Meanwhile, far from Wasilla

From the last time I had anything to say on this particular subject:

The very first post I did about Sarah Palin was in early 2007, when she was so far under the radar she’d practically have to wear ridiculous shoes to be seen.

I gather she’s probably enjoying her less-than-household-word status these days, and on the basis of current evidence, I’m pretty sure her tastes in Wacky Footwear have changed not a whit. From a Friday appearance at a forum at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida:

Sarah Palin at Southeastern University

Now historically, I’ve argued that if you have legs like that you should be able to wear any damn shoes you want, and I’m sure that this bondage boot, or whatever it is, is not often seen on college campuses affiliated with the Assemblies of God; but after keeping a close eye on Sarah for six years, I’m thinking that she got into the habit of wearing things like this specifically because it annoyed the hell out of John McCain, and really, who hasn’t wanted to annoy the hell out of John McCain?

(With thanks to The Ledger.)

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Fugliness afoot

My attention is drawn, generally, to really gorgeous shoes, and sometimes to shoes that are less than gorgeous. In fact, I admit that from time to time I’ve served up stories about shoes that were perhaps lacking in beauty altogether, though I don’t make a habit of it.

Through the Ides of March, Shoewawa is taking your votes for which of the 18 monstrosities they have on display is in fact the ugliest. I will not try to influence your choice in any way, except to note that they’re all several orders of magnitude worse than horrible plug-ugly.

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Imported from Bohemia

Lambskin sandals by ChanelThe Wall Street Journal, for some inscrutable reason, was featuring this bizarre sandal by Chanel in a piece about “The New Bohemians,” whoever they may be. It’s not very pretty, but it compensates by being fiendishly complicated: I suppose it’s theoretically possible to design a shoe that would take longer to put on than these do, and, as I’ve noted before, I yield to no one in my fondness for strappy sandals — but too much of a good thing too often yields a thing less good. And if you ask me, the only thing worse than a thing less good is a thing less good that costs something like $2,175. (Okay, it’s made out of lambskin fercrissake, but face it: at this stage of advanced fugliness, you start to feel a lot more sympathy for the poor underaged ungulate who gave his life for no discernible benefit.)

Fausta, with the tango in her soul and the legs to die for, looked at these, and what she remembered was not the classic hippie-chick vibe that’s supposedly being celebrated by those WSJ goobers, but something, um, entirely different.

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Well enough not left alone

You may remember this from last month:

Prada Bicolor Rubber Oxford

If you saw that and asked yourself “Self, how could Prada possibly top — or bottom — that?” your answer is below the fold:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Worst shoe ever?

New York magazine’s The Cut has a slideshow feature of the 50 Ugliest Shoes in History, and while “ugly” is of course in the eye of the beholder — I’d defend Doc Martens and maybe even the Earth Shoe in terms of form following function — some of these Dr. Moreauvian creations perhaps ought not to be beheld at all, and as it happens, of the two I like least, one has already been featured here. This is the other:

Brian Atwood Charleston Peep-Toe Ankle Boots

Said The Cut of the Brian Atwood “Charleston” peep-toe platform ankle boot, unleashed this year:

Dripping with a bordello’s worth of upholstery tassels, the “Charleston” has a Clydesdale look without the unsavory reality of actually killing and wearing a horse’s hoof.

Evidently — and perhaps surprisingly to some — I have a great deal of resistance to hooves in this context.

(Via Nancy Friedman, who also defends Docs.)

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Meh-ness to society

Even mighty Prada, alas, can go wrong:

Prada Bicolor Rubber Oxford

Shoewawa’s Abi Silvester explains this better than I could:

Almost a blend of two shoes, it looks as though one perfectly attractive menswear-inspired shoe has been dropped in a large vat of molten candle wax — and pulled out just too late!

If that sort of thing floats your boat, it’s $950 at Nordstrom.

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Available only in size OMGWTFBBQ

Scary Beautiful by Leanie van der Vyver and René van den BergThese are being billed as “the scariest shoes of all time,” and certainly the fright potential is there; I can imagine nightmares induced by this photo alone. The artist explains:

“After working in fashion for seven years, and therefore being well aware of the manipulation images in fashion suffer for a perfect result, I still compare myself to them and other current beauty ideals,” [Leanie] Van der Vyver told Yahoo! Shine exclusively. “My frustration with my own inability to overcome these feelings of inadequacy was what brought ‘Scary Beautiful’ into fruition. The shoes formed part of my graduation project that was a result of my thesis. The conclusion of my thesis investigation was that people are not satisfied with what they look like, and that perfection, according to the beauty and fashion standards, has reached a climax. Humans are playing God by physically and metaphorically perfecting themselves. Beauty is currently at an all time climax, allowing this project to explore what lies beyond perfection. Scary Beautiful challenges current beauty ideals by inflicting an unexpected new beauty standard.”

