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A Glorious Shoe Was Coveted

If you’re observant, you can recognize them by the varying shades of glitter on the sidewalk, shrubs or house siding. You might even spot glitter on the back of one of the brown or green lizards scampering around the neighborhood.

If you see any of this, you’ll know you’re standing on sacred ground.

For the days, weeks and months leading up to Mardi Gras, Krewe of Muses members gather in one of the hundreds of glitterages or shoedios scattered across the city to glitter and artify one of the most coveted Mardi Gras throws: a Muses shoe.

Photo: Paul Broussard
Muses parade

The Muses are the first all-female, Mardi Gras krewe to parade through Uptown at night since Venus stopped rolling in 1992. What began in 2000 with a few friends has exploded into a 1600-member group with its own den and eight signature floats that are adapted every year to fit the satirical theme that Muses announce to their fans at midnight before parade day.

The shoes weren’t exactly part of the official plan, though serving as muses to their beloved city was. In Greek Mythology, the Muses are the nine daughters of Zeus meant to inspire creation in the arts. Their presence in New Orleans has long been established by way of familiar streets—Calliope, Cilo, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpischore, Thalia and Urania. It seems only natural that the Muses would eventually arrive in another inspiring and vibrant form, flinging open the door to new ideas and Mardi Gras groups and, well, throws.

Photo: Paul Broussard
Muses float

That first parade year, a shoe bead was offered to riders as a special throw for the inaugural ride. Inspired, another member took four real shoes, glittered them up and handed them out to friends. The next year a few others decided to design their own shoes to hand out. By 2005 hundreds of women were making shoes and the Mardi Gras crowds were clamoring for them.

A good glitterage is stacked with tupperware containers of bright, gorgeous colors that, in true Muses style, have their own names: marry me purple or burnt squash. There’s also plenty of shoe bling to attach and create themed shoes—feathers, wings, beads, Barbie shoes. The tchotchkes are endless, the shoe designs beautiful.

Photo: Paul Broussard

I really think the shoe love has been part

of the Mardi Gras love for Muses.

Over the years, formulas have developed—the right combination of glues, the most efficient way to glitter. The basic process is this: base glitter the whole shoe, make sure Muses is written beautifully somewhere alongside the year, bling the shoe up then slip it into the plastic packaging with the ribbons and bows that will carry it to its lucky owner parade night.

Maybe that’s you, and the Muses will have spoken.

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