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Posts from the ‘Adolf Loos’ Category

Walking a Mile in Another’s Shoes – Tis the Season for Less is More

Be not afraid of being called unfashionable.
Adolf Loos (Austrian architect, designer and critic)

Into extreme sports? Suffering temporary insanity? Dodging dish duty? Or simply frugal-minded? Whatever possessed you to head out on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving to be one of the first 50 shoppers to land the two-for-one Elf-on-a-Shelf giveaway, it was surely only your primal will to survive that returned you home Friday evening, safe and sound after a day of elbowing through phubbing teenagers in the Yankee Candles shop and umbrella-yielding Omas in the Piercing Pagoda.

Tis the season, eh? Was it worth it?

I admit the frenzied excitement that fills the air when the colorful flyers flood the mailbox the Wednesday before Black Friday. Perhaps it evokes memories of the days when the Sunday funnies came in color and you anxiously awaited those. But did you ever stop to ask yourself why? And why aren’t things lasting like they did back in the day? That big TV set that your family had from the time you were allowed to watch cartoons until the time you graduated high school; the microwave oven that was so enormous you could crawl in and hide and also probably gave you and Fido a nearly lethal dose of radiation every time you nuked some popcorn but the dang thing just wouldn’t quit. Things lasted FOREVER – just like Auntie Emm’s indestructible fruit cake.

And now?

They don’t.


And the reason? Many. But one is discussed in this story from March of this year on NPR’s All Things Considered entitled In Trendy World Of Fast Fashion, Styles Aren’t Made to Last.

And that’s kinda sad. And it’s what I thought about on Black Friday here in Austria, when I wasn’t engaging in self-defense leg kicks in the Home Décor department of my local Target trying to hold on to the last Threshold Decorative Stag Head Wall Sculpture (maybe I would have been tempted, had Austria had a Target and the Stag came in a wider variety of colors, like hot pink, for instance). No. I wasn’t there so if you come over to my place looking for Mr. Stag decked out in tinsel you’re bound to be disappointed.

Yildiz Shoe Service Shop

Yildiz Shoe Service Shop


Black Friday I was picking up my boots from the shoemaker, Mr. Yildiz, who was explaining to me all the steps he took to put my favorite, very-worn Italian leather boots back into fine beautiful working (walking) condition. Better than new.

Who is this hero capable of breathing old leather back to life?

Mr. Yildiz  came to Austria from Turkey almost 20 years ago. At the time, he hardly spoke a word of German.

Mr. Yildiz from Yildiz Shoe Service

Mr. Yildiz from Yildiz Shoe Service

He started an apprenticeship in an orthopedic shoemaker shop in the 8th district where they made orthopedic inserts for shoes in addition to doing normal repairs.  The start was difficult requiring him to take home his instruction booklets at night and translate them word for word to get by. But after a three-year apprenticeship he could call himself a shoemaker and continued working in the shop for over 15 years. When the shop’s owner retired well into his 70s, a family business over a century old came to an end and Mr. Yildiz decided to strike it out on his own.

Made to Order Shoes at Yildiz Shoe Service Shop in Vienna

Made to Order Shoes at Yildiz Shoe Service Shop in Vienna

Lucky for me, Mr. Yildiz found himself a shop in the 2nd district and now for over two years, he has been sewing, stretching, patching and polishing life into shoes in his own place since.


I talked to the expert shoemaker about his skills and the craft and about shoes in general. Mr. Yidliz laments that it is often difficult to find a really fine pair of well-made shoes nowadays. Maybe the mass produced shoes are cheaper and more trendy than their hand-made competition but Mr. Yildiz’s doesn’t understand why anyone would want to be constantly replacing their shoes after a month or two. Because let’s face it, nothing fits you as well as an old pair of shoes that have walked with you for weeks, months — if you’re lucky – years. And every time your wee little toe presses the leather on the side and your heel against the back, and your arch against the sole, you are indenting that shoe to fit exactly your foot and no one else’s.

Made to Order Belts at Yildiz Shoe Service Shop in Vienna

Made to Order Belts at Yildiz Shoe Service Shop in Vienna

No one else’s shoe and no new shoe will fit you quite like the one you’ve worn.

So maybe rather than snatching up the next bargain this holiday season, we should go for less presents but higher quality – giving things that will last.

 And if you live in Vienna, I highly recommend the services of Mr Yildiz, who gave me permission to put his information on my blog (he has no website of his own), so here it is:

Yildiz Shoe Service, Gredlerstraße 2, 1020 Vienna (just walk over the Marienbrücke bridge from Schwedenplatz or take the no. 2 tram one stop to Marienbrücke).

Opening Times:

Mr. Yildiz in his Shoe Repair Shop in Vienna

Mr. Yildiz in his Shoe Repair Shop in Vienna

Mon – Thurs: 7:30  – 18h
Fri: 7:30 – 12.30 pm and 14.30 – 18h
Sat: 7.30  – noon
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Stilettos, Life and Loos

Modern women in Stilettos

Adolf Loos lived at the turn of the century in Vienna. He was not only a renowned architect and designer but an opinionated social critic on everything from Austrian cuisine to women’s clothing.

In an article entitled, “Fußbekleidung,” Loos comments on how footwear reflects historical changes in lifestyles. “If you go to New York, you always get the feeling that an accident has occurred somewhere.” He writes that when people walked less, “high platform heels came to reign, which were indeed fit for the park and castle but not for the street.” He goes on to state (over one hundred years ago(!)), “… in this century, the human foot is going through a change. Our social circumstances demand that we be faster from year to year. Time is money.”

Oh yes, Herr Loos. Time is indeed money. Then as now. And for this reason, shoes change. So I (humbly) pose the question, what does this mean for the stiletto?

“Stiletto, how did she get to stilettos?” you ask.

Fact is, two manuscripts I critiqued this past year for guy friends contained smart, sassy career women who waltzed about their demanding day jobs in stilettos. When I suggested that these authors tone down their mantasies by at least having these women place their stilettos in their purses and simply whip them out for short periods of time, to bash the bad guy over the head, for example, my suggestions were met with scoffs and eye rolls. (Granted, I couldn’t see these otherwise very talented and sensible writers but I knew. I just knew).

So what is the stiletto appeal?

They’re definitely not cheap, comfortable or practical (the Zalando guy delivering them would never be caught dead wearing them). And they definitely do not reflect the typical modern woman’s lifestyle of running from daycare to work to the grocery store, back to daycare, soccer practice and home to cook dinner. Do all that in shoes tall enough to help you step over a tall building in a single bound, and you are liable to face some of the problems explored in this very enlightening article on the topic entitled appropriately enough, “High Heel Horrors“. I mean, bunions, bony growths, back pain, hammertoes – that’s sexy?!

No, really. Be honest now.

Loos predicted in his article that, “Lace shoes will dominate the coming century, like the riding boots did the last.” He was right about that. It makes me wonder what he would have written about the stilettos. Somehow a part of me fears he would have preferred them as well.

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