We might be playing God, but God has a four-run lead with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth.

Why, yes, they were offered to Lady Gaga. How did you know?

(“If I were a shoe blogger,” Syaffolee tweeted, “I think I’d just give it the OMGWTFBBQ tag and leave it at that.” Hence the title.)

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I hope there’s no matching hat

Weird boots by PradaI’m the first to admit that I don’t look all that carefully at all the new collections: the sheer volume makes my eyes glaze over. So I paid no attention to this limited-edition Mary Jane from Prada last summer: the color is nice, and I liked the oversized button, but no big deal, and models tend to have slightly weird-looking legs anyway. What’s more, the $1500 price tag seemed more extortionate than usual.

So it was Kim Priestap, not I, who noticed that there was in fact no model in this picture at all: that’s a boot terminating in a Mary Jane, and from a distance (or if you’re in a hurry) it looks for all the world like a prosthetic leg. “Can you get any creepier?” she asks. Trust me: couture houses know creepy like Ettore Boiardi knows canned spaghetti.

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That mule won’t work

Celine, the Shoe Girl, discovers that one of her idols may have, you should pardon the expression, feet of clay:

EVERY DAY I’ve been checking Vogue.com to see if the latest Miu Miu runway collection had been posted yet. Miu Miu is my current favorite as far as shoes go and I haven’t been disappointed… until… today.

Mule by Miu MiuThere follow pictures of new shoes in the (presumably spring/summer ’12) collection, each one just a little more ghastly than the one before, until finally she just can’t take it anymore:

I’m sorry and I HATE saying negative things about a designer I respect SO much and look up to immensely but I just don’t have any positives here. I don’t like the shape, the colors, the details… I’m so confused!

These ones are the worst! Putty/tan/beige??? A MULE??? Oh say it isn’t so!

Her commenters weren’t particularly impressed either, which suggested that mine would be utterly revolted — or maybe not. We’re an eclectic bunch around here.

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Choose your shoes

I have not gone to a whole lot of trouble trying to figure out any individual woman’s shoe-selection criteria, on the semi-sensible basis that a few weeks of observation will tell me everything I need to know. Then again, I’m not in a position to observe anyone on more than a part-time basis, which means I will consider myself fortunate to have run across someone who puts her criteria in writing:

  • No peep toe. My second toe is longer than the first and it gets squished out the peep hole. It’s not cute. Actually, it’s really hideous.
  • Must have platform. This is to provide a buffer between my feet and the marble floors at the Capitol.
  • The sides of the heel can’t come up too far because it will rub my ankle bones.
  • I like a strap across the front. Or a zip-up front. This keeps the shoe from falling off my foot when they get all sweaty.
  • If there are straps, I like them to have non-conspicuous elastic attached.
  • I like heels or wedges better because flats end up being just as uncomfortable and probably not looking as cute.

If this sounds like a lot, it’s way shorter than her list of requirements for a lot with a house on it (at the same link).

This is, of course, an attempt to stir up conversation.

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Threshold of pain

Ginger at I Own The World has assembled a collection of “Idiotic Shoes,” and it’s a case of truth in advertising: they’re all comfortably (well, some of them uncomfortably) nestled on the preposterous side of the spectrum.

shoes on nailsSmitty sent me the link, noting: “No idea what to make of this.” I figure it’s just a manifestation of the contemporary cultural imperative to the effect that Different Is Good (Except For [name of currently-disfavored group or idea]).

Picking Worst of Breed wasn’t easy, but I finally settled on this one. It simply looks excruciatingly painful; its component parts seem unworthy — for all I know, those may be exquisite crystals on the upper, but the heels seem to be ordinary 16d nails straight out of Ace Hardware — and its overall effect is something along the lines of “I wear this with a hair shirt made of steel wool.” Go cry, emo girl.

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Hoof hearted

What’s worse than a shoe with a gun for a heel? Right: a hoof with a gun for a heel.

Gun Hoof by Iris Schieferstein

This design comes from Iris Schieferstein, who calls it, with disarming simplicity, “Gun Hoof.”

I suppose this is the point where we discover if there’s something Lady Gaga won’t wear.

