When I first moved to New York, I thought I had no business walking into stores like Prada, where the only thing I could afford was a keychain. I'd meander down Fifth Avenue and stare respectfully at the windows, but would never go inside.
I know that a lot of people feel the same way when they pass Chanel or Gucci. But why put designer shoes or purses on a pedestal so high that we can't even touch them? Aren't they meant to be carried, worn, and enjoyed the same as ones that we would buy at Target or Filene's Basement? Why should I feel awkward walking into Dior just because they sell $3000 purses? I walk into plenty of stores without buying anything.
Last season, I was seeing Yves Saint Laurent's cage heels in every magazine I picked up. They were so architectural, striking, and modern. I was dying to get a closer look. Feeling particularly bold one afternoon, I marched myself over to the YSL store on 57th street to satisfy my curiosity. When I was asked if I needed any help, I heard myself say,"Can I see these in a size 39, please?" pointing to the cage heels. I tried on several versions of the shoe and cat-walked back and forth for a good 15 minutes, stopping to inspect them at each pass in the gigantic mirror. They were on sale at the time, but still so expensive that I almost blanched when the model-handsome salesman told me the price. (Originally $1390).
Despite the fact that I couldn't afford the shoes, it was really a fun experience, one that I highly recommend. Now, when I see the cage heels in a magazine, they are no longer some fantasy. They are actual shoes that have been on my feet. I know that the metal heel is fairly heavy and that the sandals have a slightly higher heel than the booties. I know what it feels like to tie the velvet ribbon around my ankle. And if, years from now, I come across them on eBay, I know what size will fit me...(YSL pedestal illustration: © Littlehouse of Style; YSL boots from Surface Magazine, issue 77, photo by Isabelle Bonjean; YSL cage heels product shots from Net-a-Porter.com)