February 17, 2022

The Cultural Connection Between Music and Shoes

Hey friends and super fans, just some late evening thoughts here on shoes. Yes… You know I love my shoes! Well.. except when they get in my way on stage!

Some of you know I kick off my fabulous shoes on stage in order to be more free to dance and move off and on the stage and among you! It’s amazing how much people mention this to me, and the connection between what I do with my footwear and my music. I was once described as the “barefoot passionate redhead” on stage. Barefoot signifies so much to people…. from freedom, to poverty, to a sexy don’t care attitude… and it’s been included in my show description! As I prepare to start hitting stages again this April, I started thinking about the connection between culture and shoes, and how much more they are than a functional item we put on our feet, even beyond fashion.

Rolling Stone recently published its list of the top 25 most stylish musicians and in the article, the publication emphasized how the “look” of the music is as important as the sound. To entertain an audience, you need to look the part. This may be why the most famous musicians often set fashion trends and create viral moments that reshape our sartorial choices. Fashion in music tells us what’s culturally important, and sets the standard for everyone else. Most importantly, this long-standing connection transcends countries, age groups, and even decades. Gone is the idea that someone’s music, someone’s work, someone’s politics speak for themselves. Today, every choice we make indicates dictates much about people’s impression of us before we even play a note of music, or speak or whatever the case may be. Do we need to consciously move away from this? Can we? Those of you who know me well, know that I LOVE a beautiful pair of pumps, but I also love my music and my pumps should never dictate whether or not my music is deemed to be liked or not! Seems silly but we all do it!

Shoes signify identity and research tells us that owning certain shoes and brands allow people to cement their social identity and connect to larger cultural trends. I remember years ago, one of my favourite Australian actresses once did an interview where she took a stance on environmental issues as she was in a mining town… and then promptly ridiculed on the national news for wearing shoes which required materials that were mined!

Heading back to musical realms, during my degree at Sydney University, shoes and one’s fashion often indicated what instrument you studied. I hate to generalize, and yet I can! Opera singers were often dressed colourfully and stylishly while the string department often wore dark and boring colours, and never dared to stand our in fear of being ridiculed at Friday morning concert practice. Classical music lovers slip into more formal attire and dressy shoes as a sign of honouring tradition and status, much of the time unless you’re Nigel Kennedy and you can almost tell if someone listens to R’n’B or alternative rock from the type of sneakers they wear.

These days, shoes themselves now have passionate fan communities…. this blew me away- one of the most prominent online sneaker platforms I discovered is SoleSavy. As a mom, I wear sneakers a LOT… but I might not join a fan club for them! But this apparently happens! So they promote their sneaker community as fun, safe, and inclusive. Members can discuss their kicks, attend special events, and even help each other build their shoe collection. Sneaker communities can even help you figure out which sneakers your favourite musicians and celebrities are wearing. I wonder if there’s an online community for violinists that love Christian Louboutin? Or opera singers who love red lipstick! Any of you out there? This could be a new thing! Especially if restrictions don’t end soon, yikes! I’d much rather be drinking a lovely red wine and discussing it in person but perhaps this is a good alternative? I miss events like “Wine Women and Shoes”. Perhaps Sole Savy can come up with something like that.

Prince had a signature look on stage, and even his own line of shoes. I had no idea! This is pretty amazing, and these shoes are not to be missed…. check them out! His collection has an other-worldly feel, rich in colours, materials, and details created in collaboration with designers like Donatella Versace. Aside from showing how Prince challenged the status quo of fashion, the exhibit also extends the discussion on how people are naturally drawn to effusive expressions of beauty. And with all that’s going on in the world today, we should seize small doses of happiness wherever we can.

I must go off now and consider what shoes I might next wear on stage! Hoping to draw you all in with my music into effusive expressions of fabulous music!

See you out there…. Sophie XO

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