|Miuccia Prada showed colorful Mary Janes |
throughout her fall/winter 2015 collection
The first pair of shoes I ever remember obsessing over were the beloved shiny black patent leather Mary Janes which I religiously wore as a little girl. These bar strap shoes (which have been popular with children since the 19th century), were not officially called Mary Janes until 1904 when the Brown Shoe Company purchased the name’s license from Richard Felton Outcault (Mary Jane was the strappy shoe wearing heroine of the Buster Brown comic strip which he illustrated).
|Nicholas Kirkwood Carnaby Mary Jane|
Fashion forward women have been drawn to this timeless classic since the 1920’s and undoubtedly, part of its appeal is its inherently nostalgic childlike innocence. That, and the fact that the strap across the foot is not only decorative, but is practical as it helps keeps the shoes on. (In Cindy Lieve’s column in the September issue of Glamour, “What I Learned Editing This Issue”, the editor-in-chief, who pointed out that the “average woman splurges most on her shoes” also admitted that her current “obsession” was Nicholas Kirkwood’s camel patent leather Mary Janes on a tall, blocked heel made of lucite; there was a picture included).
|Rag & Bone's sporty high heeled Mary Janes Fall 2015|
Through the years, there have been infinite reinterpretations on this footwear stalwart by designers. They have appeared in every color and fabric imaginable; from pancake flats (like my 90’s Chanel round toed white leather with black cap toed versions) to sky high heels, and everything in between. They can read innocent or vampy; minimal or decorative; sturdy, streetwise and sporty (as illustrated by the uber cool high heeled Mary Janes shown on Rag & Bone’s fall 2015 runway), or delicate, sleek, sexy, and sophisticated, as exemplified by Manolo Blahnik's Compara pointy toed patent leather Mary Jane which features a 3 1/2" covered heel and strap with button closure across vamp,
|Manolo Blahnik posing with dozens of his shoes |
Photo by Ian Cook
As you know, Manolo will receive the Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s 2015 Artistry in Fashion Award on September 9 at Lincoln Center (where assuredly, many guests will be directing their attention to the ground in order to check out the shoe master’s fabulous footwear on parade). I’m certain more than a few women will be wearing his pared down, minimal Campari pump which is also referred to as “The Sex and the City Shoe”. It was first created in 1994 (Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw ‘found’ the shoe when she raided the Vogue accessories closet in series four of “Sex and the City”). As Manolo admitted to Vogue many years ago, “I had gone through a bit of a baroque period in the early Nineties and wanted something to counter that, so I went minimalist. It started off with the idea of a children's Mary Jane, but then I made it sexy; pointed toe, high heel - and in black patent with grosgrain trim!"
|Manolo Blahnik Campari|
It instantly became THE shoe of the season, seen on everyone from Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Moss, to many front row editors during fashion week. The style is still being produced and is currently available at Bergdorf Goodman $735
|Calvin Klein Genavee|
Two other good choices that are a little less pricey:Calvin Klein's Genavee pointy to Mary Jane pump in black, navy, greige patent leather on a 3 inch heel, $108.95
|Marci Mary Jane Pump by Halogen|
Halogen's 'Marci' pointy to Mary Jane pump available in solid black or tan and black dot print calf hair on a 3 ½ inch heel, $99.95,
|Polo Ralph Lauren Makenna|
For those who yearn for something more reminiscent of their childhood favorite, and gravitate towards a flat or something on a very low heel, there is Polo Ralph lauren's Makenna, in black patent on a ¼ inch heel, $195 .
|Gucci horse bit detailed & Lillian patent leather flat|
My personal favorite is Gucci's horse bit detailed Mary Jane flat on a 1 inch heel, which was offered in black or red patent, $575, . (Alas, the red version was so popular, they are all but sold out worldwide). There is even a “mini me” toddler sized version: the Lillian patent leather Lillian patent leather Mary Jane flat $265 which is proof that certain things are completely ageless and never lose their appeal.
- Marilyn Kirschner