Serge entered the stark white classroom and placed his sketch pad and bag on the instructor’s desk at the front of the room. The room was perfect – no distractions. No windows, very little variation in colour or texture. This would give his students the ability to concentrate on their designs. No distractions.
He looked at the long whiteboard and wrote his name at the top, in the center. He stepped away and studied what he had written then went back to the board and penned his motto below his name. The board now read:
Serge had been hired to teach footwear design at the Overland Park School of Fashion & Couture. He would have to teach these farm kids how to design a shoe; specifically a woman’s shoe. Serge knew that for the most part men cared not a whit about shoes unless a woman was wearing them. Men could strap boxes on their feet and be happy, but a woman… well a woman always appreciated beautiful footwear.
There was no chair behind his desk, so Serge took one from the third row of student seating. He moved it behind his desk and took a seat to wait. Leaning back and propping his feet on the desk he admired his own shoes – blue suede wing tips of his own design. They carried the classic lines of a wing tip with a subtle hint of rebellion. He loved these shoes and as he contemplated ways that he might improve on even these perfect kicks he must have dozed off.
Waking to the sound of someone clearing their throat he started, and looked around. It looked like his class had arrived.
A short girl with a dirty blonde hair was leaning in on him; she pushed her glasses back up on her nose and snorted.
“Ha, I think he’s awake now” she said and everyone turned back towards their chosen seats.
Serge rubbed his face and ran his fingers through his hair, “What time is it?” he asked.
“It’s a quarter after,” said the dirty haired girl, who seemed to be the appointed spokesperson for the entire class, “you’re late.”
“No, I’ve been here.”
“Physically maybe; but consciously you’re late. Did you design those?” she asked, pointing at his wingtips.
“Uhm, yeah, I did.”
“Cooool,” droned a tragically hip young man sitting in the front row.
“Let’s get started, shall we?” Serge began. “My name is Mr. Chaussure and this is Women’s Footwear 101. I intend to spend today bragging about my own accomplishments and finding out a bit about each of you and what kinds of footwear inspire you.” A young man in the back slowly raised his hand, he wore a fedora low over his eyes. Serge pointed at him.
“Yes, Mr… I’m sorry I don’t know your name yet.” Serge said.
“Montes,” he said, “Guillermo Montes.” He kept going without a breath, “I think we should just move straight to talking about us, Teach. We all know who you are.”
“Do you now, Mr. Montes? Who am I?”
“You’re the dude who designed the espadrilles that Miss July was wearing in the magazine last summer.”
“Did everyone here know that?” Serge asked. Heads nodded around the classroom and a murmur of affirmative sounds provided a thumping bass track.
“OK then, enough about me. I expect each of you to come to class tomorrow with a sketch pad and a drawing implement of your choice. Pages must be 9×12. Not 8×10 or 10×14. 9×12 only, anything else will not be considered. I don’t care if you want to work with pencil, ink, charcoal, pastel or crayon but you will work on a 9×12 sheet.
“Now, let’s start with you Mr. Montes. What do you see on a woman’s foot that you find inspirational?”
“Boots, dude. But they gotta go higher than her knee.”
“And you?” Serge interrupted and pointed at the dirty haired girl.
“Pumps,” she said, “I’m a sucker for pumps. My name’s Karen, by the way.”
Serge, pointed at each of them in turn and heard.
“Linda, anything with an open toe.”
“Jeff, running shoes.”
“Tiffany, probably galoshes, but rubber shoes of any type bear consideration.”
Everyone was talking at once. Serge held up his hand and announced that he was letting class out early today. “Bring your sketches tomorrow,” he said. “Remember only 9×12’s. See you then and I promise to be awake.”