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Monday, January 19, 2009

Belgium by Chinese Laundry

To the Point: The Belgium nicely balances several Spring trends.

The Belgium by Chinese Laundry caught our eye this week. It's a new arrival that embraces several prominent Spring 2009 trends, balancing them in a way that bridges styles from previous seasons while looking completely current.

Platform heels are showing up everywhere. We attribute the raft of styles to the ever-increasing elevation seen in Loubous and luxury lines where five-inch heels have become the new four. The Belgium hovers around the four-and-a-half mark, but the half-inch in the footbed provides a measure of stability. In the end: they are tall. Whereas fall's boots lengthened the leg with their long expanses of smooth leather, these platform pumps lengthen the body, lending shape to legs, behinds and backs. The cork heel reads as light and airy; we think it will give your look some floaty grace.

The Belgium makes great use of tribal tendencies. The upper, a leather strap at toe, arch and ankle, and heel are finished with a tight woven-reed diamond pattern. It works back to the African-inspired, crafty focus of this Spring, a look reinforced by the cork: simple materials used with sophistication. From a distance the pattern and the sheen of the reeds blends into a vaguely reptile pattern. This reference to the snakeskin of seasons past make the Belgian a great bridger shoe for early Spring. It has one foot in the past and one striding into the future.

We're of two minds on how to wear this one: short and flowing summer dresses or skinny jeans. Light, airy babydoll dresses in whites and creams will blend with the Belgium's neutral palette, becoming backdrops for bold handbags and big, bright gemstones. We can also see it as support for something in a bold, fun, punchy red. We're going to see a lot of interplay between neutrals and saturated color pops this season, making this pump a versatile basic that's far from plain. Under skinny jeans, the pattern takes on a funkier edge. Play up the boho look with big jewelry: hoop earrings, layered necklaces, jangly bangles. Blousy peasant tops. Busy, vintage-inspired patterns. Or make it young and laid-back with a tube top!

A buckle at the ankle is an apt touch: shaped like a Greek Omega, this shoe is the last word in adding verve to your spring outfits.

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