Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Wizard of Oz

ruby slipper

Like many girls of my generation and beyond, I have a soft spot for The Wizard of Oz. It used to play every year around thanksgiving and Christmas, and every year television would claim that it would never air on television again only for the Wizard of Oz to make an appearance on some station or another the following year. It seems that The Wizard of Oz has finally faded off the air, but it certainly hasn't faded from my mind, particularly those iconic ruby slippers.

The Wizard of Oz film we're all so familiar with is based on L. Frank Baum's book first published in 1900. Baum says of his book:

ruby slipper

‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.’
The Oz books (Baum wrote 14 sequels to the first book) was one of the first picture books written by working with an illustrater, so text and images were made at the same time and complimented each other. William Wallace Denslow's art nouveau style illustrations set the tone for the 1939 Oz film so dear to many of our hearts. He used sepia tones for the 'The Grey World' of Kansas in the opening and switched to bolder colors for Oz.

ruby slipper

In these stories, Dorothy was only 9 or 10 years old and her slippers were silver and not red, which went with the art neveau style of the time. The 1939 movie adaptation changed Dorothy's shoes to red, among other things. The switch to red was likely to capitalize on the technicolor shift. Red is a very vibrant color that attracts the eye. It also gives a primary color scheme to the main elements of the story; the yellow bick road, the ruby slippers, and Dorothy in her blue gingham dress. This also results in Dorothy wearing American colors of red, white, and blue, also the blue isn't as vibrant as the blue on the flag. MGM's slippers are also mid to low heeled pumps, which point to Dorothy coming of age in the film. When Dorothy comes to Oz, she switches from flat loafers to glamorous heels and trades her pigtails for a sexy head of curls. She also dons vibrant red lipstick, something I doubt she wore back in Kansas.

The Wizard of Oz

I confess, I haven't really read the books. I read one in the series quite some time ago, and it was in chapter book form without Denslow's pretty images. Thus, when I first set out to make my version of the famous slippers, I wanted to make a pretty faithful replica of the shoes used in the film. But when I took a closer look at the shoes used in the film, I saw they looked kind of cheap.

ruby slipper

On screen, they shine brilliantly. In person, they're kind of dull, which is acceptable given their age. But rows of sequins were sewed onto leather shoes with white thread, which is clearly visible. The flat bow actually has rhinstones and bugle beads on it. Kind of a ladyboner crusher. (I read Agent Lover recently. My boyfriend was rather amused with "ladyboner.")

ruby slipper

Those fabulous costumes in old hollywood films often used hook and eye tape and snaps to hold the garments closed and make it easy to get the garment on and off. That sounds cheap because the costumes were cheap at the time. Your local playhouse may have costumes on par or even better made.

ruby slipper back

Since my shoes weren't meant to just look good on screen, I decided to move away from a facsimile. I kept the main elements of the shoe: an almond-toed pump with a comfortable heel, red sequins, and a bow. Then, I modernized the look a bit with a sleeker, higher heel (though still comfortable) and the bow placed to the side at an angle. Instead of sewing the sequins on, I glued them on en masse. I like the texture it gives verses rows of perfectly placed sequins or glitter. My bow is also three dimensional, made from fabric scraps.

ruby slipper front

For More Information than you may want to know on the various incarnations of Oz, check out The Wizards of Oz post from Verdoux.

Even more informtion than you may want to know.

Costume Discussion.

Click on images to be carried to their source, most of which are also linked at the end. Sources of my information also linked at the end.

Lost somewhere in Oz,

Ivy Frozen

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It Shouldn't Be This Hard to Spend Money

the swan princess seems like an innocent enough site. They have a good selection of cute shoes for excellent prices. A look up of their reviews shows a mixed opinion of them, but no deal breakers. I'd say go ahead and order from them if you have a month or two to receive your shoes. Oh, it wasn't the shipping. They take 3 days to process your order--we'll come back to this-- and my shoes arrived 2 days after this. It's the ordering. It took me three weeks just to order the things.

