“I saw that and thought of you.” The image that lights up my WhatsApp chat, sent by a best friend from school, is a screenshot of one of Bottega Veneta’s most controversial Pre-Fall 2019 shoes. A black stiletto heel, with a disconcerting square toe, crafted from sheer mesh and accented with a gold chain that clips around the ankle. Immediately, I send back a selfie. In it, I capture the identical style in all its oddly angled, fetish-meets-fisher-net glory. Of course I own them. Call the acquisition – and the ensuing exchange of images – the tip of an ugly iceberg.
A non-exhaustive list of âuglyâ shoes that have been hacked in our current exchange: Crocs Madame by Balenciaga â in other words, a slip-on rubber Croc with a tent-peg-like heel; another Balenciaga model, created in collaboration with Vibram, with five articulated toes and a heel that looks like a spring; an Adidas Yeezy Sand shoe, a perforated slip-on sneaker resembling the hollowed-out skull of an interstellar animal; a Bottega Veneta Puddle boot in radioactive slime green with a wave sole. Plus, a range of Maison Margiela Tabi boots, Mary-Janes and ballet flats that I’ve made ‘in the wild’ – often to my friend’s horror – all with that split toe we love or love. we hate.
Unlike my elegance-prone best friend, I gravitate towards shoes that resemble the beak of a platypus or the hoof of a barnyard animal. While some find these styles tricky, I find their quirky look sparkly. Why wear something nice, when you could choose something polarizing?
For others who err on the ugly side, Spring/Summer 2022 welcomes a transitional style for the warmer season, affectionately labeled by vogue publishers as the “hobbit shoe”. It’s big, slouchy, and slip-on, a sizable slipper, fascinating not only to residents of Middle-earth, but also to mere mortals who crave the easy, but also the unusual. It is best paired with something equally carefree – baggy jeans, a long shirt dress or a denim mini skirt.
A host of labels offer Shire-centric options, from JW Anderson to Khaite, Birkenstock to Isabel Marant. For maximum Marmite-y merit, they’re accented with bold buckles, studded bands and colorful crystals – these clogs are part arts and crafts teacher, part cult leader.
One ring to rule them all? I’d take any of these shoes over magic jewelry, and I’m sure Bilbo Baggins would agree. But the most important barometer of my latest obsession with ugly shoes? I’m expecting a WhatsApp from my fiercest shoe reviewerâ¦ “I saw this and thought of you!”