Wednesday, March 31, 2010

quick update

A long weekend enjoying some hiking and fresh desert air in Anza-Borrego put the ol' kaibosh on a post this week. So, apologies to you all. I'll be back to my regular posting schedule next week.


: f :

Friday, March 26, 2010

Shop Around

By Aqua Catlin

I went to shop the Jean-Paul Gaultier collection for Target. With a girlfriend, which was fun. I shop so much on my own for projects and characters and it keeps me painfully in my head so much so that its hard to want to shop for myself. I have my own couple resource shops I go to knowing they'll have something I love and I can be in and out and beyond that, I'm challenged. I'm really not trendy. I'm so into "looks" and classics so shopping at the standards can throw me off a bit. One day I'll tell you all about Nancy who I have on speed dial and her shop Le Joli off Melrose in West Hollywood. Its the little shop I could. And if you're like me that's wear you belong.

But I didress. We did a girl day and got makeup, shoes, clothes, lunch and late for everything that came after.

The important thing is: I had someone else's eyes to help me narrow it all down. The Gaultier for Target collection was, as expected, sadly out of stock and skeletal. I'd have thought that in 2010, when featuring a star designer, a corporate entity like Tarjzsay could order accordingly. But no and I will not forgive or forget. Ever. But I will be back.

Regardless, we had a blast trying on what we could find and we wreaked havoc on that changing room and their 6 item limit. Eventually being urgently reminded that its unisex up in there.

Sorry I'm having trouble dowloading images so I'll have to link you to the pieces. My friend looks so amazing in this frock (sans studded belt shown) which features a puffy a line skirt supported by plenty of stiff tulle and check out the neckline which is a lovely sweetheart shape with a twist. Literally - the halter is twisted right round the neck which is a fresh and fun moment within such a classic silhouette. I didn't fare as well in it - the darn tulle...I looked just puffy like a 1950's Monroe cartoon dress monster, heehee.

Whatevs, I don't waste my time feeling bad: I got this and it makes my heart smile. Its pure girl. Check out the teeny tiny pleating and lace trimmed hem. Its a classic "Just A Salad LPD" (little pink dress), but who cares I actually think I love it more than food. By the way the line runs really true to size. Though they have a bunch of juniors sizes so you do have to find what works. I'm a small and that seems about a 5 - 7 in juniors. (This made me laugh. That fuschia dress I bought is XS but the local trendy boy talent said I look great in it, "Just do 50 situps first" [pause, LOLs!! Thanks I guess] heheh. I've lost 5lbs but also muscle apparently.)

Here's the fabu jacket I mentioned in my previous post that I'd have loved to find it but it wasn't in stock. What a surprise. But all for the best because its $199.99. We're in almost in summer so its best to wait for the sale. This motorcycle jacket was so cool, very padded and quilted but again..$200 and I don't even have a scooter yet.

K. There were some really weird moments too but I'm probly just not edgy enough to "get it" or its too junior for me. And why is JPG seemingly channeling Ed Hardy? Eew. And cheap and nasty fabric too - be warned.

Still there were some precious pieces and this was beautiful on me especially the color but wasn't in my size in stock. Shock horror. May order online because I'm still thinking about it and regrets suck, though here again, the fabric is dube.

Ok. Now that you've seen all this variety and eclectic offerings from Jean-Paul Gualtier for Target, check out this from our dear friends over at Shoeblog and be wowed at the endless creativity he gives us. Love people who don't do limits.

Next time: something wonderful for vegan girly-girls and you non-vegan shoe-loving girly-girls..

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ALDO's epic fail

by frédérik sisa

I’ve been bubbly with enthusiasm lately so I thought I’d inject a note of negativity to shake things up a bit. No, I’m not going to pick on Simple Shoes for a boring men’s collection that consists of sneakers, potato sacks, and flip flops. Instead, I’m going to direct some disappointment towards ALDO, the Montreal-based shoe company whose stores are just about everywhere.

Once upon a time, ALDO shoes was my favourite shoe store. Other than a pair of very gothic kick-ass moon boots ornamented with industrial hardware, they offered one of the nicest slides around. The kicker, if you’ll pardon the pun, is that while the boots eventually expired after many years of wear, the sandals are still around and in great shape. That’s over 10 years, kids. Better yet, they’re still as stylish and contemporary today as they were back then, which says something about ALDO’s design sense. Check ‘em out:

But something happened. ALDO somehow stopped being forward-looking and became navel-gazing instead. Looking very much like a derivative of Italian style, with an obsession for pointed footwear, ALDO lost the appeal it once had. The shoes are fine in general, for what they are – reflections of trends that have no unique identity but nevertheless are robustly and capably designed.

