"They started as a trend a couple of seasons ago, but they were still very much under the radar," says Marlene Hu Aldaba, owner of the Georgetown boutique Hu's Shoes. She's speaking, of course, about the oxford lace-up heels populating nearly every brand, store and price point for fall.
Sinela, a Spanish label by Jeronimo Jimenez, offers a pair in dusky crimson. Marc Jacobs fastens his two-tone chunky heels with bowling shoe laces. An ankle-high pair by Andrew Stevens's secondary line, A.S. Studio (made in Italy), is cut in patent leather, while Gucci's 4 1/4- inch stacked heel and those from in-house labels at Barneys Co-Op and Kohl's chose the perennial fall favorite -- suede.
With old-school charm, and such natty details as wingtip perforations and signature laces, they're a softer alternative to the severe ankle booties that walked the runways for the past few seasons.
"There's always that carry-over in fashion, but these are just less extreme," says Hu Aldaba. "It's now progressed into a mainstream trend -- especially with all the menswear-inspired clothing this season -- that's a lot more accessible."
-- Cory Ohlend orf