“Which shoes do you prefer with my dress?” », asks Anna Karina at the start of Jean-Luc Godard’s film, Made in USA (1966). Her character Paula Nelson, whose fiancé, a journalist, was murdered, takes aim at a strange little gentleman named Edgar Typhus (Ernest Menzer) in an impersonal hotel room. The conversation is tense, then Anna Karina softens, puts down her gun and, taking out two pairs of babies, asks him: “The blues or the whites? »
The answer is not intelligible: with the heel of one of her shoes Anna Karina stuns her interlocutor and, in voiceover, comments: “Already fiction prevails over reality. Already blood and mystery, already I have the impression of navigating in a Walt Disney film but played by Humphrey Bogart, therefore in a political film. »
It’s a bit far-fetched, but there is in this pair of shoes that has become a weapon by destination a strange paradox mixing the world of childhood and politics. Before being a blunt object at Godard, babies were shoes for the model little girls of the American bourgeoisie – marketed and gendered from the start of the 20th century.e century, whereas they were previously unisex.
In the 1960s, it was young women who appropriated them and made them, all things considered, a tool of emancipation. Less constraining than shoes with high or thin heels, the babies make it possible to roam with flexibility the streets of Swinging London where, in the wake of the British Mary Quant, the feminine silhouette is redrawn.
Central accessory of the stylekinderwhore, which develops within the American punk and grunge scenes and jubilantly diverts the codes of the wise little girl.
A generation later, in the 1990s, the babies are found at the feet of American musicians: central accessory of the stylekinderwhore, which develops within the American punk and grunge scenes and jubilantly diverts the codes of the wise little girl. Leader: Courtney Love, leader of the group Hole, whose panoply mixes crumpled nighties, tangled hair and poses “knees inside”. The minimum required to swing feminist slogans for glossy paper: “Real girls aren’t perfect and perfect girls aren’t real. »
But then the bridle tightens and the babies seem to settle down to become the prerogative of characters whose style borders on neurosis – in a more or less ironic way: version Manolo Blahnik high perched in Carrie Bradshaw, the heroine of the series Sex and the City, or Carel varnished in Emily in Paris. In the cult movie clueless (1996), by Amy Heckerling, a nice satire freely inspired byEmma, by Jane Austen, we find them at the feet of Cher Horowitz, a daddy’s girl from Beverly Hills who falls in love without realizing it with the son of her ex-mother-in-law – a student without style and reader of Nietzsche. “Only the thoughts that come to you as you walk have value,” wrote the latter in Twilight of the idols. All the more reason to choose your shoes wisely.