Archive for Fashion

Shoes go nude

The new trend in shoes, it seems, is nude, which basically means beige-ish and they are supposed to make your legs look as though they go on forever.

Nude shoes from LAMB

Nude shoes from LAMB

Celebrities have been seen sporting nude shoes on red carpets everywhere and they are being touted as the number one shoe obsession by fashion magazines the world over. But one woman is not so keen on nude shoes. Dodai (Jezebel.com) writes that naming products, such as shoes, nude or flesh-coloured automatically alienates a rather important demographic – namely black people, or anyone who isn’t Caucasian. She mentions crayons that were “flesh” coloured until some bright spark changed the name to “peach”, as well as flesh-coloured plasters (band aids) that simply didn’t blend with her skin as it did with her rosy friends.

Times may have changed and Dodai may have grown up, but she’s never forgotten the hurt of realising that she didn’t conform to the archaic standards of long ago. The new nude shoes trend, she says will not make her legs look long because they don’t blend into her skin tone. It’s not the colour that she finds offensive – beige is never an offensive colour, not really – but the naming of the colour. Surely marketers ought to be more sensitive to the feelings of people who were not born pasty.

United Nude, however, has nothing whatsoever to do with beige, in fact you won’t find anything quite as run-of-the-mill as beige at United Nude at all. United Nude is a British shoe company that was co-founded by Dutch architect Rem D. Koolhaas. According to Yahoo!’s shopping site, the shoes “combine architecture and abstraction to elevate footwear to the level of art”, and they certainly are interesting.

I love these from the “Fold” line, which apparently is all about the “fluent movement of a single strip”.

These are cobalt and magenta.

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From the “Sharpei” line we have magnificent green flame boots. Named after sharpei doges, the inside layer of the boot is independent of the outer layer, which is intentionally oversized.

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Mono Janes are Mary Janes with a quirky difference, and I love them.

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Accessories for accessories

I always thought that shoes were accessories, but it turns out that you can accessorise your accessories. Shoes don’t have to be just plain old shoes, and you don’t have to wear them as you bought them, they can be spruced up, decorated and adorned just as the rest of your wardrobe, and the results range from the chic and elegant to the downright weird.

Starting with the latter, we have “Lastic Laces”, which don’t get any more complicated than the name implies. They are indeed elastic shoelaces that coil to stay in place, so you don’t have to tie them. Other features, according to the website, include:

  • the convenience of a slip-on
  • never loses elasticity
  • lace ’em just once…and never again
  • no more struggles dressing those fiesty little kids
  • no more laces to drag or trip over

Lastic Laces™ also boast endorsement from the Arthritis Foundation, Special Olympics and Sports Illustrated and come in a range of colours, including magenta, raspberry/white/silver, purple, pink and black and white.

Shoe clips are something that I feel a little ambiguous about; I think that they carry an inherent tackiness risk. For instance, I’m not a fan of bows, I would never clip bows onto my shoes under any circumstances, and especially not for my wedding, but I could possibly accept some small, tasteful flowers, or even a classy brooch, but flowers start pushing red-alert buttons again.

Absolutely Audrey is pretty cool, they offer shoe clips in three categories: Vintage – where they convert vintage accessories (earrings, brooches, pendants, etc) into shoe clips

Olympia

Vintage Collection: Olympia

Chic – includes custom designed shoe clips

Hope

Chic Collection: Hope

Bridal collection – with crystals, pearls and rhinestones.

Desire

Bridal Collection: Desire

All of which are just fine by me.

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Shoes for thought

The type of shoes that you favour could reveal more about your personality, and your sexual preferences, than originally thought, but as a school of thought, it’s not one to which I particularly subscribe. Valerie Steele, author of “Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power” and director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, believes that we are all fetishists, at least on some level, and that shoes are an important fetish indicator.

Steele says that there are 4 levels of fetishism, and that most people are around level one and two, which are, she says, completely normative, it’s the third and fourth levels that you have to watch out for, as they are indicative of an obsession. After researching various fetish, pornographic and high fashion magazines, Steele established, not surprisingly, that the stiletto is the most sexualised footwear item, followed by boots.

Stilettos are importantly fetishly speaking because they serve a dual purpose, they can depict women as both helpless feminine objects and as powerful dominatrix-types. Steele says that ladies in high heels can’t run away and as such as under a form of patriarchal control. She must not have seen either of the Bridget Jones’ Diary movies, because if she had, she would have seen a clear example of a woman running virtual marathons in high heels, and running pretty well. The point is taken, however, as many proper fetish heels are extremely high and impossible to stand in let alone run around in. (The heel is also supposed to represent some kind of weapon, which is a blog post for another day.)

9-inch fetish heels

9-inch fetish heels

Other shoes with significant fetish value are boots and sandals. Boots worn by men are considered to be phallic, at least according to followers of Freud. This little tidbit of information was news to me. It never occurred to me that men in boots were trying to compensate for something. Sandals are strongly sexual because they reveal a great deal of foot flesh, i.e. the foot is naked. The foot is supposed to be related to all sorts of things sexual, so I suppose it isn’t much of a stretch for men to find naked feet nearly as exciting as naked everything else. And men are more strongly disposed to fetishism of any kind than women. (By the way, gladiator sandals symbolize feet in bondage, so beware the message you’re sending to men’s subconscious when stepping out in them.)

