|Sharifa is a 23 year old graphics designer from Dammam.|
I met Sharifa through my friend Todd and we sat down one rainy(!) afternoon to talk about her famously large shoe collection.What are your favourite pair of shoes?
Should I describe it?
I have a lot!
But if you were to go on a desert island and you could only take one pair with you, which pair would you take?
Well on a desert island it's not necessary to take heels so a flat one!
So what would they look like?
My Valentino ones, the ones with the stripes. And studs or spikes. They're fashionable. They make me strong. I like the the way they're designed, they're unique.
So do you wear these when you go out in public?
To the mall?
Mm, not really.
OK. So when I say public and when you think of the word public, what do you think of?
Maybe restaurants, when I go with my friends.
Why not in the mall?
I don't know, I need something comfortable. It's not necessary to be fancy there. I'm alone.
Her friend says that here it's not easy to match your shoes with your abaya.
What are the different things you do in your shoes? Is there a certain role that you assign to each one?
No. It depends on if its heels or flats. But I don't know, I feel like I wear them.
Do you have a pair that you wear to the gym?
Yes I have Nike ones. Each occasion has specific shoes. Every shoe has to match what you're wearing.
Like the clothes under your abaya?
At work they have to match the abaya.
Do you ever wear your pajamas under your abaya to work?
No I can't! I have friends who do that, but I can't.
How do you think other women will judge you or see you by the shoes you wear?
I'm fabulous! Other women always say that my shoes are stylish. That's why it's very difficult to choose my favourite pair. That's why I brought four pairs today. You have to choose one!
Ok I can do that. So it doesn't sound like you're a sporty girl.
No not really, I have a fancy pair of sports shoes and one Nike one. They're not elegant, not my type.
How do you see or judge other women by their shoes?
I'm not judging their shoes. If she wears good shoes, a fabulous one, I'll ask her where she bought it from. If I know her, I'm not shy. But if I just met her, I won't ask her that.
Do you make sure that you wear a different pair every time you leave your house?
Yes. I can repeat my work shoes up to twice a week. When it's a gathering, it depends on the people that I see.
What do you want your shoes to say about you?
The four pair of shoes that Sharifah brought to her interview were all designer and she later told me that all of her shoes are from brand name stores. Even the individual bags that were carrying her different pairs were from Givenchy, Gucci, or Prada. I chose the flats that she carefully removed from their drawstring bag instead of the heels and flats she showed me because they looked so delicate. (And because I'm a Gemini so the two faces on the front of the shoe appealed to my nature). They looked like something that belonged on a statement necklace, they were so intricately designed. The whole look reminded me of something from the Victorian Age, where shoes had a little heel and were embroidered with gold and silver thread. I know that there is a huge brand culture here in kingdom and expats tend to put down Saudis because of that, but there is something to be said about the attention to detail that pricey shoes can afford. I'm not saying that I'm going to ditch my Zara or New Look shoes any time soon, but there is something to be said about looking... well, fabulous.