There was that moment last fall when Celiné showed fluffy Birkenstocks for Spring when a collective sigh rippled through the fashion crowd. It was dubbed a universally “ugly shoe” as soon as the critics could start typing into their MacBooks. But Phoebe Philo’s interpretation always leaves the crowd flummoxed. Can the most comfortable sandal loved by tree huggers worldwide now be a serious fashion statement? With its quirky wide corky base, indents for toes, and the least flattering shoe on the planet actually be cool?
I know I always advocate wearing sky-high heels because standing five inches taller than my natural height feels fantastic enough to compromise comfort under any circumstances. But there’s a time and place for everything, and this is not the time for those stilettos. If designers have their say, and they have been hinting at this since February, flats are back. But Birkenstocks? Really? Yes, really. I noticed some re-surfacing of the 90s era sandals during this season at Trina Turk, Edun,and Houghton. Here is a photo from the Houghton x Birkenstocks easy chic collection that stuck to white, pastels, and gold brocade.
And how about Givenchy’s latest spring summer collection from last night in Paris? Check out the soon to be cultish orange flats Ill be coveting come spring.
The image that best typifies the look-fresh-faced, carefree, and Birkenstock-shod, is that of a young Kate Moss shot by photographer Corinne Day back in the 1990s. Moss, the picture of alluring youth in a crop top, cropped jeans, and double-strap sandals is the epitome of chic. Has the fascination of the ugly sandals throwing us back into the Zeitgeist of 90s culture? Think episodes of Clueless, Dawsons Creek, Full House, and Roseanne. I should also mention that I lived through the 90s, saw the Grateful Dead a few times, ate Phish Food, wore a lot of tie dye, and, yes, Birkenstocks. I’m not embarrassed by that, just not sure I can wear Birkenstocks if not ironically. But I gave being short a test run.There’s really nothing better than a pretty dress with an ugly shoe. For sure.
Whatever the shape, the rules for wearing them in a stylish way right now apply across the board. It can’t look like you’ve had them for years like in the old days; otherwise it reads hippie.
So it seems the fashion world spent the summer in all types of flips, now Furkenstocks and other orthopedic styles are rearing its ugly feet. Do you even care? Will you try getting closer to Planet Earth? I am going to embrace the environmental bug for a bit, not unlike Stella McCartney’s use of animal-free products and Donna Karan’s Urban Zen line. And BTW, they come in black too.
photos: jim d’angelo
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