21 May Bethesda Front Row 2012 – “God Save My Shoes” Film Screening
by ATFDC Contributor Susan Stipanovich
The first major event of the Front Row 2012 weekend, the ‘God Save My Shoes’ film screening at the Bethesda Row Landmark Theater was a lackluster start to the shopping center’s annual celebration of all things fashion. Despite significant advertising for the last few weeks, it was an average Thursday night at the Landmark Theater, with only a small kiosk for guests to check in to the film with event staff and almost no signage to be found. The theater was comfortably full of women in groups of twos and threes, discussing their favorite shoes and plotting ways to make their next purchase. Guests were keen to be in a theater filled with women who shared their lust for designer heels and could be overheard checking off the features of their dream shoe closets.
As the room darkened the audience eagerly looked to the screen in hushed anticipation, they were immediately met with several whirlwind interviews with shoe enthusiasts pointing around their perfectly organized closets, discussing their favorite heels and why certain pairs appealed to them. In the opening minutes of the film, Beth Shak, a professional poker player and by far one of the most obsessive characters of the documentary, stroked her Louboutins and explained “I went through a period in my life where I was really unhappy, and the only thing that made me happy was buying a pair of shoes.”
The next hour featured interviews with extreme shoe lovers, fashion historians and editors, psychologists, sex experts, shoe fetishists, and star designers Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik, Walter Steiger, Pierre Hardy, and Bruno Frisoni. Celebrities such as Fergie, Kelly Rowland and Dita Von Teese, and fashion expert Barbie were also featured guests of the documentary. Earnest psychologists waffled on about the utility of stilettos to convey social status and sexual availability, explaining in detail how heels empower women while glazing over the fact that designer heels inhibit them from walking further than the few steps from the valet to their dinner table. Interviewees gushed about how ‘Sex and the City’ brought to light the universal truth that all women love shoes, reinforcing their belief that designer heels (with their designer price tags) are a staple of every American woman’s closet.
The film closed and despite the urging of Washingtonian Magazine fashion editor Kate Bennett to stay and chat with the film’s executive producer Thierry Daher, most guests politely exited the theater. Awards for best heels were given out to a few lucky attendees as Mr. Daher eased himself up to the front of the theater in his custom made, silver-studded loafers, which he insisted were made originally for Justin Timberlake. The question and answer session was relatively short-lived, with one audience member grilling Mr. Daher on producing a film that encouraged women to “dress like prostitutes”, and other guests inquiring about the experience of making the film, with specific curiosity about which of the interviewees had the best shoe collection.
‘God Save My Shoes’ was an inarticulate stream of consciousness that fell short of justifying women’s cultural craving for designer heels and failed to incite enthusiasm from the first Front Row 2012 guests.
Susan Stipanovich is a stylist and writer who lives and works in Washington D.C. She researches counter terrorism methods and international security sector reform in Africa and the Middle East by day as a Department of Defense associate and spends her free time curating a fashionable lifestyle through her blog Hepburn Loves Givenchy.