Outside of the serious drug issue so prevalent in the land of Birkenstocks, we can credit them as the grandfathers of grunge, without whom grunge nouveau would not exist. Doc Marten "sandals" are also very happening this summer, and catching up to first place. Women and men of wide age ranges and backgrounds are sporting these because they last longer than most tires. The core of the chic summer hippie is the casual-summer-traveler-without-many-belongings-look. Started by Jesus years ago, it's more of a vibe than a wardrobe; with the foundation being the right sandals. The most elegant high-quality custom made versions come from an adorable East Village fixture who naturally sports a toe-ring herself. At it since 1954, Barbara Shaum has sandaled Robert De Niro, Calvin and Richard Tyler's runway shows, and will custom make for you too. The sandal family tree goes like this: Isadora Duncan, on a quest for the Greek Classics, brought along her brother Raymond and nephew Menalkas, on a pilgrimage to Greece. Inspired by the other Greek Classic, the sandal, Menalkas set up shop in Provincetown. Barbara learned the craft from him, and the beat went on. Business boomed in the freedom fighting '60s, and is seeing a big revival now, for reasons that run deeper than the chic hippie trend. Her sandals last longer than her trusty F.I.T. intern, Lincoln, has been alive. We both feel strongly that there are few things sexier than men in sandals, and want to encourage them to shoe accordingly. Her advice to urban sandal advocates, "keep your feet clean". Barbara Shaum, 60 East 4th Street, 212-254-4250.
Her favorite sandal named after Roger Rilleau, whose own craft was inspired by Raymond Duncan.
Trends to stay away from include what a lot of European companies banked on commonly known as the "cyber" theme. First of all "themes" no longer work. We, the fashion consumer, are more emancipated than you, the manufacturer, realize. It's insulting to be invaded with a bunch of flashy dizzying graphics that stretch, because a European accent dictates that "cybear eeze thee troo pulse ave thee maadearn wearld". Like we're a bunch of cattle. Although modern is good, and although 2000 is only 3 and a half years away, we still don't suddenly need to look like androids.
The big fashion wake up call seems to be coming from mouths of babes. Pratt Institute's Senior show proved that there were some very groovy minds at work. Unwed to their backers and advertisers, they're are the only ones left in the piranha fashion chain with enough hutspa to say what they mean. Geoffrey Beene sat front row (with the steady pleasant expression that we've seen on his face for the past decades; is he a Taurus?) as Pratt student Monica Felgendreher poked fun at the women that still don't get that the key to wardrobe happiness is being yourself. Confidence is the biggest aphrodisiac, that no little black dress can provide, if you can't conjure it yourself. Monica was way over the whole label conscious cookie cutter eveningwear facade, that reminds us that the corporate driven 80's vibe still weighs thick in the nightlife air. It's over over over ... and as suicide is not an option (fashion is not that serious remember?) young Monica made fun with the feminist stance of any good German and sent her objectified model down the runway, after turning her into the size 8 dress form that many women try too hard to be. A very chic satin evening dress with form mimicking embroidery led the way. School critic Hal Rubinstein chastised poor Monica, telling her not to philosophize on the runway because clothes shouldn't talk. The clothing should be seen but not heard tone is very Stepford Wives in attitude, and philosophizing never stopped the Moschinos and Gautiers of the world from taking over. Fortunately Monica wasn't squashed too badly by the remark and skipped away with an eveningwear award anyway.
The student body does not march on without appreciation. According to a rotating freelancer at many of the larger design houses, a perverse number of fashion houses import green-card free students for a season for the design "experience", and at the end of the run have a "coordinator" make things look like they were all designed by the same hand. Young Madeleine and Vlad are usually shipped back before they can see that their "experience" has come to life on someone else's runway.