Barefeetshoes has a lovely policy where they only ship to the address that your credit card is registered to. The only way to circumvent this is with a money order. This is to protect their customers against identity theft. That's very thoughtful of them. It might be more thoughtful if their Nazi-ish adherence to it didn't make it hard to gift them, as my boyfriend was trying to do for me.

Being a college student who moves around a fair bit, my card wasn't registered to my current address but a more permanent one. I changed the address to my current address just so I could purchase a pair of the most perfect shoes ever made. The bank informed me the change had taken place. Apparently that wasn't good enough for the site, since despite me typing the address exactly the same as it appeared on my bank statement three or four times, barefeetshoes still rejected it. I called the site and attempted to phone order, but was told I needed my mother to hold my hand while I dialed to prove that I was who I said I was and her mother holding her hand to prove she was indeed my mother and... Okay, really, they said I had to call my bank and three-way chat with them so they could prove my address.

I rang my bank to learn they had approved my transaction and they could not tell my address and that I was I. Oh, no. Instead we had to circumvent that by the bank worker asking my my address and having her confirm that it was the address on the account. Joy of joys.

After this game my shoes were finally ordered. I had wanted said shoes for my birthday, which is why I ordered them about a month prior. But my order could not be processed for three days. That's the time it took for the magic elves to find the elusive imaginary purple and orange cows needed to make the shoe. On the second day, they could finally cute out out the shoe, but they'd need a third day to stitch them together. This would have made more sense if their wasn't a charge from the last failed attempt still pending in the bank account along with a dollar account check charge from google, that google failed to inform me of when I signed up for their shopping cart service. Shame to google too.

After these three business days, my shoes arrived two days after. I had ordered two pairs to take advantage of free shipping. What i got was one pair, with a notice that the other pair I had tried to order was out of stock. I would have been more annoyed that no e-mail/phonecall/ etc. had informed me of this had I really cared that much for the second pair I was supposed to receive. Of course, this was also after I missed out on the original additional pair I had ordered and actually wanted. They were the perfect plain pump for me to sequin up for some Wizard of Oz whimsy. It took two weeks to figure out they had canceled that order, though that was more do to my lazy and impatient boy. Luckily, the ones I cared about came and I still received free shipping.

Of course, the ending still wasn't very happy. The shoes I did receive were somewhat beat up. They had discoloration spots, a few tiny stickey dots of goo on one. A price sticker was removed from the sole of the other, leaving it stickey and covered with blond hair and other crud. Dried glue was visible inside and the sole came up at the toe with my first wearing. One of them was also stitched somewhat poorly, with the lining jerked to the outside. I might have attempted to exchange them, however given their crappy service, I didn't want to risk a worse, and I truly am in love with the shoes. Perhaps they heard the bit about me eating their babies when they put me on hold and hung up on me. Or perhaps when they were chatting with other people while on the phone with me. The sound of their physical store was clearly audible over the line.

If I hated them so much, why did I spend three weeks trying to order from them? I orginally saw the shoes at Lulu's. I had seen the triple strap style on Ranna, and adored it, but despared of finding it on any shoe with a heel below 4". But these shoes had the triple strap style and a comfortable and chunky 2.5-3" heel. They were also in purple, a color I had longed to add to my shoe collection. But when I tried to order the beauties, they didn't have a matching pair. Apparently, they had sent out a mismatched pair. I turned to google for help, and found the best price at Barefeetshoes. By the time I realized how craptastic their service was, the one other site I had seen the shoes at --with a considerable price hike which I would gladly pay now for a site that actually wanted to sell shoes-- only had the shoes left in one color, which wasn't the color I wanted. But feast your eyes on these beauties and perhaps you'll see why I went to such pains to secure them, however I will never order from Barefeetshoes again.

Triple Strap Mary Janes

Never goign throught that again,

Ivy Frozen

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