More than a month has gone by – and needless to say it FLEW by – and a lot has happened since the last blog. I have been to Bali – again – to see Echem and to see my Ideal Husband range grow…and grow.

Ideal Husbands - Marlene Kranz's shoe range
Inserting some rubber “anti-slip” into the leather sole of an Ideal Husband…

As per usual, Australian deadlines do not necessarily translate into Asian deadlines – so lots of back and forth as well as sitting around and working on that P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E again – I should be rather champion material very soon…in an ideal world, of course. We’ve been working on some variations of a boot shape based on a vintage style – a VERY vintage style to be more precise. Over some years I have been collecting vintage shoes – what was I thinking living in the tropics??! More than two years ago when going over to Cambodia for a stint of work in the most dusty city on earth (Phnom Penh….what an experience!!???) I packed up all my shoes including those VINTAGE ones….cleaned them, kissed them (as you do!), wrapped them up in acid-free tissue paper and stored them in my VINTAGE suitcase – which I inherited from my German grandfather Hans Carl Schmidt, and which has been traveling with me around the world and finally to Australia, all the way to Darwin. The suitcase itself a delightful piece of craftsmanship – leather straps, enforced edges, polished surfaces, and a rather exquisite interior using some satin dating back approximately about 70 – 80 years.

Vintage German suitcase in Darwin

Unfortunately traveling hasn’t been treating the suitcase very nicely – and storage in the tropics of Australia has done additional damage to the leather to the extent that I had to make the rather heartbreaking decision to LET GO…the leather grip fell off, the leather straps deteriorated, and various unwanted house guests in form of insects did vacate it’s pristine interior…so when taking out my lovely VINTAGE shoes, holding my breath while unfolding that tissue, holding even more breath with the last shred of tissue…..and discovering they are all fine (YESSS!), what I did see was the damage to the case…so I salvaged the original leather tag (with my grandfather’s name still on it! Nice!), moved it over to the lawn for some fresh air and THE MEMORIAL PHOTO…and later that day, sadly, deposited it in the tip…with a somewhat heavy heart.

Detail of suitcase with original paper ticket for travel between Muenchen and Hannover, Germany

So that was that – it is gone now, but I still have my little leather tag….back to those shoes now…those VINTAGE SHOES…have a look at some of them…

Cleaning up those beauties…Vintage shoes

Those brown Edwardian lace-up boots (centre) have never been worn…unlike the black Victorian button-ups right to them…and those black lace-up closed shoes (second pair from left) have most likely been crafted using the SAME last for the left and the right shoe….it hasn’t been that long since people started using specific, differently shaped lasts for the left and the right foot…and the needle work on the left hand pair of strappy closed shoes is simply astounding…glass beads incredibly tiny (imagine the kind of needle they have used!) together with metal thread embroidery on a very small scale…hours, days if not weeks of HANDWORK…a level of quality and detail very very rare in our current times. Having unearthed those shoes again after years in storage, my belief in outstanding craftsmanship and quality is stronger than ever….and is the fundamental drive behind my IDEAL HUSBANDS….as I hope to re-create a certain understanding and appreciation for quality and artisan’s skills. On a less tangible level, I am dreaming about timeless elegance, the redeeming features of beautiful objects and, of course, the uplifting of the soul in the presence of beauty…no mean feast!

What a beauty…black Victorian button-ups with stacked leather heels….very much worn and loved by someone long gone…

So this is the challenge…good to have one, keeps me thinking almost day and night! Currently working on a pair of boots reminiscent to those shown above – but most certainly with a contemporary twist….used the overall shape as an inspiration, but without the toe-crunching killer front…still very pointy, but much less giving pediatricians any reason to complaint….much….as this is my other challenge – keep those HUSBANDS comfortable as well as charming and oh-so flattering….then playing around with the heel a bit, moving it around under the shoe, to date rather happy with some rounded tilted rod-like heel…tried and tested by myself, and comfortable indeed!

Contemporary take on an antique. Elongated toe with silver leather application, black upper with black ornamental ankle fringe, round, tilted “rod” heel. Leather sole with “anti-slip” inserts.

Now working on different version of same boot, but with visible platform (as opposed to covered internal one like the one above) and some version of “antique” heel shape, possible involving some aluminum sheets….I am eagerly awaiting the sample with the RED platforms, RED heels and those Chinese vibes…timeless in an Asian way…Back in Bali in about two weeks for more work on the range, and the those BOXES…fingers crossed!

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