By Karen Rempel
Confession time. I’m a shoe fanatic! I have a friend who decides what she’s going to wear on a given day based on which pieces in her remarkable jewelry collection she feels like displaying. For me, it’s all about the shoes. I will often pull together an outfit based on which of my dearest pair of heels I want to take for a walk. These Sophia Webster stunners are in my top five, but they are so special I only take them for a stroll to the fanciest events, or in this case, to the Bleecker Playground!
These shoes have a more interesting life than I do. The first time I wore them, to a gala at the Vancouver Art Gallery, people took more pictures of these shoes than of the art. Similarly, I made a friend at the National Arts Club because she wanted to take a picture of the shoes. During the photo shoot with Dusty Berke on Bleecker Street, a stylist driving by opened her car window to ask if the shoes are by Sophia Webster. They are simply so spectacular that people feel magnetically drawn to them. Including moi! It was love at first sight when I saw them at The Bay in Vancouver. But the price tag was so steep, I took a picture of the shoes and hoped that would satisfy my heart. To my great joy, when I returned a month later they were marked down 50 percent for an end-of-season sale. The price was still steep, but no longer in the stratosphere. On that happy day, the shoes became my dear friends. For this month’s look, I swapped out the original black suede and fur-ball ties with pale green ribbon to match the dress.
I found the vintage 1930s flower-print dress at Honeymoon Antiques. I saw the dress’s red piping and purple, magenta, and turquoise floral print, and just had to try it on. To my amazement, the dress fit me perfectly. The most incredible thing about this dress is that the puffy sleeves detach with zippers! The owner of Honeymoon Antiques told me the dress was from the 1930s, but I wanted to verify this for myself, so I checked the Vintage Fashion Guild’s website for tips on dating vintage clothing. The dress still has the original metal Talon-brand zippers. Zippers were used in women’s dresses beginning in the late 1930s, and sleeve zippers were used in the 1930s to 1940s, though center-back zippers weren’t commonly used until the 1940s. The label sewn in the seam of the dress says “A Junior Miss Registered Original Design, FOGA, 59A.” According to fashion historian Jonathan Walford, the Fashion Originator’s Guild of America (FOGA) was formed in 1932 to protect clothing designers from knock-offs. The guild operated from 1932 to 1941, when the Supreme Court determined that the Guild’s practices were monopolistic. This detective work places the dress in the late 1930s, or at the very latest 1941. I think Linda Zagaria would approve!
Vintage flower-print ’30s dress with detachable sleeves. Honeymoon Antiques, 208 E. 6th Street.
Sophia Webster pop-art shoes with colored ribbon. The Bay, Vancouver. Ribbon from Michael’s on 6th Avenue.
Giant diamond drop earrings. Shopper’s Drug Mart, Vancouver, BC.
Turquoise bead necklace with silver coin medallion. Esalen gift shop, Esalen, California.
Vintage amethyst and turquoise bracelet. Mirabelle Boutique, 1310 Madison Avenue.