MODEST DREAMS ARE FUTILE
Thick snow was falling on university grounds the day of a lecture on Fyodor Sologub’s classic The Petty Demon. I was a Government student at Wesleyan University, just finding my passion for 19th century Russian novels. The Petty Demon depicts a twisted, demonic provincial Russian town filled with grotesque characters and poltergeists who crush good intentions and pervert fine sentiments. It was just my cup of tea. The beautiful Liudmila Rutilova and her sisters were cocooned from the outside world by their escapist singing, delirious conversation and exotic perfume.
My professor was discussing a passage in which Liudmila, in her way both innocent and sybaritic, cries out against the social suppression of her desire to live a life of sensory beauty. Her rant was simple, despairing and impassioned. It was during that lecture that I was, quite dramatically, provoked to change course and turn my back forever on the future I was preparing for. I would never become a management consultant.
Insomnia plagued my school years and when I couldn't sleep I would draw shoes: crazy shoes, princess shoes, impossible shoes, shoes for characters from my books and characters and scenarios I would invent myself. I was a walking shoe encyclopedia; obsessed and evangelical. There was something so sweet, so final and orderly in the way that they came together, in the way that they contained the emotion I poured into them. There was no thinking about it, I was going to do it.
Immediately after completing my degree, I left Connecticut for Milan and enrolled in an intensive shoe-making course at the historical Ars Sutoria school. I became fixated on mining childhood memories and translating the sense of wonder and magic they evoked into line, form and colour. Liudmila was founded in November of 2013 after receiving a hard-won blessing from respected industry veteran and Ars professor Richard Siccardi.