Sunday, February 10, 2019


 Jennie Churchill had small, beautiful feet, and she was passionate about shoes. She displayed hers like candy on the shelves of her boudoir--found art. And it was her last pair of coveted Italian slippers that killed her.

Hurrying down a flight of stairs to join her hostess for tea--Jennie was always late--she tripped and fell, fracturing her leg. In an era without antibiotics, Jennie suffered a typical fate. Her leg became infected, eventually gangrenous, and had to be amputated. Jennie famously told the surgeon to "Cut high," because she wanted what we'd call clear margins. Ten days after the operation, she hemorrhaged suddenly at breakfast. She lost consciousness in seconds and was gone in moments.

Winston, who lived a few blocks away, ran through the streets of London in his pajamas to reach her when he learned the news. She was already gone.

So, shoes.
The Manolo Blahnik or Laboutin of Jennie's lifetime was an Italian, naturally--Pietro Yantornay. His shoes, handcrafted in Paris, are the footwear-equivalent of Worth's gowns or Lalique's jewelry: complex miracles of craft, one-offs of the shoemaker's art. All the shoes shown here are Yantornay's. Many are held in the Metropolitan Museum's fashion collection, others can be seen in museums around the world. He was active throughout the Edwardian period and the 1920s, making it possible Jennie may have owned his shoes.

 Worth dying for?

Hard to say.
But we all have to go sometime. Jennie went out dancing.

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