Living La Diva Loca – Part 2 – Shoe Shopping

After divulging the details of haute couture, gala-gown shopping in Living La Diva Loca Part 1, dozens of readers emailed wanting to know more about our upcoming party at the Louvre in Paris, asking for pre-party pics. Alas, I’d love to accommodate my readers but I can’t show you a thing just yet. Part of the allure of buying haute couture is that they finish making the dress after you order it — thus no photos for you, dear readers, until the dress is signed, sealed and delivered!

I’ve scheduled a fitting for Friday and will be going with my two “vrienden”, The Belgian Beauty and Ms. Holland, for moral support. My husband, The Wine Guy, can only take so much shopping so he’ll happily leave the second fitting to the ladies, especially now that his job of making the final approval on the selected gown is done. After we stand around, giggling like school girls while my fitting takes place, we’re off to brunch at La Place in Utrecht. WG’s treat by the way, as he’s all about making this a perfect occasion!

For those of you wanting a few more dress details, I can tell you that the dress is black, strapless, and has a heart-shaped bust line. Naturally, it’s floor length but I suspect you’ll find it surprisingly simple. The heavy upholstery weight of the fabric makes it hang like a dream and I only wish I looked as good on my wedding day as I hope to feel at the fete! A few readers have suggested that I use my publicity prowess as The Antiques Diva ™ to convince a jeweler to allow me to borrow the perfect accessories for the night in question, but alas I don’t have that much pull (just yet anyway) – so I suspect I’ll be wearing Swarovski crystals or perhaps some art deco paste in place of the “real thing”. Edith, my couture assistant, has suggested I wear shoulder-length, pendulum earrings and though this seems a bold move, she’s not led me wrong so far. As my friend, Lady Lotus, has pointed out, “all the celebs wear them with strapless gowns at the Oscars and if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you!”

Thursday was spent in Amsterdam in a flurry of shoe shopping. While you might assume that being a diva automatically implies I’d love shoe shopping, I have feet the shape of army tanks and find that they are better off hidden in wooden clogs than strappy sandals and sexy open-toe pumps. My heart cries for Manolo Blahnik, but my feet shout for Easy Spirit and, as I’m excruciatingly hard on shoes, I’ve been known more than once to hit a Payless when visiting the States. I detest the entire process of shoe shopping and I can’t think of a worse way to spend the day.

It started at noon in the Jordaan on the Prinsenstraat at Square Feet, and though they had two pairs that fit the bill (with one pricing in at 50E ($69) and 79E ($109) for the other), one shoe pinched my toe and the other my heel so I walked right out of the store, intent on finding a perfect fit. Then it was over to Harlemmerstraat # 85 to Nottinghill Shoes, where I was tempted to purchase an evening bag as they had several items of interest. Ultimately, I decided against going for one of their sacks as The Belgian Beauty has loaned me a little, black, beaded bag that is perfect for the occassion. In Nottinghill, I found an Aladdin’s Cave of shoes, but alas, the only shoe that fit like a glove was a patent leather Hugo Boss stiletto, which would have rung up at 189E (a shocking $262). Knowing I’m not likely to wear this shoe more than a handful of times in the next year (and having already blown the budget on the gown), I couldn’t justify a shoe splurge of this nature.

Nevertheless, I did take note that Hugo Boss was made for my toe-stomping-weapons-of-mass-destruction and I’ll certainly be motivated to check out their outlet store near Stuttgart next time WG & I visit our German friends Michael and Anette. They’ve promised that the prices and selection at the factory is to die for. I might have to schedule a trip to visit them sooner rather than later just to indulge in a day of shopping, Hugo Boss style.

Still empty handed and now hungry to boot, I popped into Bagel and Beans for a quick bite to eat. B&B; is my favorite fast food eatery in A’dam and I find I indulge in their pastrami bagel after art class way too often. With a full belly, I was off again for more hard-core shoe shopping. This led me to my favorite Dutch department store, Maison de Bonneterie, where the shoes broke the bank and several of my toes so I limped my way down the street to the Magna Plaza, where I was certain I’d find something appropriate.

