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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rilla by Jeffrey Campbell

The Eyelets Have It: Jeffrey Campbell's Rilla blends multiple boot trends into a singular shoe.

What we like most about Jeffrey Campbell is his ability to grab at all these trends and extract something unique – a non-trend boot that's in the moment but works the next season too. It's a delicate balancing act between tragically hip and abstrusely idiosyncratic. Fortunately the team at JC is decidedly acrobatic. The Rilla is one of our favorite acts this week.

The trends? Rilla boils down paratrooper zip details, the early-'90s Goth of linesman boots (23-eyelet tie-up? Think Doc Martens on steroids), combat boot construction (reinforced heel, rounded toe) and classic feminine touches like a 3" stacked heel.

The result: Classically male heavy-duty boot motifs abound, balanced by ladylike details. The matte black of your typical combat boot is transformed into a deep pewter with an alluring sheen. The linesman laceup moves forward over the toe, referencing Victorian booties and snubbing the front into a demure, even dainty, toe. The straight heel feels sturdy like a workaday boot while adding grace to the otherwise industrial look of the upper. The exposed zipper lacks the teeth (heh) of military-grade jumpers for a more delicate appearance. A hidden gusset at top ensures a snug fit.

Leggings are critical here. Rilla has the height and the detail to work under skirts and shorter-hem shorts. Tie the two together with something unexpected like a pair of HUE's degrade or metallic leggings. You could try in with skinny jeans, but the fun here is about length and materials. Let the boots be naughty by pairing with a structured top and knee-length skirt, or tap into "Singles"-era grunge with an oversized tee under a plaid hunting coat. Use your wardrobe to continue what JC started: exploding the trends and reassembling them into something uniquely new and specifically you.

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