Years ago, when my husband and I first bought our condominium in Los Angeles, I claimed one of the hall closets as my own. As a New Yorker, I couldn’t believe how many closets there were; my heart swelled at the idea of having one to myself. It was a practical decision more than a selfish one: the closet in question has shelves of various sizes perfectly suited for storing the odds and ends of a woman’s wardrobe. The knowledge that my shoe cupboard, as I came to call it, contains more than shoes may surprise some readers. In fact, it is really a scrapbook of sorts – an invigorating mix of past, present, and future – all rigorously assembled. It is a shoe shop, a glove shop, a fabric and ribbon shop, a millinery, a vintage boutique, a handbag shop, and a medical files storage unit, all confined into one cheerful space. My shoe cupboard enshrines the many things that I hold dear. In it you will find secured in boxes or fabric bags vintage fashion jewelry, silk scarves, Rodo clutches, vintage leather handbags, gloves, and feather scarves. Like a star atop a Christmas tree, my college diploma perches on an uppermost shelf.
Last night, in making arrangements for an upcoming trip, it occurred to me that most people collect postcards when they go traveling. This group breaks down into two categories: those who mail the postcards to friends and family from the place they are in and those who bring them home, storing them in a drawer for safekeeping. I fall into neither of these categories, preferring instead to return home with colorful shopping bags from small local shops or department stores. In my shoe cupboard you can find Barney’s and Saks Fifth Avenue’s special holiday shopping bags and Bergdorf Goodman’s classic lavender bag. A glance into my shoe cupboard and you can visit Christian Louboutin in Paris, Missoni in Rome, KaDeWe, the large German department store in Berlin, and Schostal, the Roman 19th century hosiery shop where the Italian writer Pirandello purchased his socks, as well as the Swiss shop, Friedlin in Basel.
When I’m feeling gloomy and need a reminder of the beauty of life, my shoe cupboard is the place I look. It floods my vision with memories of past adventures, while fueling the desire for prospective travels. Most of all, it reminds me of home.