All I want for Christmas? Lord knows I’ve been seriously crushing on United Nude shoes for quite some time now.
Like most of my many other infatuations, it all began rather innocently enough. In this case, I was strolling through Covent Garden on a breezy fall day in 2006 when a girly itch for new winter boots propelled me through the doors of the first store that glimmered with some vague sense of promise. And while I’ve long forgotten the shop’s name, its well-curated contents – in particular, a clandestine back room kitted out with offerings from the latest UN collection – made it an unforgettable experience in weirdly wrought designer footwear.
Maybe it was the worn-down surface of the checkered laminate flooring or the fact that the space for some odd reason or another was curtained off (as if the contents inside roamed beyond the reaches of G-Rated territory) that anointed the whole experience with a starkly seedy air as one leaned over to touch one of the specimens from the display shelf. But in retrospect, it was this dirty quality that added to the appeal of the merchandise itself: shoes fashioned with bizarre appendages that contribute as much to the charm of the products as they do their functionality, ranging from UN’s now iconic Eamz pump – a titillating nod to the classic chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames – to the brand’s signature product that marked the start of it all, the Möbius shoe.
While the restraints of a meagre student budget kept me from splurging on a pair right there and then, the damage was done, the ominous seed planted. Simply put, that fateful first encounter in Covent Garden would signal the beginning of my long-standing unrequited lust for UN shoes. Imagine the combination of awe and envy that coursed right through me when I caught sight of the Australian architect/ academician Rosalea Monacella at the latest edition of the Archifest forum in Singapore recently. Otherwise conservatively dressed, she was gingerly making her way towards the podium in what else but a provocative pair of Fuck-Me Eamz-es, prompting the architecture student sitting next to me to drop the pen she was distractedly rolling between her fingers and exclaim, “She’s being cantilievered!” in breathless wonder. To hell with lecture notes – girlfriend’s clearly only thinking about where to get the goods at this point.
I must say, the fact that the shoes have been conceptualized (and favored) by architects is admittedly a major point of fascination for me. UN was founded by Dutch architect Rem D. Koolhaas (none other than the nephew of Big Rem) who later joined forces with British shoe-maker Galahad Clark. The story behind the brand is reportedly as follows: in an attempt to win back the girl of his dreams, Little Rem focuses his talents on creating the shoe of her dreams, indirectly fabricating architecture for the feet. He kick-starts a mini shoe ’empire’ and blatantly contemplates calling the brand ‘Naked Woman Now’ to underscore its penchant for proffering sex appeal. How’s that for the stuff that modern-day movie adaptions of fairy tales are made out of?
And just because Rem D. didn’t end up getting the girl doesn’t mean that more men ought not to be taking notes on his unusual way of paying court to a lady. That is, gentlemen, if all else fails, the way to a woman’s heart is ultimately through her feet.
(Images via United Nude)
(Top Image via Outnext)