Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Philly Dilly Dally

For months we had been planning a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, on the strength of these shoes alone!

For those of you who don't know, Zaha Hadid, who designed the shoes, is not only one of the world's best known architects, she's also one of its few high profile women architects, and also works extensively in interior design, making interiors suited to her stunning futuristic structures. To celebrate her large body of work, the Philadelphia Museum of Art recently gave Ms. Hadid her own show. If only to get a look at the shoes (manufactured by Melissa; photo by David Grandorge), we had to go.

Before you even get inside, you are treated to Ms. Hadid's concept for an automobile, which looks tailor-made for Jean and her outfit.

Among Ms. Hadid's trademarks are stretched taffy-like lines, like those in her shoes. Much of her work looks as though it's reflected in a funhouse mirror, or like it's speeding away faster than the eye can take in. In the entryway to her exhibition, even the introductory panel was stretched out, as you can see below. We were not allowed to take photos, but we found these on the web, provided by Zaha Hadid Architects.

We were treated to a long series of video clips showing buildings she's finished and buildings she's planned, but we can't show you those. Here, however, at the center of this bird's eye view of the main room of the exhibition (below), is a cluster of seats she designed. At our age, when we hear "space age" we think The Jetsons, or 2001: A Space Odyssey. In other words, we think '60s. But Hadid's designs look like the 21st century version of the word "space age".

This is the underside of a Hadid table. It's reminiscent of tree roots or spider webs. Organic, and yet very original. How often is one as interested in the underside of a table as in its surface?

If you look at around the 11:00 point of the bird's eye view photo, you can see a little display that's too small to make out. THERE was our holy grail. The shoes we'd come to see. In addition, we were surprised to see Hadid has also made space age shoes for Lacoste.
Later, in our requisite trip to the gift shop, we were delighted to see that we could actually purchase the Lacoste shoes. They're wonderful, winding as they do around the ankle. The shoe stops at the ankle, but there's a boot version that stops just below the knee, winding around the leg as it ascends. The box is just as wonderful as the shoe, and we very much regret that we were not allowed to photograph that either. You might want to buy the box just to contemplate its lines. You can see a hint of it in this picture we found on line, but you really have to see it for yourself.

The box has an outer sleeve that surrounds the box and slides off it like a glove from a hand. And the box itself is not constructed at right angles, giving it the illusion of motion, even when it's still. When you remove the box's outer sleeve, you find the shoe lying in a little molded bed, almost like a diamond ring in a velvet cushion. Taking the shoe out seems like an act of reverence. We saw the price of the shoe, and paying for it would also be an act of reverence! We were sooooo disappointed not to be able to buy, or even try on, the purple plastic Melissa shoe. The sales assistant was very sympathetic. They had tried to get it for the store, she said, but it was a limited edition, and was simply not available. SIGH.

And here follows a picture of Zaha herself. A woman of a certain age, born in Baghdad.

To give you some idea how far behind we still are, this was part of our trip to Philadelphia on March 3. We reported on the biennial fiber show, but we wound up packing so much into our day that we decided to give the Museum its own space, and we're only now getting around to it. We have to highly recommend this museum (which is now showing a blockbuster van Gogh exhibition). Not only does it have great shows, it also has two great gift shops. Their buyers take care to stock merchandise that other museums don't (but should). But we digress.

Tucked away on the second floor of the Museum was an unexpected installation titled "Great Coats".

Of course, our favorite was this ivory and black coat by Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. Produced in the mid-1980s, the coat is made of wool and nylon blend fulled twill. It is the perfect Cruella de Vil outfit, totally white in front and totally black in back.

This '80s coat was also lovely, but was nearly impossible to photograph among all the reflections. That large rectangle is actually a slide show reflected from the other side of the room.

Valerie fell in love with this collar, and took this picture, but failed to record the name of the designer.

Museum hijinks! As we have confessed on prior occasions, something comes over us in museums and we tend to act out more than usual. In the beautifully appointed elevator, Valerie perched on the operator's seat and struck a pose for the ages. No doubt, our cackling reverberated up and down the elevator shaft.

Not to be outdone, Jean gets up close and personal with Auguste Rodin's Monument to Victor Hugo.

Wandering back downstairs, we both loved this light fixture aptly titled "Comet/Nature" on the first floor. Designed by Tristan Lane in 2011, it is constructed of neon, glass transformers, aluminum and steel.

Another fabulous show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is Collab's Chair exhibition. Here are just a few of our favorites:

This wonderfully iconic 1907 beechwood and leather chair was designed by Josef Hoffman.

Jean posed by Japanese designer Masanori Umeda's 1982 "Ginza Robot" cabinet made of plastic-laminate wood and chip board by Memphis, Milan.

"MR 20" Armchair and Stool were designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1927 and are constructed of chrome-plated steel, lacquered caning.

Dutch designer Gerrit Thomas Rietveld's iconic "Zigzag" chair was designed in 1932-33 and made in 1935 of painted plywood.

Having had our fill, we were off to the fiber biennial. While we were waiting outside for the bus to whisk us away, Jean found an irrestible dog.

And we'd just thought we'd close with this photo. In case you couldn't imagine what the Melissa shoes would look like with feet in them...


  1. You two just have so much fun! And those shoes are my favorite color. Did you send me a size 9.5?

  2. those shiny doc martens are feroshhhhhhhh
    as much of a shoe lover i am cant seem to get out of mine for the past year.
    long time reader, took long time off, just returning and you ladies are still rocking. much love and keep the FABULOUS posts+fotos rolling hot off the blog press xxom <33

  3. You guys certainly get to go some fab places. As for the shoes, it should be a criminal act not to be able to buy them, or at least try them on. Gorgeous, with a capital G!

    Love from England,

  4. those Melissa shoes are so amazing. I'm sad they won't be making them en masse. =(

  5. Valerie writes, in response to Joni (why doesn't the reply button work on this blog??? We shouldn't have to use the Add Comment box in our own blog...)
    Anyway, Valerie writes: I myself am a size 9.5, so if I got my hands on a purple pair, I confess I would not be inclined to forward them on, even though it is better to give than to receive. Actually, since it IS better to give, I would like to suggest that someone give me a pair. Zaha? Melissa? Are you listening? Your fans await your pleasure (and their own, as well).

    1. Valerie, so sorry, I sent you a purple pair but they got returned in the mail. In order to be cost conscience I've decided its best if I keep them here. ;)

  6. LOVE the blog!!! You radiate such style, such panache, such joie de vivre, such a sense of wonder - you would be fabulous women to have an adventure with ... :) There's no reason to be boring and frumpy when you can have FUN!

  7. Those shoes are definitely most aerodynamic, shoes-as-art footwear I've ever seen. I love the shot of Jean, channelling "Clockwork Orange", next to her get-away car. If I ever find a pair of knee high patent docs that fit me, I will have to buy them, and it will be the sincerest form of flattery...
    Valerie, I too adore that plaid coat with the ginormous portrait collar - it is inducing serious coat-lust, as is the blue coat that Zaha is wearing in her photo.