Imelda Marcos was given a new pair of shoes last weekend and nearly cried for joy. Her only other pair, she said, was wearing out.
Having left behind 3,000 pairs of shoes when she and her husband, former Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, fled Manila Feb. 25, the former Philippine first lady had been assumed to be fairly well heeled, even in exile.
But the New York Daily News said a videotape made in Honolulu by an independent television station showed a party given for the Marcoses in Hawaii by a group of Filipinos, one of whom presented Imelda Marcos with the shoes and several dresses.
"Thank you for being friends," the former first lady, apparently near tears, told the group. She said the heels on her only other pair of shoes had worn out.
Imelda sk,3 Marcos' ill-shod state in exile had not previously been disclosed. She has been more occupied in recent weeks explaining the shoes she left behind. Ferdinand Marcos has called his wife's massive accumulation of clothes and accessories in the Philippines "gifts" from designers who wanted her to wear their creations.sk,2
Imelda Marcos has previously said her wardrobe was actually a ready supply of "presents" for others.
"Look," she said in an interview published April 14 in the London Daily Mail, "as first lady I had to remember two or three dozen birthdays, anniversaries and baptisms a day -- a day!"
But hundreds of black bras? One thousand panties? Two hundred girdles? Three thousand pairs of shoes?
"Shoes are one of our biggest exports," Imelda Marcos explained in the interview. "As first lady, it was one of my duties and responsibilities to promote Philippine products, to act as a model for them. And shoes earned millions in exports."
Many of those shoes, however, have labels from companies in France, England and the United States.
"I hate to disagree with an ex-president, but we never have given away any shoes, nor do we sell them at a discount," says Edward Rayne, chairman and chief executive office of Delman Shoes, a prestige label prominent among those in Imelda Marcos' shoe collection.
Word would get around when the first lady was in Harrods buying shoes. "Of course it would get back to me when someone would make an extraordinary purchase," Rayne says. "On occasion Mrs. Marcos would buy two dozen pairs at a time. Just how many pairs of Delman shoes she bought over the years in London and in New York at Bergdorf-Goodman is not possible to know. I couldn't guess."
If there is a list of women who receive shoes free from designers and manufacturers, none of the major companies knows about it. "I wouldn't mind being on that list myself," says Harriet Stein of Walt Steiger, another prestige label represented among the shoes amassed by Imelda Marcos.
The high-fashion Steiger shoes are carried by 17 franchisees all over the world. "I would guess Mrs. Marcos' purchases were made in Hong Kong," Stein says, "but to acquire a great number of one style, she would have to pick them up in several different stores. We don't have a huge supply of any one style in any store."
A spokesman for Beltrami, an Italian shoe manufacturer popular with Imelda Marcos, says, "We give nothing for free -- in fact, nothing for a special price." He made it clear that he was not aware that Imelda Marcos ever asked for anything at a discount or free, as her husband suggested.
Nevertheless, the former first lady insisted in the interview, she had little time to spend in stores. "I was too busy thinking about electrical power, education, roads, bridges and transportation," she said, "to shop.