Saturday, 27 August 2011

Back to School, Back to Broke

Yeah, it's that time of year again.  School is back (a big shock after my year off), I've paid my first tuition installment and I went,"Oh shit, that was a lot of money," and I supported the local economy in Montreal last weekend (that means I went shopping and ate out for every meal).  So, here we have it: my top 5 stylish AND practical shoes for campus under $100.

Marimekko All-Star for Converse - $75
(buy here)

Toms burgundy houndstooth slip-ons - $54
(buy here)

Black Chelsea boot - $83
(buy here)

Madden Girl lace-ups - $56.95
(buy here)

Madison leopard loafers - $45.54
(buy here)

There you have it.  You might have noticed a complete lack of heels.  That is because even I tone it down for class.  Save the heels for the weekend, fellow stylish students; stomping it out in the caf line is beyond ridiculous.

- Shannon

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Blatant Shoe Plagarism

I am about to get pretty scathing about a popular shoe brand that I have written about before.  I had previously noted similarities between a shoe designed by Salvatore Ferragamo and a shoe designed by Jeffrey Campbell.  I also have noted some things I love about Jeffrey Campbell.  But here is where things go sour.  While looking through shoes at Nasty Gal, many of which are Jeffrey Campbell, I started seeing some shoes that looked extremely familiar.  See for yourself below:

 Jeffrey Campbell Fruitbowl platform.

Charlotte Olympia fruit platform.

Jeffrey Campbell's cutout combat boot.

Balenciaga's cutout combat boot.

Jeffrey Campbell's western-inspired bootie.

Viktor & Rolf's western-inspired bootie.

Jeffrey Campbell's black wedge boot.

Alexander Wang's black wedge boot.

Jeffrey Campbell's brogue flatform.

Prada's "Creeper" brogue flatform.

So (hopefully) you have eyeballs and you see all the similarities that I see.  And I have a big problem with it.  This isn't an instance of two designers both designing a metallic heel.  This is a designer stealing another designer's unique ideas.  I will also note that every Jeffrey Campbell shoe was released after the other designer's version.  I will no longer buy or support Jeffrey Campbell shoes.  I believe that if you choose to become a designer of anything, you make your own designs.  

- Shannon

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Shoes in Visual Art

Today I want to look at shoes, as usual, but I want to examine a more abstract function of the shoe.  The most logical way to approach this seemed to be in representations of shoes, so here we have shoes in visual art.  Discussion pieces below:

Van Gogh's A Pair of Shoes c.1887
The shoes depicted in this work are widely believed to be a pair of peddler's shoes purchased at a flea market in Paris.  A peddler is basically an old-timey door-to-door salesman.  These shoes would have been for daily use, and you can see that they are worn out by frequent journeys.  The shoes have character, which isn't a word I'm tossing around because they look beat-up.  Because of the traveling nature of the wearer, every scuff has a story within it.  That's what I love about sturdy leather boots.  I own a pair of 8" black Frye Harness boots and they are my go-to fall/winter shoe.  They go everywhere I do and I've been fascinated to see how my life changes the boot.  Let's not get crazy though; I don't like scuffs on any other kind of footwear.
 A sample of Andy Warhol's work as a shoe illustrator c.1955

This is not the Warhol pop-art style everyone is familiar with.  He was working for a shoe company where he did fashion illustration for their advertising.  I believe some of his ad work in the 50's had an influence on his pop-art, mass manufactured print-making.  On one occasion, he attempted to have his shoe illustrations exhibited, but he was rejected. As an aside, to whoever rejected Warhol: you fucked up.

Gauguin's Wooden Shoes c.1889-90

These are really meant to be worn as shoes, but you might not want to risk it given that they cost $338,500 a pop.  They are engraved with characters that depict the typical dress and manner of maidens from the region of Brittany in France, a favourite place of Gauguin.  The shoes themselves are also what was typically worn in that region.  These are an example of Gauguin's work in wood-cutting and wood-engraving, which is a field he helped establish with his art.

Shoes lend themselves to stories so unbelievably well.  They are essential to travel, and they become a part of your life's adventures.  This shit just got cheesy. Happy weekend!

- Shannon

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Obsessed: Nicholas Kirkwood Flats

The unthinkable has happened.  Nicholas Kirkwood, shoe designer, has designed season after season of the most unbelievably exquisite shoes.  They all have one thing in common, aside from awesomeness: the spiky sky-high heel.  But as of S/S10, the heel has come down and the awesome is still there.
Commence drooling now.

