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April 20 2014

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free speech: hadley freeman on the beauty of ugly shoes

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Glad2

Some trends slip down easily with the masses: tunic dresses, oversize sunglasses, giant It bags. And then there are trends that only appeal to those who wear fashion goggles, those amazing glasses that make the implausible look desirable—magically morphing, say, dresses with stiffened, puffed shoulders from an alien’s version of eighties shoulder pads into a gorgeous mix of modernism and retro referencing. Ugly shoes fall squarely into this latter category. Shoes that look like Transformers, shoes with teapots for heels, shoes with no apparent heels, and the ugliest (and currently most fashionable) of them all: gladiator sandals—fabulously casual to the fashion-goggle wearer, orthopedic and/or geriatric to everyone else.

Although there is something perverse in spending $500 (OK, closer to $1,000) on shoes that are, well, ugly, there’s a delightfully honest quality about the trend. A conventionally attractive choice—say, quasi-invisible strappy stilettos—might make the wearer look sexier in an “Oh, yes, I naturally glide through the air like Tinker Bell” sort of way, but if I spend half the month’s rent on a pair of shoes, I want people to notice them. OK, maybe this “noticing” comes in the form of them asking, “Why are you wearing my Great-Aunt Gerta’s sandals with your jeans?,” but at least attention has been paid.

Photo: Davide Gallizio

going whole (hedge) hog

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H_bag
H_ring

H_elvis
H_shirt

Though the Brits have long had an affection for the cute, quill-covered animals, most Americans’ exposure to hedgehogs is limited to Sega’s early nineties hero, Sonic. Lately, though, designers seem to be finding inspiration in the spiky creatures, because they’re popping up in some unexpected places. A few that have turned up on our radar:

Le Sportsac is introducing a hedgehog print for Fall that features two rather friendly specimens falling in love on the nylon (top left, available in August, www.lesportsac.com).

Clothier Madewell gets to the point with a well fitting tee emblazoned with a graphic line drawing of an Atelerix albiventris—and the shirt is ultrasoft, even if its inspiration isn’t (bottom right, about $30, in stores this fall, more information at www.madewell1937.com).

And perhaps most fabulously, the dangerous-looking animal gets the luxe treatment from Bulgari, cast as a statement ring in rose gold, complete with ruby eyes and a black diamond nose (top right; more information at www.bulgari.com).

Want to know more about this adorable muse? Check out Hedgehog World for photos and information on the domesticatedAfrican pygmy variety, kept as pets here in the U.S. of A. Disclaimer: After your faithful correspondent perused the photo galleries, it was only a matter of time before I had to have my own (Elvis, bottom left, about $225; similar models available at www.hamorhollow.com).

Photos: Bag, shirt, Elvis: Nicola Kast. Ring, courtesy of Bulgari.

the hair apparent is a bob

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Anouck
Gwyneth

Lauren
Liv

And then, the deluge. When Lauren Santo Domingo returned from her honeymoon with her hair chopped to chin length, she appeared to give women the world over permission to lose the locks they’d been growing out since, like, ever. The bob is upon us. Blunt will always rule the day where bobs are concerned, of course, but lately an alternate style has emerged. In the past month or so, Gwyneth, Liv, and Anouck have all shown up for photo ops in slightly unkempt, softer bobs, a look forgiving enough of unruly hair to tempt even the biggest bob-phobe. “Well, fashion’s so interested in the shoulder right now; it makes sense that girls want to show that part of themselves off,” says stylist Ashley Javier, who’s found himself cropping plenty of tresses recently. “And plus, when there’s so much that’s floral and super-feminine, it’s nice to have a cut that’s a little sharper, more polished and serious. But the key is to find the right bob for you. If you have curly hair, you need to watch out for a cut that’s too blunt, on the one hand, or too layered on the other.” And as Javier goes on to note, fans of the last great tress trend need not fear the chop: Bangs will work with a bob, too. “I think bangs got us to the bob,” he muses. “I mean, it’s like one day women woke up, looked at all their floozy-woozy flowing hair, and thought: Enough of this mess.”

Photo: Anouck Lepere, NEIL RASMUS/PatrickMcMullan.com; Gwyneth Paltrow, Theodore Wood/Camera Press/Retna Ltd.; Liv Tyler, George Napolitano/FilmMagic; Lauren Santo Domingo, DAVID X PRUTTING/PatrickMcMullan.com

j.crew adds sequins, goes high-end

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Jcrew

More proof that the middle of the market is disappearing: J.Crew has a $3,000 jacket for sale, its priciest item to date. Part of the label’s higher-end J.Crew Collection, the tortoise sequin jacket, as it’s called, is an “opulent creation completely covered with shimmering French sequins—each one a unique shade of tortoiseshell, each sewn by hand to silk chiffon using a classic couture technique. Sound like a stretch for a brand that made its name reinterpreting WASP classics? Khakis and button-downs are clearly no longer the steady sellers they once were: The company is also selling fine jewelry, and come fall, will be opening a New York shop entirely devoted to Collection pieces.

Photo: Courtesy of J.Crew

the spring buy

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Spring_buy

The buyer: Averyl Oates, fashion buying director, Harvey
Nichols


What did you invest in heavily for Spring?

Christopher Kane is proving to be one of the city’s most promising talents,
and we have been overwhelmed by this season’s performance. Customers have
loved his biker jackets in both cashmere and leather, and the sheer ruffled
dresses have also had a fantastic reaction.

What’s been your biggest seller so far?

One of the season’s highlights has to be shoes. Customers were calling in
early requesting for their names to be wait-listed on key styles as soon as
shows were posted on Style.com. Fortunately, heavy increases were projected
on Lanvin, Balenciaga, Chloé, and McQueen, so we could ensure that our
customers were kept satisfied. The Dries Van Noten Masai beaded sandals made
a new record as the most requested style, and the intriguing upside down
shoe from Marc Jacobs barely hit the shop floor before they all sold out.
Our newcomers Nicholas Kirkwood and Alejandro Ingelmo have been very
well-received, and we have had to increase our Fall buys in order to keep up
with demand.

What had the longest waiting list?

Generally we have an extremely high demand for Lanvin. Despite significantly
increasing the buy for Spring ’08, we struggled to satisfy all of the
customers on our waiting lists. Again, the items the Harvey Nichols
customers were crying out for were the on-trend brightly colored dresses,
such as looks 21 through to 23. Lanvin jewelery is incredibly popular, and
customers are lining up to get their hands on the show pieces; it’s
challenging to fulfill such a significant waiting list.

What are your customers asking for when they come in?

As well as loving the trend for bright colors, sheer and floral fabrics have
been in high demand. Most of the floral Balenciaga catwalk pieces have been
pre-sold, as well as those from Giles and Dries Van Noten.

class="creditphoto">Photo: Marcio Madeira