(Image of slide "Arendal" from Interesting grommet detail.)(Image of shoe "Hattabaugh" from

Sandals, however, are a different matter. Yep, you guessed it. Most of what they offer us gents consists of flip flops. Gone are the days of slides with nice detailing like straps, cut-outs, and toe loops. Or are they?

While browsing through the Spring collection – hope springs eternal, says the cliché – I came across this bad boy:

(Image of the mighty "Edland" from

Oh yeah. A gladiator sandal. Finally, something different. Gladiators have been all the rage in women’s footwear for a few seasons now, and only the priciest brands offered anything for men. Now, at last, a great-looking pair of sandals at a price within reach.

For a couple of weeks I – well, “pined” is not the right word – kept an eye on these, debating whether to order them online or visit a store. I opted for the store option and called around; the Beverly Center store was the only one that carried them. Off I went, then, to give them a try and…they only come in dark brown, the heel cup is strangely weak, and the footbed/sole is flat enough to qualify as two-dimensional. The upper, with toe loop and double-buckle ankle closures, is great. Needless to say, I don’t do brown. Ever. Strike one. The heel cup was a bit too weak for the shoe. Strike two. And I like a bit of soul in my soles, so strike three. ALDO’s out.

It’s apparently enough of a bummer for me to resort to sports metaphors. And it shows why I somehow keep mistyping ALDO as ALSO. As in: also ran. Given the standards set by previous efforts and the designs of artisans like Kiwis, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect more from established, professional design brands like ALDO. Or is it?

In any case, that’s my report for the week. I may have a consolation prize to write about sometime soon. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about your shoe shopping experiences out there…which stores do you love, hate, or just don’t get? Show us some love and leave a comment below!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

the cure for the common sandal: Kiwi Sandals

by frédérik sisa

Ah, spring. A season that needs no introduction. While ladies get to enjoy a cornucopia of sandal options, like those gorgeous United Nudes I wrote about last week, we guys are offered a marvelous choice…of flip-flops. Or fisherman’s sandals. Woohoo.

But fear not, there is hope: Kiwi Sandals, based in Lucerne Valley, California. I came across the website about three years ago and really, really liked the styles and selection. Naturally, I bought a pair after much hemming and hawing over which one to get. Lee Risler has been handcrafting leather sandals since 1963 and, with his son, is still at it. Despite the low-tech website, ordering is very easy: send a tracing of your foot, choose your style, send payment (credit cards accepted). The foot tracing is really key, because Mr. Risler will customize the sandal to your foot. This, of course, ensures the best fit.

But it’s the selection of styles that really ask for attention. Classic, timeless, versatile – they dress up the casual and keep grounded a peacock’s ensemble.

Other than a simple thong, Kiwi offers a toe loop and single upper band sandal, one of my favourites of the bunch:

Or, the multi-strap sandals I’m wearing (like the ones at the top of this post):

After three years, they remain one of my most reliable and comfortable pair of sandals - and the style never fails to draw admiring comments.

The sandals come in black or brown leather, cushion or leather soles. Mr. Risler will even take special orders. And you may ask, how much does it cost for a custom-fitted pair of sandals? $74, except for the thong sandals ($59) and the back-strap sandal with two thick, separate bands for the upper ($78). That’s really good value. It’s also proof that men’s sandals don’t have to be boring flip flops. Given the amount of imagination that goes into women’s shoes, there’s no reason for designers to take the lazy way out with men and just stick a pattern on the footbed of a flip flop and call it a day. (I never really understood the point of sticking a pattern or print on the part of a flip flop that people stand and walk on.) Give us straps, I say! Give us interesting patterns! Gives us buckles and rivets! Lee Risler can do it at a great price, so what’s everyone else waiting for?

And just before I give the impression that Kiwi’s is for guys only, these sandals are really accessible to everyone – unisex, if you will. They have a universal style that is rooted in the general notion that men’s apparel and footwear requires a robust aesthetic, but women can get away with anything. As an added bonus, women who want heels can have them, although Mr. Risler doesn’t recommend going beyond 1”.

  • Unisex, but especially great for men.
  • Wonderful choice of styles.
  • Customized to fit your feet.
  • Reasonable price.
Awesome. I can’t believe I didn’t write about Kiwi Sandals sooner. Check ‘em out!

Note: With the exception of the photo of me (well, my feet), images are borrowed from the Kiwi Sandals website for illustrative purposes only.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

sex on heels: United Nude's spring/summer 2010 collection

by frédérik sisa

Or should that be sex AS heels?

United Nude strikes again with their spring/summer 2010 collection, an expansion of founder Rem D. Koolhaas and Galahad Clark’s distinctively architectural design style. Building on their work with iconic shoes MOBIUS and EAMZ, newcomers to the collection include FRAME…
…which is sibling to the equally captivating COSMO (just look a that twisting shape!):
These are, of course, directly inspired by a building’s structural frame, and the result is stunning. I tend to frown on precarious shoes. There’s nothing especially appealing about seeing a woman strut like a clumsy giraffe in shoes about to crumple in on themselves. The cleverness of these high-heeled sandals, like UN footwear, lies in the structural engineering, a balance that, like a cantilever, creates an illusion of instability but is in fact very robust. So forget frowning on precarious; hello to smart design that yields evocative aesthetics.

