greatest warriors are patience and time,” and I am ready to fight.