My first pair of Ananias sandals happened by accident. I wandered into the import store across the street from my office, hoping for a little Friday treat (a cotton scarf, a silver bangle, a tube of essential oil — that sort of thing). And there, among the over-stuffed racks of kurtas and heaped displays of incense, I noticed a wicker basket piled with leather sandals.
I am a sandals girl. Not in the Birkenstocks-and-peasant-skirts fashion, but in the religiously-painted-toenails-displayed-through-thin-leather-straps sense. Jackie O on vacation in Greece. As soon as the weather turns warm enough, I pack away my boots and free last year’s favorite sandals from their box, condition the leather, and slip them on with trouser jeans. Or shorts. Or skirts. Or, heck, pretty much anything.
The fact that I spied the tangle of Ananias sandals in the import store wasn’t surprising (my eye is well trained) but the price was a bit of a shocker. Only $15 for handcrafted leather shoes, direct from Greece. I looked twice, convinced I was missing a zero or something, but no. These are the Greek version of China flats: crepe-soled, rustic, simple and cheap enough to buy a pair in every iteration. Thongs, toe-rings, slides and criss-cross laces.
So, I bought a pair and wore them all summer, waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. A broken strap, a fast-wearing sole, something like that. Instead, they conformed to my foot, weathered beautifully, and quickly became my favorite pair. In them, I was subtly transformed from an urbanized 9-to-5er to more chic version of myself. A mysterious woman behind oversized sunglasses, perhaps on her way to a rendezvous at a café, a Cannes opening, a yacht christening. (That’s what I like to tell myself, anyway.)
At the end of the season, thoroughly smitten with my bargain sandals, I decided to buy another pair as a backup. Bad news: the import store was sold out. Even worse: through near-constant wear I’d rubbed the brand name off the food bed. All I was left with was something that began with an “A” and came from Greece.
A little Web detection turned up the Venus Hill company – an even bigger reward: they also sell wedge heels and clogs – and I promptly bookmarked the site. Once a girl finds her Jackie O in Greece connection, she’d be crazy to let that slip through her fingers. Or perhaps I should say, through her toes.