Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Swans Down Shoes

Apparently in Madame Bovary (1856), her lover gives her a pair of pink satin shoes trimmed in swan down. How delicious. Since I haven't actually read this, I don't know if the description is any more specific than that, really. Anyway, I wonder what those shoes would be like...

Would they be like these boudoir slippers (Dec 1854), so lovely that Godey's hesitates to publish a description of them?
(The fine print: The inimitable articles which we have pictured are so lovely, comfortable, and becoming, that we almost hesitate to offer them to our readers, lest many, whose distant or inaccessible residences may render their procurement impossible, will sigh for them. Designed expressly for the boudoir, they are constructed of delicately tinted silks or satins— the particular ones here delineated being respectively a rose-hued satin and pea-green silk of the richest description. They are ornamented with rosettes and that loveliest of all trimmings, the snowlike swan's-down, or equally pure ermine, which is set off by the needleworked lining, which, like the outside, is of taffeta, and also quilted in exquisite workmanship. The inside soles are cushioned, so that the fair wearer may as softly tread as we would have each footstep of a beloved friend— and we mean each and all of our subscribers by that word— through this not-carpeted-with-velvet world.)

Might they be more like these morning slippers, perhaps?
(Ladies' morning slipper, made of blue velvet, embroidered with silver, trimmed around the top with swan's down, and lined with blue quilted satin.)

Or like these Polish red boots, bordered in swans down (November 1863)? By the way, if you didn't know, I have a particular affinity for red boots, so I am quite drawn to these... too bad they are part of a fancy dress costume, not that I'm sure that will dissuade me for long.

(The Polish dress consists of an underskirt of green bordered with scarlet. The corsage and short sleeves are of green, and the long sleeves scarlet. The upper skirt and point are of purple, edged with swan's-down. The sash is of scarlet, with black ends. Boots red, and bordered with swan's-down. Cap scarlet, bordered with swan's-down, and a black feather at the side.
The Louis XIVth costume consists of a petticoat of white satin, with a lace flounce on the edge of the skirt. The overdress is a very rich pink satin, trimmed with roses and quillings of silk. The hair is powdered, and dressed with a small wreath on the left side of the head)

Of course, although the red boots appeal to me greatly, it is possible that they would look to Santa-ish to the modern eye. Perhaps I am better off with white satin boots trimmed in swans down, as in this September 1864 description of a fancy dress costume:
“Snow.” A short white satin skirt, edged with swan's-down, and long crystal beads, imitating icicles. The low bodice is in the Louis XV. form; it is pointed, and made of white satin crossed with a band of swan's-down. In the centre, as an emblem of hope and spring, a tuft of half opened primroses is fastened. The hair is powdered, and underneath the left ear is fastened another tuft of primroses. A necklace of large crystal beads, with long drops in the form of icicles, is worn round the throat. The boots are of white satin, trimmed with swan's down.

Indeed, this "snow" costume sounds entirely appealing. But short of that, I would certainly not sneeze at a pair of pink satin shoes trimmed in swans down. In fact, I might have to make a pair.

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