Arriving at the airport on my return from Morocco late Wednesday night, I found Paris under an absolutely deluvian rainfall. “So bad,” my taxi driver said, “that the Louvre and the Orsay museums will be closed to evacuate precious works of art that are stored in the lower level.” Two of my twenty-something nieces, Claire and Allison, would be arriving in Paris the next day from Washington D.C. If I sent an email would they get it in time to pack rain boots? And what about their visits to the museums? “Well, at least they’ll be able to shop,” I thought.
I’d been craving a new pair of sneakers ever since I saw Victoria Beckham stepping out of her NYC hotel on a cold wintry day last February during Fashion Week wearing a high neck – up to the chin – navy sweater over grey loose-fitting trousers and her pristine white Adidas Stan Smith originals (hubby David is a fan too).
The shoe, one of the top ten tennis shoes of all time, is a fashion phenomenon with a deep connection to street culture and rap music. The Stan Smith was launched in 1971 but Marc Jacobs probably put the shoe on the fashion map when he started wearing them in 2004, followed by Phoebe Philo. Different versions of the Stan Smith have been created in collaboration with designers like Yohji Yamamoto or Alexander Wang. You can buy a classic green and white Adidas Stan Smith for $80 or opt for a Raf Simons pink pastel limited edition design for $450. Pharrell did a very limited edition of 10 hand-painted Stan Smiths for Colette in Paris that went for $500 a pop (ok, the benefits went to his association FOHTA). Naturally they sold out within minutes (but if you didn’t get yours, not to worry! You can very easily create your own by giving a few colored felt tip pens to your favorite 5-year old and letting them paint your white Stan Smiths).
The rain didn’t daunt Claire and Allison. Claire came home one evening after a marathon walking tour of Paris from Montmartre down through the rue des Martyrs to Opera then across the Seine to Boulevard Saint Germain. I was expecting her to be glassy eyed with fatigue. Not at all! With a grin from ear to ear she proudly showed me the black suede Rihanna Puma creepers that she found while shopping near rue Montorgueil. She had been trying to buy them for months in the US, but they were sold out everywhere. “Maybe I’ll go back to the store tomorrow and get another pair,” she said, “I could probably sell them for a nice profit in D.C.”
Creeper type shoes have been around since the 1950s but it was in the 1970s that Vivienne Westwood and her partner Malcom McLaren revived them for punks and rockers selling them in their shop in Chelsea called “SEX”. From then on they were in style – 2007 YSL, 2011 Prada, 2012 Carven then Chanel, etc. Miss Rihanna (for Puma) didn’t invent anything.
Claire’s creepers had great style and they looked comfortable, now I was torn between the black Puma creepers and the white Adidas Stan Smith.
Both brands, Adidas and Puma, began in Germany. Like Steve Jobs who started out making computers in his father’s garage, the Dassler brothers, Adolf (“Adi ») and Rudi, started making sports equipment in their mother’s washroom in the 1920s. The Dassler Brothers company was successful, but the partners split in 1949 because they (or their wives) didn’t get along, Adi formed Adidas and Rudi, Puma.