~ Rio fashion story ~

On a Thursday morning in Ipanema: I take my two and half year old daughter, Priscilla,  to the 'Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz' park,  then we go to a cafe nearby for my espresso and her suco de laranja & pão de queijo.
Afterwards we duck into a  boutique -  a sleek air-conditioned space with two discrete levels of chic Rio-style fashions and many mirrors. I browse for ideas for my own little vanity project - personal couture in Brazil (I have an excellent steamstress in Sao Paulo who can copy clothes).   Priscilla also enjoys looking at the high heels,  jewels and dresses.  We left after admiring a handbag of fine suede scales with a  gold chain,  a black silk skirt with shot through with subtle rainbow stripes, tiny bits of gold and a flowing belt,  and a sheer pink dress with ruffled pastel roses, Priscilla's 'favorite' .

Then we go back out onto the street.
 I  have to stay outside for two more hours while my husband uses our tiny temporary apartment as his  'office'.
Barely a two meters away from the boutique I spotted a whore's shoe abandoned on the sidewalk… 
A sharp pointed steel stiletto heel with front platform rise made out of shiny fake wood.  The toe thong  formed by a narrow strip of leather; the insole made from padded cream-colored satin. It felt like the essence of Rio- seductive and a bit dangerous.

Style visionary Diana Vreeland visited Brazil in 1959  when she edited the fashion pages of Harpers Bazaar and the same year that the film Orfeu Negro ("Black Orpheus") poplarized Bossa Nova music . She was interviewed in Rio de Janerio by El Globo. She said that while flying over the Amazon Rain forest she imagined seeing huge crocodiles with orchids coming out of their mouth. She said this should be the symbol for Brazil or  else a 'beautiful sexy burnette' translated in Portuguese as "uma morena bonita e sensual" This whore's  high heel embodied both of DV's symbols. 

I hesitated twice before picking up the scratched steel stiletto. Then turned my head to see if anyone was looking…a man came by and seemed to offer it to me as if I had dropped it. I quickly picked it up and tossed it into the bottom of basket of the Maclaren .
'How perfect' I thought.. I will bring it back to that tiny apartment and perhaps it can be amusing for my husband  to look at  while he is writing his article about music in Rio's favelas.

Priscilla had spotted the shoe too and immediately she wanted to play with it.
She wanted to come out of her carriage so  I unstrapped her. She wasted no time in putting the shoe on. She managed to actually hobble along the bumpy mosaic sidewalk wearing the single towering heel. 

Still an hour and a half to go…I decided to not to put her back in the carriage but to let her walk all the way home. 

We got off the main drag and into the beautiful tree lined streets  with huge tropical plants growing in contained openings in the sidewalk. The dirty whore's shoe became her baby 'boneca'-doll. 
 She placed it  every platforms and step we passed. She put the shoe in-between the iron gates that protect most apartment buildings.   To her delight the rubber bottom lining of the shoe started to peel off. She stopped to give  the whore's shoe a pretend diaper change. 
The insole of the shoe also started to peel open. She stopped to feed the whore' s shoe some feijão e arroz, then she wrapped the shoe up in paper towel ' blanket' to have a nap. 

I started to notice  looks from mothers on the street bringing their children home from school. I finally wrestled the shoe from her & tossed it back under the carriage. As soon as we get home, I give Priscilla a bath.

We forgot about the shoe until the evening. On our way to dinner I pulled it out of the baby carriage to show my husband. He said 'throw it away'. When Priscilla turned her head, I discretely tossed the single stiletto into a tropical sidewalk garden.

{images: Harper's Bazaar cover 1959;
Giusseppe Zanotto gold stiletto sandals discovered via this is glamorous;
Rio Crocodillo"Tropicalismo" Wallpaper by Lenny Kravitz & Flavor Paper}

{SR's original research about Diana Vreeland in Brazil is from DV's archives at the New York Public Library Humanties and Social Sciences Manuscripts and Archives Division}

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