Kirstie Clements: Beauty meets comfort in a shoe mismatch made in heaven

What makes a perfect collaboration? Kirstie Clements finds a hit and a miss.

What makes a perfect collaboration? Kirstie Clements finds a hit and a miss. Photo: Rag & Bone/Manolo Blahnik

In one of those miraculous moments, the fashion gods offered up the perfect shoe this month, a collaboration between master shoe designer Manolo Blahnik and Birkenstock.

Manolo is known for his wildly gorgeous shoes, usually spindly delicate treasures, in rich satins and grosgrains, delicately bejewelled. Perfectly designed for walking from the car into the restaurant, objects of sheer beauty, practicality be damned.

Birkenstocks, of course, are wildly comfortable, sort of ugly, kind of cool.

But put them together and, oh my, you have perfection. A deep marine blue velvet Birkenstock sandal with silvery crystal buckles. (it also comes in black velvet and red velvet). I think it might be my dream shoe.

The perfect shoe doesn’t exis … hang on a minute, what?! Photo: Birkenstock


“Birkenstocks have been in my wardrobe since the very beginning (of time!),” Blahnik said in a statement.

“I have loved and worn mine for many years. I am thrilled that we have been able to collaborate, fusing the Manolo Blahnik aesthetic with the everyday comfort of Birkenstocks is simply wonderful.”

It suddenly occurred to me that male shoe designers have probably never actually walked a mile in our stilettos (well, maybe not all of them) and designing a comfortable shoe must come as a rude shock.

There is also the quite awful Birkenstock Boston clog, transformed by Blahnik in vivid pink with crystal adornments. They make my heart sing. When comfortable becomes fabulous, it’s a win for the customer and it looks like they sold out in hours.

Another extremely daggy trend I saw repackaged as marvellous this month is the super, super soft jean.

“What is this?” I hear you ask.

It was on US, and when I investigated more thoroughly it turned out they were talking about jeans made of sweat-pant material. Dear God! It was sold like this:

“The search for casual pants that aren’t jeans is becoming easier and easier, thanks to labels like Rag & Bone. A few weeks ago, we fell in love with the brand’s Miramar trousers when Paulina Porizkova posted a picture of the hybrid pants. At first glance, they look a lot like a trendy pair of baggy jeans, but they’re actually wide-leg sweatpants with a denim-like print.

“It’s pure fashion alchemy … long gone are the days when we had to choose between comfort or style. Several brands have found ways to cleverly combine the effortlessly cool look of denim with cosy, soft materials.”

This is not a thing, my friends, let it not be so. We have seen sweatpants disguised as jeans before and rightly rejected them. They are so close to the dreaded jegging (part jean/part legging) that it scares me.

Paulina looks okay in hers to be sure, but she also has washboard abs in her mid-fifties, so there’s that.

But maybe I should just embrace the denim-print pant (eeuch, I even hate writing it) and put it back with a high-fashion, evening shoe/clog. We’ve thrown out gender as a fashion construct, so I guess we may as well toss out any last hovering good or bad taste dictates.

At least we’ll be comfy.

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