“Pilgrim’s Pride”

Catherine Deneuve on the set of Belle de Jour

Fashion Week is just a few days away and I dare say most of us began thinking about our wardrobes weeks ago (if not longer). Trying to figure out what to wear this fickle time of year, that not only looks good, but is practical and comfortable, is no easy feat. Let’s face it, not all of us have limos and town cars whisking us from one show to another, and we have to rely on public transportation, taxis, and our own two feet.

Speaking of feet, the choice of footwear is KEY. Not only because we on our feet constantly, but because shoes are undeniably one of the most important components of an entire look. Trends come and go, and it’s hard not to notice the resurgence of the pilgrim buckle pump. They have never gone out of style and Roger Vivier’s classic (and decidedly un classic) interpretations are still THE gold standard. In fact, they were immortalized by Catherine Deneuve, when she wore Roger’s black patent pump with gold buckle in “Belle de Jour”, 1967.

Marc Jacobs fall 2012 RTW pink metallic pilgrim’s buckle shoe

That said, pilgrim buckles were given a new look last February when Marc Jacobs accessorized his fall 2012 collection with an assortment of over the top, almost cartoonish incarnations. My initial thought when I saw them, was that they were like Roger Vivier’s classic Belle de Jour pumps on steroids, and I couldn’t help but wonder what Marc was ‘smoking’ when he conceived them – LOL. (Who could possibly forget the rhinestone adorned pair he himself wore to the Costume Gala at the Met in May?)

His versions will soon be available at Marc Jacobs boutiques and select Bloomingdale’s around the country, and they will probably cost around $1000, depending on the material.

Vintage Ferragamo shoes with buckle

If you don’t want something that extreme, my suggestion is to buy the originals. Roger Vivier is sold at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and the Roger Vivier boutique at 750 Madison Avenue, and they can range anywhere from about $700 and up. If you prefer to scout out vintage Viviers, there is always EBay, vintage shows, and vintage stores. I have found them in leather, patent, silk and satin, with buckles in silver, gold, or rhinestone, and in a range of heels, from flat to high. FYI, I’ve also seen them from unknown companies, and from famed houses like Ferragamo and Geller.

 Vintage steel French shoe buckles

The good news is that if you don’t want to splurge on the admittedly pricey footwear, you could just simply buy separate pilgrim’s buckles and affix or clip them on to any plain pump for an instant makeover. I’ve found a number of excellent vintage pieces on line (ranging anywhere from $10 to $100), and they are available in metal (steel, gold and silver), as well as rhinestones.

By the way, the pilgrim buckle is not just limited to women’s accessories. Halloween is soon coming, and I could not help but chuckle when I saw this Lil’ Witches Printable Shoe Favor Box on www.etsy.com  ($8, assembly required).



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

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