Other notables include CUP, seen below in its buckle configuration with an elastic upper and mid-height heel. As the name describes, the defining feature is the smooth and sculpture cup that cradles the heel. I really dig the black and white contrast, although they do have other, very nice colours and patterns.
Here is GRAFFITI, which features the brand name in a three-dimensional pattern embroidered on a platform peep-toe. Not my particular favourite – peep toes are to me what clogs are to Aqua, although I don’t get so nauseated about it – but certainly interesting as an example of designer street fashion.
CORAL is a lovely perforated flat. It’s available in nine colours and made of lightweight EVA. Admittedly, I’m skeptical about the comfort of synthetic materials like EVA – I still can’t quite figure out how Melissa’s Plastic Dreams gets any traction. But it must be comfortable to many or the material wouldn’t be popular. Regardless, this space-age cutie seems like a winner to me as an alternative to the traditional ballet flat.

I’d say “finally,” but all this is really the tip of the iceberg. I did want to mention the LABEL shoe, which is the result of a collaboration between United Nude and Dutch-fashion designer Antoine Peters, the fella behind the A SWEATER FOR THE WORLD project in which he takes pictures of people inside a two-person sweater. Admittedly, my classical preferences chafe a bit at his hipster-pop aesthetic, but the label shoe does poke some nice fun at the designer habit of plastering branding on everything.
But I don’t know, ladies. Would you wear it?

Just so I don’t leave you on such an ambiguous note, I can’t resist drawing your attention to a flat from the BLOCK collection. The concept is abstract yet sublime; the better side of modern art. A block is merged with the shoe, in this case a ballet flat, yielding an unconventional and very striking silhouette. It’s like the thinking person’s shoe dipped in chocolate. (No, I’m not sure where that dreadful metaphor came from.)
To see the rest of this always exciting and vivacious collection, do mosey on over to Or check out this lookbook. Society’s fetish for women’s footwear has rarely been indulged so brilliantly with candy for the eyes and the brain.

And see? A whole post on wonderful women’s footwear without mentioning Standard Complaint No. 1. Oh wait. D’oh.

Note: Images borrowed from for illustrative purposes.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Survival Straps: interview with kurt walchle (part 2)

by frédérik sisa

This week I bring you part 2 of my interview with Survival Straps' Kurt Walchle. It turns out that it's only one question, but hey, it's all about the future. The future counts for a lot. You can catch up on Part the First here.

So far, you have bracelets, anklets, dog collars, rifle slings, key fobs, watch straps, belts…even a “germ grenade” hand sanitizer holder. What’s next for Tough Gear Inc and Survival Straps?

We have big plans for this year. We will be launching a pink line which a portion of the proceeds will be benefiting Breast Cancer Research. We will also be launching our "Thin Blue Line" gear which will be benefitting a fund that supports the families of fallen police officers. We are super excited about these two lines. As far as additional products, we will be adding Guitar Straps, Tactical Camera slings, Hat bands, Dog Leashes, and a couple of other top secret items which should blow people away! Stay Tuned!
Sounds like big plans indeed.

Many thanks to Kurt for taking the time to answer these questions, and kudos for expanding the range of good causes!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Good Life

By Aqua Catlin

Jean Paul Gaultier is in Target!!! Girls only. He's done a collection for each of his muse's personality.

They are Punk, Hollywood Glam, Ingenue, Hip Hop and Rock N' Roll. The looks will be available next week.

I'm in love with Hollywood, Ingenue and a leather jacket with millions of details in the Hip Hop collection. Just what I've been wanting with all this weather.

As you know, JPG designed
Madonna's infamous cone-bra corset leotard and followed up by doing a version of Classique and Le Male, fragrances with a tribute collectible version of Classique. And while I love the man version, I've never smelled Classique. Anyone?

Gaultier has designed for so many musicians -(Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Kylie), he really is the rock and roll designer, and being a music lover, its so exciting to have access to his looks. He's also been a Costume Designer for many films and a fashionoclast in general. He keeps finding ways to be creative.

Target's been doing an amazing job of bringing on big name designers, most recently Rodarte. I could wear this one every day and night (sans military boots) respectively. Leopard print belt on powder blue = love.

I find Target never has anything in stock less than a size 8 so its frustrating but I will be having an in-store tanty the salespeople if they can't sell to me from this line.
I don't think Ralph Lauren would ever do a line as accessible as Target because of their outlet stores but I look forward to seeing Target top this! If Tom Ford does a line I will die a happy and chic woman.