London court shoes have in common?
Both are labeled and use a brand identity to associate the user with their product, whether it be from the 18th century or the 20th. The Nike Tailwinds feature the registered patent number on the sole and on the inside of the tongue, proudly announce that "the Nike name and Swoosh stripe are your guarantee of quality. Made in U.S.A." In a similar manner, James Davis has affixed a specially designed label to his shoes, stating his occupation as shoemaker and his location, "near Aldgate, London."
Both are incredibly well worn - albeit for different purposes - but with similar results. My Nikes have little left of the tread, they are knotted, stained, torn and frayed. Mehitable's court shoes are also well-worn, torn, faded and frayed. A look at them from above or from the back makes this clear - just as the Nikes interior foam is now crumbling, so too the silk of the London shoe is shattered.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the shoes - in both instances- made the wearer feel empowered. For me, my Nikes started a cross country running adventure. I had just started as a junior at a new school and could not run the length of a football field; by the end of November I was running 5-8 miles a day. While one can never know for sure how Mehitable Rindge Rogers felt clad in her silk London shoes with three inch heels, but one can speculate that she felt some measure of success and composure. While wearing her shoes, she was in control of her domain, at least for some span of time. And isn't that why, at the core, we love some of our shoes, selecting certain ones while eschewing others?
All images of Mehitable Rindge Rogers shoes are reproduced courtesy The Warner House Museum, Portsmouth, NH. See SilkDamask archive for previous posts on labeled Georgian shoes and contemporary shoes designed by Emma Hope, London.