(Forwarded by a reader who shall remain anonymous for his own safety.)

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Bring out the support hose

There’s something just wrong with this shoe:

Women's Upscale Sandal by Stuart Weitzman

Stuart Weitzman came up with that, and dubs it “Upscale.” Uh-huh. I’ve got to agree with Style Spy: “They have a vaguely orthopedic air about them, don’t they?” Well, yeah, though orthopedic shoes tend not to have five inches of lift built into them. It might look better in the black, though. And at least it’s not one of these.

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Chanel No. 1911

Okay, it doesn’t look that much like a 1911, but Karl Lagerfeld, who designed this thing for Chanel, named it for Miami Vice and debuted it on South Beach, is presumably more concerned with long legs than with small arms. I suppose this makes more sense than, say, Rose McGowan having an M4 Carbine for a prosthetic leg, but not much more: the number of women I know who might actually be tempted to wear this can be counted on the fingers of no hands, even if Chanel were giving them away, which they aren’t. The Manolo observes:

Chanel Miami Vice shoe by Karl Lagerfeld

Normally, the Manolo would be tempted to read some greater societal message into the appearance of such overtly gangsta bling shoes on the runway, but it is clear from everything the Manolo has read that they are here only because his Malignant Karlness thought they were cool.

And if you had a real gun in your shoe, a lot of people, not just fashionistas, would find themselves making a mad dash for, you should pardon the expression, the powder room.

Addendum: Well, somebody liked them.

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Shucks and the city

Dawn Eden, at the beginning of Chapter 10 of her best-seller The Thrill of the Chaste, quotes this noted shoe authority regarding Sex and the City:

[T]he former HBO series did have some impact on popular culture, to the extent that it’s had some small but measurable effect on women’s shoes, pushing them a notch or two in the direction of sheer frivolity.
Sarah Jessica Parker from here down

Perhaps I spoke too soon, or maybe I have trouble counting notches, because Sarah Jessica Parker, during a New York shoot for the film version of Sex and the City, was spotted wearing these extremely strange boots, possibly clogs with a pituitary problem, footwear for which no one apparently has a kind word. (And no one seems to be able to identify them, either; not even Shoewawa’s famed Ugly Shoes list turned up a reference, and I paged through literally scores of boots at Zappos. The things I go through for you people.) Admittedly, it’s hard to disagree with Jess Cartner-Morley’s assessment of the genre:

[E]very piece I read raving about ankle boots ended with a caveat along the lines of “ankle boots look brilliant on us beautiful people, because they contrast so winningly with our adorable, pipe-cleaner legs, but they look freaking hideous on disgusting size 12 weirdos who need liposuction”.

SJP might actually qualify on the “pipe-cleaner legs” bit, and normally I’d forgive her this sort of lapse in judgment — by my reckoning, she’s still got some goodwill left over from L.A. Story — but you should see the dress she was wearing at the time: it’s like Björk after a transporter accident.

Oh, I must retract: somebody has kind words for these boots. At the Sun, Bizarre columnist (now that’s a title) Gordon Smart says:

The Biz secretary told me: “If a fella buys me those shoes I’ll marry him no matter who he is.”

I despair.

In the absence of information to the contrary, I blame Patricia Field.

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Veal with a heel

Marc Jacobs bootsShoewawa picked this as their Ugly Shoe of the Week, and it is indeed hideous: “[Marc Jacobs has] taken it upon himself to spit on the very name of poor little calves. Made — literally — from calf hair, this is the designer equivalent of a farmyard petting zoo; and while I’m usually not averse to leather footwear, this pair just about makes me cry.” And if the appearance doesn’t bring tears, the price tag will: $998.95 at Zappos Couture, which describes them as “fierce and a bit funky.” If you say so, Zapp.

Addendum: I showed these (well, the picture anyway) to Trini; she found them to have no redeeming social value.

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Worst. Shoes. Ever.

Worst shoes ever

Well, maybe not the absolute worst — you might have to go back to Chinese foot-binding days for that — but this pair of whatever the hell they are demands a full flushing with eye bleach. Remember when “cruel shoes” meant “uncomfortable”? These are cruel to the observer. I imagine some wan fellow in the studio, feeling the pressure of a deadline, when suddenly it occurs to him: “I’ve got it! It’s a boot and a flip-flop and a floor wax and a dessert topping!” Then, of course, his head explodes, because there is balance in nature. You can look at the entire outfit if you’re so inclined, but trust me: it’s not going to help. (There’s also a snarky poll at that link.)

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