Such is the influence of the successful fashion houses that one designer can send his models down the runway (or in Karl Lagerfeld's case, across the stage) and the river of style is at once diverted to go charging in new directions. Witness the renewed interest in clogs among trend watchers today. For years our favorite styles were relegated to the status of guilty pleasures and afterthoughts in most closets around the world. Now thanks to those substantial clogs featured in the Chanel Spring/Summer 2010 show last fall, people are not only talking about wooden shoes, they're buying and wearing them.
But this sort of influence isn't acquired easily. Designers constantly wrestle with ways to dazzle and surprise us. And while Alexander McQueen's armadillo boots made quite an impact, the attention hasn't resulted in manufacturers flooding the market with knock offs. So hats off to Karl Lagerfeld and the House of Chanel for putting clogs back in the fashion spotlight. At the same time, I feel we should acknowledge other fashion designers who've tried to shake things up with wooden shoes, too, even though with less effect.
Photo from virtualshoemuseum.com
A few Sundays back, Every Clog Has Its Day took a peek at Klompendagen in the Netherlands. The web site for this festival of clog making featured quite a few exceptional high heeled wooden shoes along with all the traditional Dutch design. And it got me wondering if that's where fashion designers Viktor and Rolf got the idea for their innovative shoes. According to their assistant, Hannah Bonjer, the high heeled klomp (which thanks to the YouTube video embedded below I've now learned is pronounced with a long "o" sound as in "loam", not the short "o" that you hear in "stomp") was the result of their desire to take an authentic folk object from their culture and make it sexy.
Photo from dagjaweg.nl
Interestingly, the designers sought out actual craftspeople to do the handpainted, traditional designs that adorn these styles. The stippled black klompen below were decorated by an elderly Dutch woman using her own unique technique and pattern.
And as for all the panic stricken reactions many viewers have to these clogs, Ms. Bonjer explains in the interview how a layer of silicone inside the shoe provides stability and helps cushion the ball of the foot.
Clearly, the shoe never found a wider audience when Viktor & Rolf launched the style with their Fall 2007 Ready-to-Wear show (detailed above with photos from Style.com). Perhaps the wooden shoes were simply overshadowed by the designers' penchant for showmanship. All of the models were sent down the runway trussed with metal frames supporting spotlights and speaker systems. The observation from many fashion writers at the end of the show was one of relief that the ladies on stage had made it through it all in one piece.
Rolf Snoeren and Viktor Horsting
Rumor has it that these unique klompen were once upon a time available for sale, but I can find no evidence to back that up. I expect they're currently languishing unused in the back of some trendy fashionista's closet. Fingers crossed that she'll need to do some house cleaning someday and will set them free to be enjoyed and appreciated by someone new.
Images and information below from virutalshoemuseum.com.
The high heeled Delftware clog is handpainted at 'De Koninklijke Porceleyne Fles' in the old traditional craftwork pattern. The wooden clog was manufactured by Jos Hogenkamp.
The high heeled Friesian clog is handpainted by Eelke Scherjon in his old traditional family craftwork marbled pattern, Friesland (Northern province of the Netherlands). The wooden clog was manufactured by Jos Hogenkamp.
The high heeled Staphorster clog is handpainted in an old traditional dotted craftwork pattern by an elderly woman from Staphorst. The wooden clog was manufactured by Jos Hogenkamp.
Still intrigued? There's more to discover about these intriguing shoes in this YouTube interview with Hannah Bonjer of Viktor & Rolf. The interview is in Dutch, but the subtitles are easy to read.