x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Fashion notes: don’t jump into ugly-flat shoes craze with both feet

I feel an impossible sense of betrayal in doing so, but let me introduce to you this season’s most prolific footwear trend: “the ugly flat”.

I never thought that I’d say it – I feel an impossible sense of betrayal in doing so, but let me introduce to you this season’s most prolific footwear trend: “the ugly flat”.

Certainly we have seen a few contenders in our day. It’s been the best part of a decade that we’ve sat quietly and observed while Ugg boots, the coloured-plastic Croc and, most recently, the neoprene pool slider did the rounds. We’re a patient bunch, after all. But here we have a shoe so obviously repellent that it looks almost apologetic. Their very existence some sort of grand ironic statement: we’re here, we’re terrible – we’re sorry.

From the alarming bejewelled hiking sandal by Prada to the rubbery flat and chunky offerings brought to us by Marni and Missoni, the only common denominator, that it is clunky, hefty and defiantly ugly.

Indeed, we should have seen it coming. It is, after all, the year that Karl Lagerfeld sent models down the runway at the Chanel couture show in trainers.

Certainly, as we know, good-looking flats are more of a necessity than a nicety. But this is something else entirely. For, despite the obvious protestations, there’s nothing more transparent than making a contrived statement. Such unapologetic irony will only leave us dressed in an outfit that looks like it belongs to someone else.

There’s no doubt that the 1990s have had a huge influence on its inspirations. Probably the most poorly defined era in fashion, and certainly one that causes us to scrutinise the basic principles of taste, who would have guessed that these clunky, orthopaedic-inspired wonders would rise once more from the dusty archives of the Spice Girls?

I could be missing the point entirely. Perhaps this whole movement is rife with symbolism – out to do something far more important than look nice, in challenging our preconceived ideals of femininity. Some will also argue that there are plenty of reasons for gratitude. Finally, here we are being ordered to wear a pair of exorbitantly comfortable shoes – in broad daylight – to impress. How delightful.

If only we could get over all the fuss, for here we have what could be essentially described as the dream shoe – incredibly easy to wear and as snug as a pair of slippers, all while looking like we skipped off the centrefold of Vogue.

However, I think there’s a little more to it than meets the eye. I get the feeling that we’re being played with a little – just because something is horrible doesn’t mean that it’s kitsch. Ironic dressing is a high-risk strategy and the sole preserve of the fashion elite. Get it right and, well, congratulations, you’re probably remarkably hip. Get it wrong and it’s rather unsettling.

The problem is that everyone has something to say about what we should be wearing – editors and bloggers offering so much opinion that it no longer generates debate, just more opinion. Which in turn is forcing us to bypass personal taste completely in the hope of recreating a certain look.

Despite what they tell us, for most of us, there’s a difference between dressing courageously and setting out to attract attention – fashion risks worth taking versus an attention-grabbing headline. “Satire” isn’t a word that we want to play around with too much when it comes to the basic principles of dress, so try not to get caught up in the whole commotion.

We are, when it comes down to it, a solitary breed, so let’s stick together on this and buy what we enjoy, not what we’re being told is cool – often, it’s our instincts that need listening to, first and ­foremost.

ktrotter@thenational.ae

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