As the fashion citizens of the world unite this week at the tents of Bryant Park for the New York collections, there’s much curiosity this season about how budget cuts will affect designers’ creations. Fashion insiders say there will be a resetting of the dial—that the weaker talents will be sifted away. As for consumer consciousness, habits are not likely to change so quickly. People will still covet that Miu Miu shoe that will change their lives, making it perfect if even for a few moments. Still, a scaling back certainly can help us zone in on the real talents of the fashion world.
A style-curious friend (who reads fashion blogs but is far removed from the scene) asked me recently about comfort, mostly referring to the shoes. I’ll admit I own shoes that I’ve only worn to fashion shows. What’s even sillier is that I often arrive via subway. Well, I’m only packing low heels and flats this time; I want to enjoy the city.
Plus, I realized recently that you can wear a lower heel and still look good. Eureka, I know. Of course, it’s the over-the-top-ness of the Balenciaga and Dior stilettos that define our era, but seen from the wrong light, they can look a little like medieval instruments of torture, too.
I was just watching Annie Hall, and during the last scene (where Annie and Alvy say goodbye on the streetcorner and we hear the voiceover from Woody Allen about how you “need the eggs"), Annie sports an elegant boot with a sturdy block heel—two and a half, three inches tops. In films today, it’s rare to see the heroine wearing heels lower than four inches. And while it’s hard to tell what trend will define an era when you’re living in it, when I see clusters of rail-thin, stork-like women in their short skirts and high, high heels—shoulders hunched a bit forward (it’s extremely difficult to have good posture in a very tall heel)—well, it reminds me of corsetry and its crippling effect.
But everything looks different when you’re deep in the swim. And I’m sure a wave of regret will wash over me when I arrive in New York and get the first glimpse of those ladies with car services and fabulous Balenciaga power heels. Alas, I will be stuck with my flats—and not much wiggle room on my credit card to do anything about it.
Still, it will be fabulous to feel comfortable, taking long strides as the crowds pour out of the show—maybe even moving to the front of the pack.