I know that as a European Shopping Diva, The Antiques Diva is supposed to eschew American-style shopping malls in favor of smaller boutiques and one-off stores, but the Magna Plaza happens to be one of my favorite enclosed places to shop in this rainy city. Locals call it “the Post House Gothic”, as the building is a former post office of Gothic design, so shopping at least is taking place in a sufficiently historic locale. While I didn’t score any shoes while in the mall, I
came out of Angie V with a new wallet emblazoned with a rhinestone, princess crown from the Copenhagen designer Friis & Co. And I fell in love with an Italian-Belgian designer (or was that a Belgian-Italian designer) named Stilla – Sarah Pacini and I think I may go back next week and spend my winter wardrobe budget on one shin-length, white, cashmere and wool cardigan that I’m certain I’d live in for the rest of the year. It’s the type of sweater you pass on to your grandchildren.

With a good idea for “the look” I’m going for this fall, I left the Magna Plaza dejected, shoe-less and limping yet again as my feet were tired of being shoved in and out of one spiked shoe after another. This time I headed towards the decidedly un-diva-like Van Haren Shoes. VH is a “rack-room” shoe store where you’re as likely to have your purse stolen when you sit it down to try on a pair of shoes as you are to find a sensational good deal on a decent pair of pumps. Though I didn’t find what I was looking for, I did leave VH with a beautiful pair of pointed-toe ballerina flats, prettily tipped with a school-girl black bow. At 19E for the pair ($26), I couldn’t go wrong. In fact, they were so comfortable that I actually switched them out with the brown, turquoise-studded moccasins I was wearing with my Levis ® and the white, linen shirt I’d bought with La Reine, The English Chicky & Madame Faith in St Emilion earlier this summer. Though cute, these shoes had too thin of a bottom for walking on Amsterdam’s bricked streets and I found that between trying on shoes and shopping for 6 hours with barely a break, my dogs were barking.Dejected, I decided it was time to head home. Then, unexpectedly, I caught a whiff of something I’d know anywhere. Even amidst the crowds and the jumble of humanity , over the perfume of Amsterdam’s “Coffee Houses”, smashed in the pedestrian Nieuwendijk, I smelled Italian leather. And it smelled good. Dolcis, a low-priced, high-quality shoe store, was right opposite Van Haren. I’d missed it earlier as my mind was intent on pushing through the crowds hanging out in front of VH while watching my purse as a hoodlum lurked too nearby for my comfort.

In Dolcis I found not one, but three different pairs of pumps that were party perfect. Though they are sexy shoes, they are walkable enough to not be bothersome, and yet give me enough of a lift that my husband may be standing on his tippy-toes all night so as not to look shorter than me. After fearing that I might end up doing something stupid and heading back to Nottinghill Shoes simply because I’d run out of cheaper, equally comfortable high heel options, I found my shoes. A beautiful pair of black pumps that are just practical enough that I might actually wear them again, but not so practical that I was bored by the choice. And at 49E for the pair ($67), there might just be room to consider buying that white, fox fur stole that looks like it was stolen off a Marilyn Monroe photo shoot that I found at Lady Days, my favorite vintage clothing shop in Amsterdam.

Shoes purchased, accessories at least partially sorted, I fear it’s time to close. But stay tuned for all this Gala-Talk isn’t over yet. We’ve got to get Penguin Boy (aka, my husband) sorted out! Seeing him in his tux makes me nearly swoon, but he’s still in need of a good tuxedo shirt to wear underneath. Luckily for me, my good friend, The Gourmet Goddess, has given me a myriad of Bond Street Shopping Secrets for Penguin Boy (and you) to check out during the next trip to London.

Until next time,

The Antiques Diva ™

Check out the Living La Diva Loca Series!
Part 1 – Haute Couture Ball Gown Shopping
Part 2 – Shoe Shopping
Part 3 – Tuxedo Shirt Shopping
Part 4 – A Night To Remember
Part 5 – Little Black Book