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By Raffaella Tomassi
By Caroline Ames and the Fashion Team
Fashion loves ugly shoes. From seventies platforms to the ever-present kitten heel, fashion’s favourite footwear has always pushed the limits of taste. A year ago I was sitting in a cafe listening to my friend complaining about these shoes called “creepers”. I’d never heard of them. Taking one look at the shocked expression on her face, I pointed out that the students of Goldsmiths were probably slightly edgier and more fashion-forward than the average Oxford Engineering undergraduate. She described a shoe with no heel but a raised sole made of soft rubber, providing height without the complication of walking difficulties. My immediate reaction was, “Well this sounds great.” Hers was, “Have you seen them?” The brothel creeper was 2011’s recruit to the ugly shoe hall of fame.
Footwear occupies the unfortunate position in fashion’s repertoire as the runt of the wardrobe. Without the demands of a centre stage role, designers tend to unleash their more dubious whims on our feet. Clogs, mules and Birkenstocks have all managed to find favour amongst fashion’s elite, despite their defiance of aesthetic norms. This season is no different with the big names and their budget equivalents all trying to assure us that Perspex heels, jelly shoes and the flatform are the way to go.
1. The Perspex Heel
Sports-luxe has returned once again to catwalks of each of the major fashion capitals, resulting in the bizarre combination of an object traditionally associated with feminine sexuality and a distinctly domestic material. To really embrace the perspex look pair with a plastic shopper à la Furla. For newcomers to the trend keep it simple with black skinny jeans and let the shoes talk for themselves. Maison Martin Margiela has produced a particularly charming pair of ankle boots, featuring a nude mesh outer and a 3-inch Perspex heel. If you feel like having a dabble in this most curious of footwear trends then the Margiela pair will set you back a reasonable £675. Bargain!
2. The Flatform
Updated for s/s 2012 the creeper has been reincarnated into some kind of horrifying sandal-creeper hybrid. Brothel creepers came to the UK after soldiers returned from WW2. This point alone should set the alarm bells ringing as the shoes were originally made for men. Fighting men. In the desert. Pollini and Prada have been the major culprits in the reinvention of this utilitarian shoe. To jump on the flatform bandwagon head to Topshop – the high street retailer of choice – offering a range of flatform variations from lace-ups to summer sandals. Be under no illusions: this is not a shoe for those lacking in confidence – it will do your figure absolutely no favours. Dress up with an asymmetric skirt or dress down with coloured jeans.
3. The Jelly Shoe
Championed by Vivienne Westwood, the jelly shoe has been recovered from relative fashion obscurity on the feet of unappreciative pre-schoolers. Her collaboration with Melissa upped the ugly shoe-anti to new heights, combining rubber with the kitten heel. Topshop have kept the jelly shoe sacrosanct, selling it to the fashionable masses in its original t-bar form. This is a particularly dangerous shoe where co-ordination is concerned – keep the rest of your oufit adequately sophisticated to avoid nostalgia overkill. Perfect for rain or shine, the jelly shoe does have its uses. Let’s just hope it doesn’t have the sartorial stamina to reach next season.