With the expansion into flats and the opening of a Nicholas Kirkwood flagship store in London, I can't wait to see what comes next.

- Shannon

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Louboutin V. Yves Saint Laurent

There is currently a legal battle going on between Christian Louboutin and Yves Saint Laurent.  Louboutin is seeking an injunction against YSL regarding the use of red soles for it Resort 2011 collection.  Everyone knows the Louboutin red sole; the idea hatched from an employee's red nail polish and has become an iconic part of luxury shoe history.  The shade specific to Louboutin was apparently trademarked in 2008.  Examples of both YSL and Louboutin's red soles below:

YSL's red-soled red Tribute t-strap sandal.

Louboutin's Lady Derby in black with trademark red sole.

YSL's red-soled Tribute pump in red.

Loubotin's Poseidon in purple with trademark red sole.

I don't think anyone should have exclusive rights to using red on the soles of their shoes.  Especially because, correct me if I'm wrong, the only examples of YSL using red soles were for red shoes.  If I were making shoes, I personally wouldn't choose to use red soles because it's already been done.  But if it's only being used by another designer on red shoes for a streamlined look, then I think it's petty to engage in a million-dollar lawsuit over it.  But maybe I would feel differently if it were my trademark.

- Shannon

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Kobi Levi, I Love You

I like to think that I am daring with my fashion choices.  I'm not afraid to wear most clothes or pile on the jewelry, but Kobi Levi's footwear designs are on an entirely different level.  Below are my top 5 Kobi Levi choices:

Olive Oyl.



Blond Ambition.


I love his designs. They are easily some of the most original shoes I've ever seen.  But the thing is, his shoes are still footwear, emphasis on wear, and I don't know if I would actually have what it takes to pull off any of the shoes pictured above.  Regardless, art has never been this wearable and hopefully I'll have the balls to go for it someday.

- Shannon

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Shoe Pains Semi-Explained

Remember these shoes?

They're back! As part of a fundraiser for the English National Ballet, who had their budget cut by $3.2 million, Christian Louboutin designed a new pair of his extreme ballerina heels. A size 37, one-of-a-kind, covered in Swarovski crystals, and unwearable...

But really, really pretty.

It brings to mind a larger question however: why am I, along with thousands of other women, willing to distort my feet, my body and my posture for the sake of wearing pretty shoes?  I do it on a regular basis.  At 5"9, I don't need the extra height.  I don't need the obvious foot, knee, hip and back pains the regular wearing of high heels can cause.  Is it just because they're pretty? I don't think so. There are more than enough stylish flat shoes out there.  I believe that the answer does lie in the heel height, in being higher up.  I admit, it's a confidence boost to walk with authoritative "click" of a heel and to be taller than usual.  I think of shoes as the integral finishing touch to any outfit and a heel gives both a literal and figurative boost to what you're wearing.  Heels add another dimension to your look.  They command attention and they remind me that I am worth paying attention to.  This strikes me as slightly sad, only because I don't know any guy that has to pull on platforms to gain authority.  I suppose women are the flashier gender of the human species, and heels are part of that uniform.  
To close, I'm going to get a little Oprah-ish here.  Don't dress for anyone else.  Dress for yourself, and put those heels on because they make you feel good emotionally, if not physically.

- Shannon

Friday, 29 July 2011

When Shannon Met... The Jeffrey Campbell 99

Jeffrey Campbell recently celebrated an important birthday.  The Lita Boot (seen here) turned one year-old.  The Lita has a huge following and it's impossible to scroll through without seeing it, but my true JC love is the 99 wedge (seen below), which I own in black.

This shoe is the fucking best. It combines comfort, style and an enormous platform, which is all I ever want.  Especially the comfort! I can sit/stand/walk/shop/dance in these shoes for hours. The tall hidden wedge and platform, which look intimidating, are so wearable it's ridiculous.  
I think one of the most important things about Jeffrey Campbell is how affordable the shoes are.  While I've been known to drop a lot of money on a pair of shoes, I don't feel like you should always have to pay $350+ for a quality shoe.  Jeffrey Campbell is one of the only brands that offers a shoe that doesn't damage your feet, with materials that don't fall apart and don't cost as much as my rent. And they look awesome.  So, thank you Jeffrey Campbell.  You give me (and my bank account) hope that high fashion isn't reserved for the rich.  You rock.

