I told you before that it took me a long time to get into shoes. Part of this is due to Brussels not being the best shoe shopping city. Not that there aren't any cool shoe shops around, it just takes a while to locate them. La Boutique de Mademoiselle François is an excellent example. It's a real gem, but it's a little out of the way. It's on the Verversstraat/Rue des Teinturiers, and Manneke Pis is only a stone's throw away. Still, I rarely see any tourists passing by. Maybe there's something in the guide books to keep them away. The street just around the corner is famous for its gay bars, and my savvy friend Stefan told me earlier today it's nicknamed 'Rue Vaseline'. Enlightening, right?
So maybe vast masses of people aren't keen on passing buy, but I bet the gays approve of Mademoiselle François' little empire. For my part, I was enthralled the first time I saw it. I had never seen such a romantic window display. Just five or six shoes, refined and precious, kept in a bell jar. (Whenever I see the words 'bell jar', I think of Sylvia Plath. I wonder if she would have kept from frying her brain in an oven, had she spent a little more time thinking about frivolities. Never underestimate the power of superficiality.)
It took me at least three more years to enter the store, because I figured the prices would be astronomical. When I started working for a decent wage last august, nothing kept me back, however. My first observation was that the store was just as pretty on the inside as the outside warranted. It's basically the fancy boudoir of a vintage maniac. If I ever were to open a candy store (a persistent childhood dream), this is what it would look like. Maybe not as much plastic legs sticking out of walls, but those are details. I wish I had some pictures of my own to share, but until I decide to invest in a camera, you can see some pictures here and here (old location, same atmosphere and props).
The shoes are pretty, good quality and they're actually priced pretty okay. They have a classic feel, and are mostly vintage inspired. I saw a few pieces today that looked like candy: very colourful, very cute. Not my immediate choice, but they made me smile. There's also a small selection of clothes. A few skirts, tops, and quite some dresses (15 or 20). Again very vintage-y, pretty fabrics and models. They look high quality, maybe even hand-made, I don't know. (Prices run pretty high: 250-350 euros.) But Betty Draper would approve, that's for sure.
I bought two pairs of shoes back in august: the most gorgeous black velvet heels and a pair of ballerinas with pointy toes that were so pretty they made me forget I don't really care for pointy toes. They were still on sale, and I think I paid a little less than 200 euros for both pairs. The lady at the counter (not the feisty owner Mlle François herself, unfortunately) even gave me 10 euros off on top of the discount, because I bought two pairs. I haven't worn the ballerinas all that much, and they still hurt my feet. But the heels. are just. so. comfortable. Wearing them feels like coming home. New shoes ALWAYS hurt, to the point where I think my feet will just go on strike and fall off. These heels don't. They hug my feet. I'm a little in love. So I feel honour-bound to share this with the world wide web. Your feet deserve it, really!