Sunday, March 1, 2015

Firebird Ash Shoes

Firebird ash shoes - holy..!
These pumps, crafted by Mexican designer Lucita Abarca, caused quite a stir at a recent Sixth Borough fashion show. These crystalline high-heels were grown by Wyrm’s Pass artisans, deep below the Rocky Mountains, using a mixture of firebird ash, waters from the springs at Paradiso, and a variety of secret ingredients, rumored to include Australian fire opals and powdered moonstone. The result of using the firebird ash become immediately recognizable when the heel of the shoe is dragged backward across any dry surface, as it creates an impressive streak of magical fire which can be accurately aimed with a little effort. Ms. Abarca said she wanted a shoe that made a statement, and that statement was “Any bastardo brujo catcalling me on La Plaza de Sangre better be ready to dose his huevos, you know?”  
from Ekaterina and the Firebird,* illustration by Anna & Elena Balbusso
I so much *heart* these shoes. And the statement.

But I can't just leave this here for you all to wonder. This is what could be termed a "Tumblr Tall Tale". There is no Mexican designer named Lucita Abarca (and the name can be roughly translated as "lit shoe" or "shoe of light"). The truth is there truly are so many ingenious inventions and incredible fashion creations out there, this could be a real thing. (Except for perhaps the Firebird ash - I would happily travel the world over to go see a real Firebird!) This wonderfully done GIF doesn't appear to have a "true" source and if you do a little investigating you keep getting sent back to American Wizarding (if you like fantasy storytelling and reference to tales in news, you'll probably enjoy the Tumblr site too - it's wonderfully creative). Despite Vogue-desire being cited as the source, as far as I can tell this is just a wonderful story many of us wish were true. I mean, can you imagine? I immediately think of the possibilities in a flamenco performance, immediately followed by the flammable possibilities in the same flamenco performance! (And if I were still working in ballet I'd be rushing to the Director and asking if we could figure out how to create something like this for a pointe shoes for a new Firebird performance!)

The Firebird illustrated by Luděk Maňásek (FB)
While I couldn't resist posting a Firebird related "product" anyway, it occurred to me that we've never really discussed the tales that circulate the internet via memes and gifs. They're like urban legend wildfire, the way things spread virally these days. I'm not just talking about misconceptions, poor journalism and rumors (which abound and has us constantly checking to see if they're true) but about that heightened-portrayal of reality. It reminds me of Big Fish (the book, though the movie was pretty good up till the end), and the way the father told his son all these slightly left-of-center stories in which it was difficult to tell the real from the unreal.

We do the same all the time with children and it's perpetuated through their own expressions - something we now see vivid evidence of on Tumblr and other teen-driven social media. 

More than ever, fashion sells itself via tales these days - and not just fairy tale fantasy like it used to. Runway shows are now theatrical performances and people are sold the story as much as the look. The look by itself just doesn't grab as much as being able to be part of a story as well. Fashion has always sold an altered reality but these days we see even more effort put into the stories between the seams. The designers and seamsters talk continuously now of what this stitch means, what this "petal" represents etc - something that harks back to traditional folk artisans and the care with which they create things and infuse them with stories.

I think stories that use images like this to grab our attention have made a difference too, like when Katniss "becomes the Mockingjay" in the second Hunger Games movie. I'm talking about the movie specifically because of the visual effects which turn Katniss' false wedding dress into a fiery one, to reveal a dark, winged, Mockingjay dress. The themes of phoenix and hope rising are all over this story and the movie gave us some very strong visuals it's difficult to forget. (You can see a clip from the movie which shows the wonderfully done dress transformation and illustrates the rising rebellion against the system HERE.)

I have to say, I really like seeing this return to Story.

I'll leave you with another Firebird story, also from American Wizarding:
An early morning palm tree fire on Christmas day in Los Angeles 
"Reports are currently coming in from downtown Los Angeles, where a firebird, escaped from a reserve just north of the Mexican city of Tecate, has started its regenerative process within the full sight of Muggle onlookers and authorities. Agents of the Department of Secrecy and Obfuscation (DSO) and the Bureau of Conservation and Magical Resources (CMR) are already on the scene, and spreading the story of a lightning strike and a brittle palm tree. Representatives from both agencies claim that they are empowered by law to practice temporary memory charms on Muggle witnesses to prevent a potential breach of the Statute of Secrecy, and that warrants will later be sought to make the charms permanent. Once the firebird has burned itself out, the agents will collect the remains and repair to a secure facility to allow the creature to regenerate safely before being returned to its normal nesting grounds."  
Report by Donna Maria Garcia, The Antigua Finca Times: February 4, 2015
* If you like Russian tales or the concept of The Firebird I strongly suggest going and reading the short story this illustration was created for at The story is lovely and there are some nice insights in the comments below too. Go have a lovely read HERE.


  1. Amazing!
    (psst, the video link is broken!)

  2. Oh those shoes!! I would so wear them.

  3. I totally thought of Hunger Games/the Mockingjay dress too! Thanks for sharing!

  4. I wanted to say that it's nice to know that someone else also mentioned this as I had trouble finding the same info elsewhere. This was the first place that told me the answer.

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