Roses are Red, Like Valentine Hearts,
Little Doll Slippers, And Cupid’s Love Darts
Red is a powerful color that is at the center of Valentine’s Day. It is the hue of roses, hearts, chubby vintage girls in frilly dresses adorning dainty cards, and yes, shoes!
In symbolism, red is the color of LOVE and of WAR. It stirs up PASSION. Red is associated with energy and the emotions that stir the blood ~ anger, passion, and love.
Babies in Renaissance Europe were sometimes swaddled with red bands and wrapped in a red cloth as a form of protection. Because of the passion of red, in Victorian times, pink was considered to be too strong a color for baby girls, so the cooler light-blue was the color for girls, while pink and red were reserved for baby boys.
Red shoes have a mythology and symbolism of their own. They usually symbolize power and distinction. Senators and high officials of ancient Rome wore red shoes called calceus mulleus. In the Christian world, the Pope’s red velvet slippers symbolize the blood of martyrs and the Pope’s submission to the ultimate authority of Jesus Christ. In the French court of Louis XIV, red shoes were worn by Courtiers to distinguish them from other aristocrats. Of course, the style was copied and became fashionable outside of Court as well. Understandably, red shoes went out of fashion in France, though, after the French Revolution.
And then there is Hans Christian Andersen’s tale of The Red Shoes, in which a greedy girl manipulates her benefactor to obtain the costly red shoes she desires, and then she cannot stop dancing. While this tale has an element of the macabre, red shoes are redeemed again in the Ruby Slippers that Dorothy wears in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz. Here again, the red shoes are powerful!
Today, modern designers may battle over who has the patent rights to red shoes; however, red shoes were a common and lovely fashion accessory for 19th century young girls, and therefore, for dolls as well.
Three of my china dolls have red shoes or boots (including the exquisite narrow handmade lace-up red leather boots on a lady doll who you will meet in more detail in a future post). One china doll has pink china shoes, and one wee bisque doll has mauve glazed china boots. I also chose red leather shoes for my reproduction Izannah Walker doll.
And, as you can see, red shoes are still in vogue, for big and little people today. They are still powerful, romantic, and whimsical!
Perhaps a commentary on blue shoes is warranted next . . .
May Aphrodite and Cupid bring you the splendors of the season this Valentine’s Day!