I’ve always been the sort who thinks that shoes make an outfit. They can make it really good, or really bad—it’s not often I’ve come across a pair of shoes that have little impact on the rest of your look. And for the past, oh, I don’t know, half-a-year, spindly stilettos have been leaving me with the impression that I look kind of…dated. Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing like a pointed Manolo pump or barely-there “nothing shoe” with a whisper-thin 5-inch heel to elongate the leg and make you stand tall, but they haven’t made me feel cool. They typically make me feel like I’m in a “going out” outfit, no matter where I am, or what time of day it is.
So, lately, I’ve been going the complete opposite route. “I may-or-may-not-skateboard” off-white Converse hi-tops? Love. “I may-or-may-not be a buyer for a Tokyo concept shop” Céline creepers? Be still my heart. And don’t even get me started on the black-and-white flatform Alexander Wang sandals I preemptively bought in February. When it comes to footwear, my M.O. is the more boat-like, the better. I'm looking to shoes to quite literally anchor my ensemble. “But…are they flattering?” you might ask. No—no, they’re not. But I don’t care.
I first spied my newest shoe crush at Stockholm’s answer to Bergdorf Goodman, NK, during a trip to Sweden at the beginning of June. First of all, let it be known—in this totally sweeping statement—that Stockholm is a magical land filled with, among other things (...such as My-Little-Pony-hued skies and the new store & Other Stories), surprisingly light, delicious food and extremely good-looking/stylish people, who will make you rethink your mousy brown hair and whatever it is you're wearing. In light of this, Nick and I were casing the Acne mini-boutique during one of those frantic shopping expeditions where you know you don’t have enough time to accomplish anything but you reeeeally just want to “see what’s out there.” I looked down and there they were, in all their silver-glitter-infused, lug-soled, awkwardly green(ish?) glory: the “Mia.” I picked one up, nearly throwing my back out in the process— ooh, they’re heavy. My eyes lit up. (Inexplicably, and in spite of stringent luggage weight restrictions, the heavier the shoe, the more I want it.) I held the size 38 left-footer at arm’s length, examining the stiffly molded leather, the industrial buckles, and the price tag: 550 Euro? That’s a lot for totally insane shoes, I thought. “Do you have these in a size 40?” I asked. “Ah, no—last pair!” (Read: winner. These shoes were clearly a winner.)
“What are you doing?”
I looked over my shoulder—Nick.
“I LOVE these shoes. Aren’t they awesome?!” I declared.
“No. They’re horrible. Let’s go.”
Back at my hotel that night, I found myself in an I-hole (Instagram K-hole) and decided to do a little experiment: “Am I batshit crazy to want these amazing Frankenstein shoes?” I ‘grammed, and the comments poured in. They ranged from “GET THEM NOW! LIFE IS TOO SHORT, BUY THE SHOES” to a could-go-either-way “Yes!!!!” from Karen Elson to “Ick.” The cyber room was largely divided. I was torn, but ultimately thought, I just have to see them on.
And, ultimately, it didn’t really take trying them on to make up my mind. (In fact, they don’t even look particularly ‘good’ on.) It took meeting a really fucking cool shop girl, one Linnea Sennerholt, at the Ack-neyh (that’s right, not Ack-neee) flagship store the following day. She had on a glitter cat-eye, an exaggeratedly oversize white dress and THE SHOES. “NICK! LOOK! Look how cool she looks,” I said. “Yeah, because she’s Swedish and has perfect style. You don’t wear dresses.”
But I could.
And I did. And I do now—it’s actually the same dress, a raggedy floral 1940s number that I hacked the bottom off of. Because, end-of-story, I bought the shoes, wore them through the airport because they wouldn’t fit in my luggage, and have barely taken them off since. I’m still unsure as to whether they’re “good” or “bad,” but then again, I wonder the same thing nearly every time I hear a new song (put it on repeat 30 times, though, and I’m hooked). But I love these weirdo shoes. I love that they’re clunky and will probably never totally wear-in, their vaguely orthopedic, distinctively 90s club-kid nature…and that they’re making me dress around them. They’re a total look-changer, a look maker—and that, my friends, is the holy grail of shoe-dom.
Photographed by Nick Axelrod in Stockholm, Sweden.