FA2L is for anyone who cares about beautiful things–clothing, shoes, accessories, home furnishings–and the interconnected tribes of those who make, sell, market and desire them. If something speaks to you, buy it now or hold your peace: there are links in each story, so the item you want is just a click away. I'd like to hear from you, too: please view my profile, use the email button and send me your comments.MG

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hot On His Heels

Words alone cannot explain the allure of shoes. Visual aids are a big help (see any Guy Bourdin or Helmut Newton photograph), but what's really required is extensive fieldwork. Trust me. As an ardent student of the subject, I've read endless musings by and about the greatest footwear designers of the last 110 years, from Yantourny (a near-mythical, early-20th-century Parisian shoemaker) to more recent masters like Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. In many ways, the writer who's come closest to capturing the thrill of beautiful shoes is Mimi Pond in her silly, but witty, little illustrated book, Shoes Never Lie. The problem is that even a demigod like Roger Vivier (generally credited with perfecting stilettos in the mid-1950s) can't talk about shoes without creating the same uncomfortable feeling Freud brings up when talking about sex. Enough talk, we think, let's have some action!

Brian Atwood, a newcomer to footwear's Mount Olympus, seems to grasp this intuitively: he keeps a relatively low profile and lets his designs take center stage. Which is ironic, seeing as the man is a publicist's dream. He's handsome (he modeled in Milan for several years after graduating from F.I.T.), charming and talented (evidenced by the years he worked for Gianni Versace as his main accessories designer). But Atwood is also smart enough to step back and let his luxurious shoes occupy the spotlight. He seems fascinated by the "Cinderella" moment that happens when a woman tries on a pair of his vertiginous heels: suddenly she's taller, she looks thinner and she feels more powerful. At which point, of course, words are just a lot of hot air.


Photograph by Ron Reeves