I like to think I'm not that materialistic (okay...I'm lying, I am) but right now I am as happy as a pig in the proverbial. A pair of boots I've been wanting since 2005 have turned up on my doorstep. Behold:
These are Fluevog Grand Nationals.
The Grand Nationals were my dream boot. I first spied them in '04/'05 when the re-runs were being promoted. I ummed and ahhed, but having just started University I was pretty broke having spent all my money on pies and beer. Also, with the internet in its infancy, I seem to recall that Fluevog at the time only took payment from us international types via carrier pigeon. Not really, it was international money order, which I never got the hang of. Thank God for Paypal!
Anyway, I kept half an eye out in the subsequent years. They popped up occasionally, but always right after a mortgage payment had gone out, and usually in a size that led me to contemplate whether I'd really miss the ends of my toes. And then while idly browsing ebay, I found that a seller had listed a whole bunch of nearly new pairs. In my size. I was on a train at the time and I believe my fellow passengers may have thought I was having some kind of seizure.
A little history
The original line - 1999, if the internet is to be believed - came in black, saddle brown with a black heel (what I have) and what looks like black/very dark brown pony fur, in both the knee version and the shoes.
They had a cream lining and ran pretty much true to size, according to The Internet. For reference, in case anyone stumbles across this, like some kind of time capsule, and needs help with the sizing (also, if anyone wants to buy me shoes), I'm a UK 6 with wide feet, and I usually go for an 8.5 in US sizes, and mine are a US 9. (As an aside, the size charts that say UK 6 is equivalent to a US 8 are fibbing, in my humble opinion, just like clothes conversion charts also fib - I'm a UK 10 and I have several things in a US 2 that fit - explain that, rational sizing). Anyway, the 9s fit me fine. I tend to like heeled boots to fit large anyway, since then I can put my super glamorous hiking socks on if my feet are cold.
The Christmas 2004 reissues reproduced the original knee high black boot, and added an outré red pony fur sister, along with a black half-length corset style. According to the Fluevog website, they brought them back due to 'intense customer demand'. I like to think it was a matter of passion and threats. In truth, it was probably a response to the fact that they were regularly changing hands for $800 on the secondary market.
The resissues were lined in red leather and ran a half to a full size small (both versions only came in full sizes). They also had the maxim 'run your race with perseverance, never give up' in gold on the interior, and 'Fluevog' etched above the heel. Isn't flickr great? You can also see the corset style on video here (the blog is probably not safe for work, unless you work somewhere pretty liberal).
Measuring from my pair, the heel is 5 1/2 inches with a 1 1/4 inch platform. They have a very rounded toe box which is good if you have wide feet, and are as comfortable to walk in as you could expect heels that high to be. They're about 12 inches around the calf, but can be unlaced for bigger calves. This is good for me, since I have showjumper's calves. Indeed, that's why these boots have such enormous sentimental value for me. I've been riding for as long as I can remember, and so the idea of combining two of my favourite things - ponies and seriously hot boots - was a complete winner.
You can even wear them in the bath!
What about mine?
I was very fortunate to get these. Not just because they're horribly rare (brown was only produced in the original run in quite small quantities; I had only managed to find one picture of them online before mine arrived) but because I was very much reliant on the kindness and generosity of a really awesome seller. I stumbled across these (after intending to buy practical winter boots - oops) at the worst possible time. I contacted the seller to ask some general questions, and then in very short order that week, my granddad had a heart attack, I blew a car tyre, my better half's granddad was rushed into hospital with cancer, and we had some bad financial news. It was also a month away from my next payday (I get paid quarterly) so all in all, I was feeling as though it wasn't meant to be.
But such heartache! I was really sad to think that I would let a pair get away from me again - especially since he had a pair of the brown ones in my size, and I had never even seen a pair of the brown 9s before. (I love black, don't get me wrong - but I wear brown more frequently, and I felt that with a pair of boots as infamous as the Grand Nationals, brown was less obviously fetish than black and therefore more wearable). So I ummed and ahhed and fretted. I dreamt about them. Then the seller very kindly offered to hold a pair for me for a month to allow me time to raise the funds. After deliberating for all of about ten seconds, I went for it. Since finances are pretty tight at the moment I had to sell a lot of things to make up the money. But it was totally worth it. I actually quite enjoyed clearing out my closet for a purpose, and I know the things I sold when to homes that will be every bit as appreciative of their purchases as I am of these.
So, about six weeks later, these beauties turned up on my doorstep. I couldn't be happier. To prove it, here's a nauseating number of pictures from every possible angle.