Monday, November 24, 2008

What is a modernist to do?

Mr. Hare looks at a lot of shoes in order to make this blog happen. Increasingly, I am astounded at the lack of new ideas that cross my desktop. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of traditional craftsmanship and little excites me more than the subtly shifting proportions of lasts, as new perceptions of style filter in and out of  our collective psyche's.
Take these J.M. Westons designed by Michel Perry for instance. A renegade shoe man given free reign inside a traditional house. I love the way all the pieces harmoniously sweep over eachother. I love the perfectly proportioned and lovingly shaped chisel toe. That is so easy to get so wrong. I love the back curvature which is continued in the slightly cuban heel. The confident high tongue. Most of all I love the sculptural presence of the whole shoe. In traditional terms this is as modernist as it gets in November 2008.
Cut to McQueens offering at the same point of the epoch and Michel Perry's J.M.Weston looks even more sophisticated. Recently mens shoes have become so generic and so harking back, but with little research, that Mr. Hare is yearning for something modern and brilliant to happen.
The Lanvin wedge sole shoe is undoubtedly the big story of this season and as part of the entire Lanvin story it makes sense. But what is it? The last is so traditional any number of Derby interpretations could suffice. The wedge sole delivers extra comfort and diminished weight, both features that would have been highly attractive to my grandfather.
They are beautifully finished so 10/10 for that.
So to Dior for a glimpse at the future (or even the now, instead of the past). Bold colour use. Angular patterning. My Grandfather would not have worn these so that's good. Emotionally though, like the Lanvin's I am getting nothing. Like with modern art where you need to know the back story and the artist before a pile of junk takes on meaning.

Personally I am getting just as much from these $300 Mezlans.
I have never heard of Mezlan and know not where they come from but I can instantly relate to their shoes. I know more about Dior and Lanvin than I could possibly need to, yet still I have to ponder their shoes. I know what your thinking "Mr Hare,  you're just a trad freak!" If that is the case then how come these next shoes from my NBF Sruli Recht are the most interesting and exciting thing I have seen lately?
Everything about them is awesome. The sole is a seperate sculpture that was perfected before they met the uppers. They are lasted in quite a western style which should be wrong, but then when the upper is styled in such a feminine way the whole guido, hairdresser, irony thing is replaced by a challenge to your shoe sensibilities. Take away all the physical aspects of these shoes and emotionally I am looking at my favourite movie, my best song, my first kiss, my last kiss and more emotion than I could possibly afford a therapist to mine.
There is of course Miuccia. Oh Miuccia. She just gets better and better. I wouldn't buy or wear these, but I love to look at them. The whole no laces/John Varvatos thing makes me want to cull, but when Miuccia even removes the lace holes it makes me smile. These remind me of primitive cave flint tools and in terms of the near future of mens shoes I think they may be just as important. Who says both shoes have to be assymetrical and the same colour on both feet? Literally patterned or abstractly, it's all good.

Admittedly these would not look out of place in Africa or the middle east or even Shepherds Bush market, but anywhere else they are different and despite our natural inclinations, different is what we should all try to be.


Sugar Ray said...

Mr. Hare, I'm a bit shocked that you are (or at least were) unfamiliar with the Mezlan brand. By now, I'm sure you've found that these shoes are handcrafted in Spain, and come in a rather interesting variety of styles and leathers. What you may not be aware of is the fact that Mezlan is one of the few shoe manufacturers that makes stylish shoes for the larger-footed gent. For those of us that wear sizes 13 and above (Yankee size; not sure what that tranlates to on your side of the pond), Mezlan is Heaven on heels!

Mr. Hare said...

Sugar Ray, I am a bit surprised you dug so deep into my blog. Well done you.
For your information a US13 is the same as a UK12, which I make Mr. Hare shoes in too so I hope you like mine as much as Mezlan.
Glad to hear from anyone who knows anything about shoes so keep in touch.