- Shannon

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Debunking A Bizzare Shoe Myth

Last night, this happened:

Lady Gaga threw her shoe at the dancers on So You Think You Can Dance, which she claimed is some crazy tradition when you really enjoy a dance performance. Okay, what? I have performed in many dance shows, seen many dance shows, but never have I ever seen anyone throw their shoes at a performer! Especially heel-less, 12-inch platforms that probably weigh a ton.  Luckily, no one was hurt.
What I'm saying is, when you really enjoy a dance performance, applaud. Don't throw your shoes! Safety of self and sanctity of shoe above all!


Monday, 25 July 2011

A Tribute to YSL's Tribute

I have long been obsessed with French fashion house, Yves Saint Laurent, now a brand as part of the Gucci conglomerate.  From the divine tailoring of the classic Le Smoking tuxedo suits, to the fabulous Mondrian dress, and the legacy continued by current head designer Stefano Pilati, I consider YSL to be nothing short of legendary.  Perhaps the most iconic shoe by YSL is the Tribute.  Produced in multiple seasons and available as a t-strap sandal, pump, boot, and Mary Jane, it's signature is a 1.5-inch platform with a towering 5.5-inch heel.  Candy for your eyeballs below:

Probably the classiest platform ever, right?
The t-strap in red.
Blue-soled black boot and pump with extra-skinny heel.

Vintage Tribute, so lust-worthy.

Ohmygod, this colour makes me so happy inside.

The Tribute has most recently been known for it's regular appearances on celebrity feet, which makes a lot of sense.  True to YSL, no matter what colour or style the Tribute is produced in, it represents the understated glamour and season-less style that the fashion house was known for.  They are the only skinny stiletto heels that I truly love, as I prefer stacked or wedge heels.  While I generally find that stilettos make the wearer look vulnerable, these shoes convey nothing but a feline sense of power, and I'm cool with that.

- Shannon

Monday, 18 July 2011

Looking Forward to Fall 2011

I am a dreamer.  If I could spend all my tuition money on shoes instead, this would be my dream shoe wardrobe from the FW 11/12 collections:

Boots from Aperlai.
Classic boots from Frye.
Flats from Jenni Kayne.
Boots from Chanel.
Studded pumps from Christian Louboutin.
Boots from Dax Gabler.
Lace-up flats from Pollini.
Booties from Miu Miu.
Heels from Pierre Hardy.
Heels from Dries Van Noten.

Unfortunately, many of these lovely shoes have no place on campus, and cost as much as a lot of my course supplies.  Why aren't beautiful shoes part of course packs? However, I will be looking out for those Dax Gabler boots and another pair of Frye boots. Maybe dreams will come true?
If you have any fall favourites, let me know!

- Shannon

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Vintage Shoes and How to Help Them Survive

I have a turbulent relationship with vintage shoes.  I love them, but 9 times out of 10, they let me down.  Any vintage style of shoe is hard enough for me to find in the first place because I have a big feet for a lady (size 10) but a pair that doesn't fall apart within 5-10 wears? Nearly impossible.  It breaks my heart because new shoes don't always have the same style/history/"je ne sais quoi" that vintage ones do, particularly when it comes to cowboy, riding or ankle boots. Examples of lust-worthy vintage boots below:
Vintage Maxwell Marshall riding boots.
Blue/tan suede ankle boots.
Snakeskin cowboy boots (available at LA Vintage!)

I can't imagine any modern interpretation having the same effect, particularly when it comes to brown leathers, which often age in unexpected and beautiful ways.  The best way to stay with your vintage footwear for as long as possible means investing in some maintenance.  There are a few things you can do yourself to extend the life of your shoes.
  1. Invest in waterproofing spray.  It generally strengthens shoes against environmental damage.
  2. Use saddle soap.  It's like a deep massage for leathers.  It cleans and moisturizes the material to prevent from staining and cracking.  Buy from Roots here.
  3. Find a cobbler close by.  People seem so keen to give up on their shoes when the sole is falling off, or a heel is worn down, or a buckle is wonky, but you don't have to! Take them to a cobbler, who can easily fix any of these problems and will give your shoes the best polishing ever.  
  4. This only applies for those who live in a cold climate like me, whose neighbours spread piles of salt on icy sidewalks all winter long that seep into your boots and leave that crusty white line.  A mixture of 3/4 water and 1/4 vinegar will remove it, but don't let salt sit for too long or it will permanently damage your shoe.  And don't use salt on sidewalks! Sand also provides grip on icy sidewalks in winter without damaging shoes or animals paws for that matter.  Love thy neighbours shoes!
These tips go for any footwear, vintage or otherwise. Be wary when buying any shoe of the quality of material but when you find that pair you love, treat them well!

- Shannon