Ella-Louise Gilbert's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Dorothy

There’s something bewitching about red shoes.  The arts have made them an object of unethical desire – from Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of a little girl who dared wear red shoes to church and as punishment had her feet cut off, to MGM’s The Wicked Witch of the West’s attempts to steal Dorothy’s ruby slippers.  That didn’t end so well for her either; “What a world, what  a worrrrld!”

Andersen's Karen in her red shoes, unable to stop and hear what the angel says because the shoes compel her to dance.

Andersen’s The Red Shoes inspired the 1948 film of the same title, wherein Moira Shearer plays a prima ballerina in a tale that is equally as dark and tragic as it’s predecessor.

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes

I can still see clearly in my mind’s eye the illustrations in a childhood book of the skeletal little girl whose red shoes become stuck to her feet and force her to dance “over field and meadow, in rain and sunshine, by night and by day.” Even after the executioner slices off her feet, the shoes continue to dance.  It says something of reverse psychology that although my mother knew this haunting tale off by heart, for my first pair of walking shoes she couldn’t resist these cherry red 1984 Clarks beauties.

My "Tippy Tappy Shoes"

Apparently I screamed and flailed so much in the fitting for these that the only way my Gran and Mum could get them on my feet was by telling me they’d magically enable me to tap dance.  All I needed was Grandpa’s walking stick as Fred Astaire’s cane and my world became a black and white musical where I danced better than the Nicholas Brothers. I’ll have no one tell me otherwise.

Here are some shoes I defy you not to stop dancing in.

Dancing shoes

The Red Shoes album

Kate Bush also paid homage to the taboo footwear in her 1993 album.

L. Frank Baum’s original Dorothy wore silver slippers, but wanting to take advantage of the new Technicolor, MGM felt ruby slippers would be more aesthetically alluring.

An original pair of the ruby slippers

Several pairs were made for Judy Garland and in 2000 one pair was sold at auction for $666,000.

If you’ve been searching for your own Emerald City, perhaps skipping down the road in these will help:

sparklingstrawberry.com, £30.99

Red or Dead, £100

Pope Benedict XVI has reintroduced the tradition of the red leather papal shoes.

Papal Shoes of Pope Pius VII

Inside his residences the Pope wears papal slippers which are made of red velvet or silk.  I like to imagine that when the Pope’s taylor, Gammerelli first placed the red papal shoes on Benedict XV’s feet, the Pope did a little tap dance, just to psyche himself up for the day ahead.

For Cardinals, the use of red shoes is abolished. It’s no wonder then, that for her vanity in stepping through the church’s doors in red shoes, Andersen had to cut off his character’s feet.

Due to religion’s hang-ups with red shoes I was so pleased my cousin chose to wear red shoes on her wedding day – they looked fantastic peeping out from under her pure white dress.

Abbie's wedding shoes

Part of the traditional rituals that take place when a pope dies is to bury him in his red shoes. This sounds like something a non-catholic girl from Swansea could pull off well.

I ♥ ebay

As Andersen wrote, “There is really nothing in the world that can be compared to red shoes!”