Prada's leather flower-heeled Mary Jane sandal, $750, at Neiman Marcus (Tysons Galleria).
Prada's leather flower-heeled Mary Jane sandal, $750, at Neiman Marcus (Tysons Galleria). (By Julia Ewan -- The Washington Post)
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Thursday, April 3, 2008

They're so weird, so bizarre, so utterly ugly that they qualify as spring's must-have pair of shoes.

They are Prada's flower-heeled Mary Jane sandals from the Milan-based fashion company's spring '08 runway collection. The leather sandal, with its seductive tone-on-tone piping, the sculptural rise of its 3 1/2 -inch heel and its lemony-sweet "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" bow tie, is certainly an acquired taste. And with the $750 price tag, not many people will be able to breathe in its rarefied scent, much less slip a pair onto their well-manicured tootsies.

But the straight-from-the-catwalk shoe, with its oblique references to abstract expressionism and the Spanish modernist architect Antoni Gaud�, has elicited vigorous love-it-or-hate-it debate on Internet blog sites.

Jennifer Gerson, associate editor at, which listed a similar version of the sandal on a recent "5 Items You Must Have for Spring" list, says the shoe's radical aesthetic just enhances its appeal -- but only for a certain kind of fashion snob.

"These are shoes that will scare most people," Gerson says. "They make you look like an evil woodland nymph. They're shoes you can't walk in, you can't afford and that'll make your feet look ugly. It's insane!"

But isn't that what it's all about when the devil wears Prada?

-- Jill Hudson Neal

© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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