VIVIENNE WESTWOOD ROCKING HORSE BALLERINA SHOES.
In 1993, British Punk/New Wave designer Vivienne Westwood asked Naomi Campbell to debut her latest shoe design on the runway. The supermodel took a few steps… and fell flat on her face.
Many expected the bizarre flat-soled platform with a cut-out heel to be a (heh heh) flop. Instead, it became one of Westwood’s signature pieces. A decade later, her Rocking Horse ballerina shoes and boots have found a new audience. In the words of Momoko from the novel Kamikaze Girls (Shimotsuma Monogatari), the shoes are “Lolita must-haves (they go with any Lolita outfit).” (P13) Those who have seen her Rocking Horses boots in the Kamikaze Girls film will find it hard to disagree. (Click here for more photos of the shoes).
Momoko decides that “Vivienne Westwood’s Rocking Horse Ballerinas [..] were absolutely essential for full Lolitahood” (P43). But how can a Japanese schoolgirl afford an authetic pair? Momoko makes up a nonsensical tear-jerker about a classmate who can’t afford to pay an unlicensed heart surgeon. The Loser (her father) bursts into tears and hands over “close to a hundred thousand yen [$850 US]” (P43). Naturally, the money goes straight to her feet.
If you have a Loser or Sugar daddy, getting the real deal is a piece of cake. You can custom order Rocking House shoes from Vivienne Westwood herself for about $500. For vintage versions from the early 90s, search on eBay or order them from the Japanese Lolita + Punk website for about $850 (which is what Momoko paid).
If you’re low on cashmonies, fret not. The popularity of Gothic Lolita fashion in Japan has spurred a number of knockoffs. Bona fide Westwoods have heels made of wood; the shoes are heavy but sturdy and relatively comfortable to walk in. The Rocking Horse “tributes” tend to have foam or plastic heels, which are lighter but less durable.
>> The eBay Lolita store Refuse To Be Usual sells Montreal brand Rocking Horse-style boots and lace-up ballerina platforms for $70-80. These shoes are made of synthetic leather and a wood-like material. The online shop is based in Taipei, Taiwan.
>> 69 Department Store is a Japan-based online retailer of Lolita shoes and clothing. You can buy Rocking Horse fakes there for $60-75.
>> Korea’s Rose Chocolat sells Lolita shoes and undergarments on their website. Their Rocking Horse-esque shoes retail for about $105.
>> For yet another Westwood variation, try Chinese shoe seller Lolita Lola. Her designs are about $100 a pair.
Like many Gothic Lolita wearables, Rocking Horse shoes are simply darling – but how practical are they? Well, don’t plan on doing any vigorous activity. The platforms will raise you several inches from the ground, and they do rock back and forth (hence the name). Momoko found out that they aren’t exactly suited for bicycling: “Pedaling with the platform Rocking Horse Ballerinas meant I could never quite figure out where the soles of my feet were in relation to the pedals, so I’d end up braking abruptly or falling over while trying to get around a curve.” (P34)
So did she throw out her Rocking Horses, or switch to sneakers? Of course not. Like any sane Lolita, she simply stopped riding her bike!