going by the runways, they’ll continue to make a statement into spring. For less secure women who didn’t teeter around this
fall, and who don’t plan to in the future, the current alternatives are puzzling. From the shoe suggestions we saw at the
Paris tradeshow Premiere Classe, though, there is commercial appeal to the spring collections.
It’s being said that Manolo Blahnik is having his most successful run in seasons due to staying the course — producing those
well-constructed stilettos and eschewing the platform trend. We love the out-there designs on platforms, but the big drawbacks
to those elevated looks is that the silhouette appears dated the minute it comes down the runway, and only the most deft fashionista
can make it look even semi-natural. So, while experimenting for a season or two is a welcome change to re-focus the body,
a reversion back to shoes with more traditional lines is inevitable.
A couple of seasons ago, we profiled the genius of Max Kibardin, and while he remains a low-key personality during Premiere Classe, his discreet line of traditionally constructed shoes
represents some of the best on the market.
Kibardin’s footwear elicits a similar feeling as viewing a pair of Alaïas. Always elegant, with an ability to conjure up
fantasy, Kibardin hones in on every detail. His now-signature Scafo 100 heels (shaped like a ship’s hull) are known to old-school
Italian women as the best for posture and comfort, and are cut to maximize the foot’s beauty. Kibardin hit on the vibrant
color trend of the season by mixing turquoise, pinks, and yellows in patent, and supple snake- and lizardskin for stilettos
and a fetching selection of brilliantly colored flats.
Courtney Crawford, who beat out Kibardin to win the Alta Roma Who’s Next award, the top shoe designing prize, turned up the color volume in his ’80s-inspired collection. Crawford made
an unmistakable statement, decorating the insides of all his shoes in a dazzling golden bronze, then turning to a courageous
palette of turquoise, orange, white, and black to define spring — all on a single strappy sandal. Not the safest collection,
but Crawford is sticking to his high-octane designs for strong women who demand mega-glam fabulosity.
Both Kibardin and Crawford hit on the patent trend that began last season, and which we’ll see a lot more of in s/s ’07. The
feature is a safe way to represent the new plastic and synthetic shine on fashion. When Robert Clergerie experiments, he proposes some of the lightest options: for spring it’s patent Capezio-type flats in several colors, and patent
as piping on canvas espadrilles. Maloles, like Clergerie, uses a lot of patent trim, coming up a winner with much-adorned quirky flats, shimmering with flecks of
patent accents. With the general color explosion coming out of London, it’s no surprise to see Olivia Morris putting her patent cork-soled sandals, booties, and strappy flats through a vibrant color rinse. It’s a wash of yellows,
pinks, and greens for her collection. Nary a designer missed making a mark on the patent trend. Ernesto Esposito worked it in pinks, oranges, and pale greens, Amaterasu summons every color on the wheel for its series of ballet flats,
and Carmen Ho’s architectural point of view created many opportunities to use patent as dividers in her paneled flats of stingray
Laurence Dacade, which we considered last season’s most inspired collection, and Michel Vivien, who continues to make some of the most solid collections around, each found luster in patent. Dacade did them up in high
heel cutout sandals and lace–ups, while Vivien caught the trend in a denim and metallic group with discreet patent piping.
The attention to detail presented by these two brands, however, goes beyond their abilities to pick up on the season’s key
feature. Both are so evenly designed, with interest points for a host of women, it’s a shame to see such limited distribution
of these lines. Dacade’s braided python sandals and black and white croc pumps with peek-a-boo details, as well as Vivien’s
matte leather group of strappy stacked-heeled Mary Janes and wedges, are a shoe fantasist’s dream.
Gianni Barbato‘s typically strong leathers come with even more handwork, braiding, and distressed leathers this season. Brands such as
Walk that Walk are catching attention with sexy and original African-inspired designs like multi-colored fabric and leather combinations,
matte suedes, and chunky heels anchor its spring collection. Leflesh showed its signature shaped high heeled oxfords, natural leather flats, duffles, and shoulder bags in dusty pinks, turquoise,
navy blues and pale greens. Guillaume Hinfray, inspired by the ’80s and the sea, used a mix of washed blues and greens, and showed shoes decorated in shells with unexpected
flourishes of moirés and plastics.
The message appears to be that women continue to experiment with footwear, and want attention for their choices, but the move
for spring is to forego
outré shapes and focus on color and shine.
Max Kibardin s/s ’07
Courtney Crawford s/s ’07
Michel Viven s/s ’07
Laurence Dacade s/s ’07
Cleregerie s/s ’07
Olivia Morris s/s ’07
Leflesh s/s ’07
Walk that Walk s/s ’07