Gladiator foot bondage

Gladiator foot bondage

Are you going to pay any more attention to the type of shoes you buy from now on? I’m not, but I live mostly in sneakers and according to Steele they’re the most asexual shoes on the market. Not that that says anything about me at all.

Plain old sneakers

Plain old sneakers

Sneakers with a hidden message?

Sneakers with a hidden message?

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Interesting times we live in

In Interesting Times, Terry Pratchett says that one of the nastiest things you can say to someone is, “may you live in interesting times”. Because, interesting times aren’t necessarily good times. I think it’s safe to say that at the moment, times are interesting indeed. America has its first black president, and rather than that being big news in itself, the focus is on what he can do to save the world from economic damnation. It’s a heavy burden for new shoulders. And while headlines go crazy for news about international banks facing bankruptcy and housing markets racing towards the bottom of a very steep cliff, very little attention is being paid to other industries that are also battling the credit scourge. The fashion industry for instance, is not flourishing as it might have hoped, as people tighten last season’s belts.

According to a survey by Rockport Co., 84% of US adults are consciously attempting to save money, and for 70%, this means reducing their discretionary spending, particularly on shoes and accessories. Only 24% of respondents are willing to “splurge on shoes”. Increased economic awareness has not, however, led to smarter purchasing decisions, as it appears that instead of people buying uncomfortable shoes just because they look good (although this continues to occur), many adults now buy uncomfortable shoes because they’re cheap. This makes no sense to me, rather like drinking broccoli and celery juice because it’s good for you – yuck. The only good broccoli and celery juice would do me is as an emetic, but I digress.

An alternative to buying uncomfortably cheap shoes is to prolong the life of the shoes you already own. Instead of paying for something that you know you don’t really want, why not do as many throughout the UK and US are doing and fix what you love. Cobblers are doing brisk business as pennies and cents are stretched as far as they can go (likewise seamstresses and tailors have queues of people at their doors). It seems that interesting times have unexpected perks for some forgotten trades.

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Eco-friendly shoes display style and class: extend beyond tree-huggers

I don’t know if I would consider myself a ‘tree-hugger’, perhaps because the term has connotations that include tie-dyed dresses and unwashed hair, but I am environmentally aware and I do try to be as ‘green’ as possible. As a result, I tend to punt products that are vegan or made from recycled goods, or at least are made by manufacturers who use ethical production methods. That means that since reading about Bourgeois Boheme, and their eco- and animal-friendly practices, I have become a big fan.

Based in London, Bourgeois Boheme specialises in his ‘n hers environmentally-friendly fashion, including shoes, belts, scarves, gloves, wallets, purses and bags; they’ve won several PETA awards, including the 2008 PETA Proggy Award for Best Cruelty-free Online Vendor, and have been officially approved by the Vegan Society. And they have just revealed their new winter line of shoes, called “Love Goddess”. The line includes faux patent-“leather” riding boots, with extra space at the top for ladies with legs that don’t look like bits of spaghetti.

BoBo Boots

BoBo Boots

There are also funky purple wedges (which I adore), flat moccasins and office pumps, most of which have matching belts. All shoes in the Love Goddess line are made from “micro-fibre”, which is 80% biodegradable and 100% vegan-friendly. And they look fab. They’re a little pricy with styles ranging from £65 – £110, but when you think how much good goes into them, somehow that makes it all better. Love Goddess shoes are available from BoBo online, at Hydrex House in London (their first offline retail location) and can also be shipped internationally.

BoBo purple wedges

BoBo purple wedges


In other eco-friendly shoe news, Tree Hugger, the website with an eco-conscious, listed their top 5 eco-shoes, and while the Love Goddess line is too new to make the cut, there are plenty of other earth-friendly footwear manufacturers to applaud. I’ll give you my two favourites:

White Intrigue Shoes

White Intrigue Shoes

Intrigue shoes by Earth use ‘negative heel technology’ that is supposed to improve your posture and alignment while making you feel as though you are working barefoot in the sand. This is my kind of shoe, especially as the sole is made from natural rubber sole and they stock vegan styles and the colours are uber-cool. Prices are around £90.

Pink Intrigue Shoes

Pink Intrigue Shoes

Stella McCartney’s vegan boots, or, to be more exact: Stella McCartney anything. I freely confess that I am a Beatle-maniac, and that by association I am inclined to like things even remotely connected to all things Beatle. But Stella McCartney appeals to me for different reasons. One: her designs are gorgeous. Two: she has an unswerving devotion to animal friendly products and even foregoes PVC in favour of plant materials. She’s just plain cool.

