When I first moved to Connecticut, Sid and I did not know Darien from Davenport… but a friend out there was giving up her apartment above a stable, and it looked like a dreamy place to live. I have a history of quick real estate decisions — my current move is one of those, and I hope it will be my last! Anyway, I fell for the stable place. Within two months we had sold our NY apartment (mistake as it is now worth 10x what we paid) and acquired two cars, a Metro-North pass, and the biggest win of all: a slot by lottery into Noroton Presbyterian Nursery School for our 2-year-old.
There were many new things to observe in our new world as Connecticut residents. One of them was that when you'd make a new friend and visit their huge suburban home, you'd see that in addition to the cars and preschool slots and train passes, they had gotten big Labs. We would ring the doorbell and every time it was the same. The dog would bark, knock the toddler over, sniff you in an embarrassing way. The worst! The host would apologize, but I was pretty clear. No dogs for us. Another observation: grosgrain bows on clip barrettes, in the hair of every little girl in town. Everywhere. HUGE bows. Of course I tried to make my own, being craft and cheap, but in the end they tore the girls' hair and I kind of gave up and just gave them ponytails and braids and wrapped regular ribbon around the hair elastics. Cuter anyway. We had a few colors – reds and whites, I think – but mostly, mostly black. My favorite memory of this time is when my daughter Daisy was about 4, and finally noticed the ribbon I had been putting in her hair for years. She looked at me and said "mama, why do I have this?" She was always – and still is – the most tomboyish of all my girls, but also the most agreeable. She never would have complained, and frankly, she didn't care. The bow was in the back and it didn't get in the way of climbing and grubbing around in the dirt.
When I was an assistant at Vogue, a huge part of my job was preparing the prop kit and keeping it stocked. It was a metal suitcase filled with lint brushes, pincushions, tape for the bottoms of the shoes, robes for the models… Another humiliation: I was supposed to offer them the robe, and they would literally look down at me – I am 5'2" – and laugh. As if any of them cared about covering up. But this ritual was "Polly's way" and part of the theatrics of a day on set. The other ridiculous item I remember is smelling salts. I have no idea what they were for. In case… someone fainted?? The salts and the robes may have been useless, but the bag of ribbons was fantastic. She had beautiful 3-inch wide ribbons made of heavy silk in black and pale ballet pink, and scraps of leather that could be braided into a model's hair. But the most handy – and the one I used over and over again – was the narrower black grosgrain. Polly would often purr compliments to the models to put them at ease, but especially when she would place bow in her hair as a "final touch." Oftentimes it was the final touch. Those kinds of details can make the picture. I might have rolled my eyes, but when the film came back, I could see the impact. That woman was completely ruthless, but she was brilliant. So while I couldn't get on board with the big preppy bows in my own girls' hair, the black grosgrain ribbon was perfect. The color stopped it from feeling too sweet.
Anyway: THAT is our Bridgette Shoe. It is sweet and feminine, but dark and groovy at the same time. I love this shoe so much. It is actually built on the same last as our Buckle Shoe and shares a lot of similarities… but it feels different enough to want this one, too. Instead of the buckle, it has a flat grosgrain bow on the front (kind of a nod to the Italians and the flat, straight bow that Ferragamo does so well in a million different iterations.) There was a pair of Ferragamos I got years ago from eBay that I just loved. Once, we got to visit a factory that makes some of their shoes in a small town in Italy, and I am still furious at Sid for leaving just ONE of the shoes with them when we were discussing a new style to make together. It was years ago, but now I have this chic new pair that will make up for it. And honestly these are cooler than the one left behind – those leaned a bit dowdier. And actually that is part of the charm! It can be tricky to land on the right side of "so frumpy it's cool" vs. church lady. Our head of design, Lan, will sometimes get a quizzical look on her face and wonder aloud: "hmm is this Barbara Bush or Kate Moss?" So much of what we make is based on classics that we need to ask that question a lot. A little bit of attitude or a slight design tweak (grosgrain or leather in the prop kit) can take something from looking fusty and overly preppy to cool and chic. This shoe is Kate Moss, the one left behind is Barbara for sure. You need them, I promise.