I was re-watching a Buster Keaton montage last weekend on YouTube set to old Radiohead music. The comedian’s flips and falls, though well-choreographed, were this close to deadly in every scene. In my own small way, I could relate. How many times have I put myself in mortal danger with my clothes?
Almost every day of my life.
This spring season especially features items that have nearly killed me in the past — the tiny skirt, the super-high platform, and the maxi-scarf. Beware, children, of the accoutrements I list here, because while they look amazing in still photos, moving in these things can wreck you. Just ask Isadora Duncan, bless her heart.
Yes, platforms are back. And they are reaching the full-saturation point, meaning that they will shortly be marketing them to children and grown-ups. The recent trend started in 2006 with sightings of both Olsens in Balenciaga platform ankle boots. It was only a matter of time — the stiletto always leads to the platform. Stilettos greatest problem are twisted ankles; platforms tend to result in broken noses.
A side effect to which I thought I was immune. I had been tottering around the house in my mother’s heels since I was 9, as her tiny, exquisite adult feet and my underage ones were the same size. Fast-forward to the 18-year-old me, dancing in the Wild Club when it was still newish. I am wearing backless platform mules with a Louis heel.
Everything was going perfectly fine until I turned and started to fall out of my mules. My arms wheeled through the air, trying to find the center point of balance. Had I started to fall in the shoes, I would have been fine. Falling out of the shoes left me nowhere to go but backward, where my head would smash against the dance floor.
As I clenched my eyes for the hard landing, a pair of hands caught me and shoved me back into my shoes in time with the beat of the music playing overhead. I turned, upright and surprised, to a grinning man still moving in rhythm. We danced together for a moment, and he disappeared into the night. Only a gay man could catch a falling woman with such élan.
Did I make this particular mistake again? Never on a dance floor. Yet, just last month, in fact, I fell sideways in a pair of heels. The trick, you see, is to tuck in your body before you fall. Really sexy, huh?
This accessory is poking its head here and there into the upper strata of couture. It may never trickle down, due to the fussiness required to drape the scarf just so around the neck. My attempt in this direction was a sheer curtain I found in a thrift store, artfully arranged (or at least I thought so) around my neck. Fine, yes? I was 19, and oblivious. I didn’t think through all the possible scenarios in which long scarves are a hazard.
I was on a blind date wearing the aforementioned item. The gentleman was walking behind me. Somehow, he managed to step on the tail of the scarf in the middle of Earl Abel’s, yanking me backwards and very nearly strangling me. Did he catch you? you might ask. No. He was a mere heterosexual and watched, surprised, as I stumbled backward, face red from oxygen loss. Despite my pratfall, the date went well. My accident did cause the man to ask me a question: “Why are you wearing a curtain on your head?”
“I thought it looked nice,” I said.
“It looks like a curtain.”
“Oh,” I said.
Did his comment stop me from wearing my “scarf”? No. I hacked off the bottom section from each side, and washed it so that the ends frayed and trailed above the knee. I was obsessed with the Antwerp Six by then, those avant-garde deconstructionists who would come to dominate every aspect of my wardrobe for the next five years. My clothing stopped being a hazard to me; now I was a hazard to my clothes, with my scissors and my cold-water dyes. My razors and lighters.
Was I trying to get back at the clothes that had constricted me all those years? Possibly, but I don’t think so. Ten good years have passed. The first moment I saw the Balenciaga boot in ‘06, I wanted it. I was over 30 and perfectly reasonable by that time. I thought my platform years were behind me. They weren’t. They aren’t. Tuck and roll, my friend. Tuck and roll. •
When it comes to fabulous shoes, injuries, shminjuries, right? Not necessarily. Two hard-hitters of the local community — kicks enthusiasts and discerning boomers — are on target in terms of trend and comfort.
“The biggest thing we’re seeing now is the gladiator sandal,” said Sherry Leeper, co-owner of LeeLee Shoes on Broadway. “In all its permutations, from high heels to sandals.” The gladiator sandal, much like the Balenciaga platform, was one of those items to first show up on an Olsen or two.
Leeper also noted the shift from seasonal fashion rules to an anything and everything goes attitude in the last few years. “We’re seeing boots for summer and suede, python, and all the great leathers,” Leeper said. Since suede used to be the big fashion no for summer, Leeper is enjoying the new freedom afforded her clientele.
On the other end of the spectrum is Sole Boutique, also on Broadway, whose primary love is well-crafted kicks. Co-owner Julio Rodriguez is most excited about the limited-edition Saucony Candy Pack, which contains three styles — “Kit-Kat,” “Reese’s,” and “Snickers.”
But, he adds, “we’re also seeing lots of loud colors for spring and sheer materials — purples and hot pinks.”
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