Imelda Marcos, former Philippine first lady and current member of the country's House of Representatives, left behind a whole lot of designer shoes and clothes when she and her husband, former Philippine dictator and Barong shirt enthusiast Ferdinand Marcos, were forced into exile back in 1986. Unfortunately, after languishing uncared-for in palace storage for many years, all the fancy Marcos ensembles have begun to gather mold as they faithfully fulfill their new somewhat ignominious role as a tenement for subtropical insects.
According to the AP, workers at Manila's National Museum recently discovered more than 150 boxes testifying to the excess and luxury that the Marcoses indulged in before the army-backed "people power" revolt sent them fleeing to Hawaii. The Marcos effects included designer clothes, pieces of art, and at least 1,220 pairs of Imelda Marcos' shoes. The boxes were transferred to the National Museum two years ago for safekeeping, but their contents ironically deteriorated further when water from a tropical storm inundated the padlocked museum hall they were being stored in.
When workers finally opened the boxes, they were surprised to find mementos from the Marcos era crawling with termites and moldy from extreme humidity. According to Orlando Abinion, head of the effort to salvage at least some of this memorabilia, the clothes and shoes could serve as important links to the Marcoses time in power. "It's unfortunate," he explained, "because Imelda may have worn some of these clothes in major official events and as such have an important place in our history."
Though Imelda Marcos claimed that her shoes — most of which bear pre-water damage heel scuffs attesting to the claim that she did, in fact, wear every single pair at least a few times — were mostly gifts from Filipino shoemakers in suburban Marikina city, her collection teems with designer labels from the U.S. and Europe. At the time of the 1986 revolution, the shoe collection served as an illustration of the dissonance between Ferdinand Marcos' rule and the life of ordinary Filipinos, many of whom, notes the AP, went barefoot out of extreme poverty.
About 765 pairs of Imelda Marcos's fanciest shoes (including brands like Gucci, Charles Jourdan, and Ferragamo) survived flooding in 2009, and, thanks to museum vigilance, have remained pretty new-looking, drawing a daily crowd of 50-100 people who must all think, "If she left these shoes behind, I bet the ones she took to Hawaii were extra fancy."
Neglect ruins Imelda Marcos' vast shoe collection [AP via MSNBC]