When Celine’s fur lined sandals hit the runway last October, the style press immediately jumped on them as A THING. This happens often in fashion – a world in which new trumps well-executed every time - but the excitement was all the more palpable because these unashamedly out-there tootsie warmers were the work of Phoebe Philo aka the woman who made minimalist mainstream. Plus they looked zeriously cosy.
Philo’s pool sliders, or in the vernacular, furry Birkenstock-esque sandals, were an instant hit with the FROW simply because they were so original, unexpected and thus fashion fabulous. Which made one online news channel’s assertion that Celine’s shoes were, “a new contender for the ugliest shoe in fashion,” all the more perplexing.
In the context above, the fact that the shoes were ‘ugly’ and that editors were ‘besotted’ leads us to conclude that fashion people are at best misguided fools, at worst shallow lemmings. Pretty negative connotations we think you'll agree. While there may be more than a shred of truth in such claims – Zoolander is basically a documentary for krissake – when it comes to fashion’s ability to appreciate the grotesque, we can only see the positives.
Newsflash: Not everything has to be pretty. Beauty can be found in offensively off-kilter things, just as it can be found in a ‘Jolie-Laide’ (translated as a ‘good looking ugly woman’ and quite the buzzword right now). While the news channel above might be fascinated by a prescriptive view of beauty, fashion is more Lily than Cheryl Cole. The rollcall of unconventionally beautiful women who have found fans in the fashion world include some of the most captivating faces of our time: Angelica Huston, Irina Lazareanu, Lou Doillon, Barbra Streisand...
In conclusion, a love of 'ugly' things in not always a case of Emperor’s New Clothes. Most new things are often abrasively unattractive at first – hello Picasso, the Eiffel Tower, Hillary Clinton... Only later does our eye adjust. Fashion may be many things, but to label its fetishisation of things that may not seem immediately appealing as foolish is to mis-understand its raison d’etre. So stop dissing the sliders – and give ‘em a chance, come (British) summer you might find they're just the ticket.