Monday, February 23, 2009

What Fresh Heel is This?

OK, back at the desk after a week in fresh mountain air. Thanks to the childrens' slavish devotion to their DS, I was able to use the flight time to sink into the glossy depths of my own drug of choice, the fashion magazines. Having more time than usual to contemplate the front-of-the-book ads only reinforced how deeply silly, and out-of-touch, the coming season will be. This is nowhere more evident than at the ground floor level--the shoes.

Much to blame: last year's Balenciaga's gladiator sandals-cum-shin-guards, and Prada's (admittedly pretty) piranha-plant heels. These set dizzying heights for fellow designers to match, which they have met this year with stilt-like heels and even more outlandish design.

Take, for example, the footgear offered by Yves Saint Laurent. It's been described as "iconic" in several places, which is apparently code for hideously expensive and essentially unwearable. What was the genesis of the design? I've gotten a stiletto stuck in a grate more times than I can count. This seems a nightmarish extension where the entire foot gets embedded, and the grate somehow vacuum-molds around it. More likely--the shoe was designed using a computer-aided grid; some smartyboots thought it looked cool without a structural skin, and voila, your feet are trussed like a round of beef ready to roast (and blister in an unusually decorative way, if you're walking much farther than a couple yards).

The photo actually makes me laugh. If the poor model took two steps to the left or right, the sticks, burrs and sand of the Hollywood Hills would get so deeply embedded in the latticework that the shoe would look less like a sleekly modernistic structure than beaver's dam.

Now on to even more egregious little numbers from Dior. At first, the heels seem similarly architectural, though in this case more Frank Gehry than modernist grid. But look closer (click on the picture) and you discover that the heels actually take a human form. Like the female caryatids at the Acropolis acting as columns for a pediment, these little figures support the superstructure of Giselle Bundchen.

The problem? With their pendulous breasts, ripe stomachs and ample backsides, the figures harken to the primitive, fertility-goddess sculpture most commonly associated with sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania. Hard on the heels of an outcry over the lack of non-European models on the catwalks and fashion-magazine pages, John Galliano has seen fit to put the inarguably Aryan Giselle hard on the heels of a totemic Black figure, a figure which, needless to say, would never pass muster at a high-fashion casting call.

To me, it's emblematic of the deep cluelessness of the fashion establishment. And why, given the option, most women would rather wear flipflops.


  1. Your observation on the Dior picture is astute, though I confess I didn't even really notice the shoes in the ad as I was distracted by Giselle's new cropped bangs. Which even add to the Aryan look unfortunately.

  2. That's what I saw first too! And was amazed to find myself actually feeling sorry for Giselle Bundchen.