Stella Wedges

Stella Wedges

Stella for Adidas

Stella for Adidas


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Megaheels: the price of a silhouette

I’m hearing things like 5-, 6- and even 7-inch heels; platforms that cost $1,500 (R14,242); shoes from designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Marni, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin; and (I admit, with a small smirk on my face) models falling off the catwalk and sobbing backstage because their heels are too, uhm… punishing.

What’s going on? It appears that high heels have turned into megaheels a’ la science fiction, and they come in an array of shapes, including spiky stilletos, sloping wedges, tapered cones and thick wooden posts. Ladies who can afford it – and let’s face it – those who are buying these shoes can, are injecting cosmectic fillers such as Restylane to plump up the balls of their feet so that they can actually walk.

“These are the highest heels that I’ve ever seen sold on a commercial level,” says Roseanne Morrison, a fashion director for Doneger Group, a retail consultant for more than 200 stores. And it seems that they are selling. At Bergdorf Goodman, senior VP Edwin Burstell says they represent “a large piece of the business this fall.” Sigh.

I’m five-foot eleven, and every time I wear heels higher than two inches I feel distinctly… noticeable. And yet, women who wear these megaheels feel that it improves their posture, and that the welfare of their feet is a small price to pay for a better outline. According to a study conducted by NPD Group Inc, women’s shoes with heels 3 inches or higher represented 25 percent of all women’s fashion footwear sold at shoes retail chains for 12 months ended in August 2008. This, compared with 21 percent in 2006. At the same time, moderate heels, between 1,5 inches and 2,7/8 inches, saw their market share fall from 34 percent to 26 percent in 2006.

So it looks like the ladies are getting artificially taller, but at what price? Bunions, back problems and herniated discs. Oh, but they’ll have sexy silhouettes, so it’s okay.

The Stiletto was first designed by Salvatore Ferragamo in the 50s for Marilyn Monroe.

The Stiletto was first designed by Salvatore Ferragamo in the 50s for Marilyn Monroe.

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What’s the big deal about choosing wedding shoes?

I had no idea that finding wedding shoes was such a complicated affair. I was foolishly under the impression that you spent hours labouring to find the perfect dress and then popped down to a shoe store to buy the first pair of white shoes that caught your eye. Apparently this is a mistake that a lot of brides-to-be make, and they end up in a flat panic when they find that shoe stores don’t really keep stock of white shoes, or that the white shoes they do have are hopelessly inappropriate for a wedding. So, what is a girl to do?

First things first, your wedding shoes need to complement your wedding dress. Unfortunately, experts are divided as to what exactly this means. Some say that your shoes need to be the exact colour of your dress. To achieve this, you need to walk around shoe shops with a swatch of fabric until you find a perfect match. Alternatively, you could buy a comfortable pair of shoes in the style that you like and have them dyed or covered to match your dress.

Traditional white wedding shoes

Traditional white wedding shoes

Others believe that if your wedding dress is simple, your shoes should be embellished, and if your dress is embellished your shoes should be simple. If, however, you decide to add detail to both your dress and shoes, you need to ensure that they are well coordinated. For instance, if you’re wearing a dress with sequins or jewels you could add crystals to your shoes, a dress with pearls can be matched with shoes with beads, and a lacy dress can be complemented with lacy shoes. Your choice of fabric is also important. Satin shoes work best with shiny fabrics. Matte dresses work well with crepe shoes.

Another school of thought, albeit a minority, subscribes to the notion that your shoes should contrast with your dress, but that they should do so tastefully. Gold or silver shoes make a nice difference to the traditional white or cream, but it’s not unheard of for brides to wear powder blue shoes, pink shoes and even red shoes. I’m pretty sure my hairdresser got married in green shoes, but I couldn’t swear to it.

Wedding shoes?

Wedding shoes?

When it comes to buying wedding shoes, there are a few things that all experts agree on:

· Buy them early, don’t leave it til the last minute. This is important for several reasons: you need to have your dress altered to suit the height of your shoes, you will need time to break them in so that you don’t end up with painful blisters on your wedding day, and you need to practice doing all the things that you will need to do on your wedding day, such as climbing stairs, dancing, walking, standing for long periods of time, and depending on how late you are for the service, running.

· Choose shoes that are comfortable. Obviously you want to look beautiful, poised and elegant on your wedding day, but it’s very difficult to carry all that off while your shoes are pinching your toes or you’re wobbling on heels that are too high or trying to hide the fact that the balls of your feet are sore and bruised. In much the same way that some brides have opted for coloured shoes, others have opted for plain white tennis shoes. But if this is too casual for you, you could always try wedges, flat ballet slippers or boots.

· Shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are a little bit bigger than they are in the morning. This will ensure that shoes that fit in the morning don’t pinch at night. When shopping for your wedding shoes you also need to consider what type of hosiery, if any, you’ll be wearing with your shoes on your wedding day. If you’re going to wear stockings, wear stockings while trying on shoes.

I’ve saved the best advice for last: choose shoes that you are comfortable with and that make you happy. Your wedding shoes should suit your style and no one else’s. If that means you want to get married in knee-high purple boots; then go for it, it’s your day after all.

Purple boots

Purple boots

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